Colin Kaepernick Urges Supporters to "Continue to Fight" After Jay-Z and NFL Deal

Former quarterback Colin Kaepernick appeared to take a swipe at Jay-Z after the rapper claimed “we’ve moved past kneeling” when discussing his new partnership with the National Football League (NFL). Kaepernick released a series of messages on social media that urged those in the NFL to continue to fight racial inequality and police brutality.

Kaepernick, who began kneeling as a silent protest in 2016, left the San Francisco 49ers for free agency in 2017 and has not played in the league since. Earlier this year, Kaepernick and the Carolina Panthers’ Eric Reid settled the collusion grievances they had filed against the NFL.

He addressed his social media posts to Reid and Miami Dolphins players Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson II. The three players continue to kneel during the national anthem and have repeatedly criticized the league.

“My Brothers [Reid, Stills, and Wilson] continue to fight for the people, even in the face of death threats,” Kaepernick wrote on an Instagram post.

“They have never moved past the people and continue to put their beliefs into action. Stay strong Brothers!!!”

On August 14, the NFL and Jay-Z joined in a partnership that names the rapper’s entertainment company Roc Nation as the league’s “live music entertainment strategist.” Jay-Z will also consult the NFL on the league’s activism campaign, Inspire Change.

As part of the long-term deal, Roc Nation will advise the league on its entertainment events, including the Super Bowl, host a Pro Bowl community concert, produce original music and artists podcast, and enhance the Inspire Change platform, which focuses on education, improving police-community relations, and criminal justice reform.

“I think we’ve moved past kneeling and I think it’s time to go into actionable items,” the music business mogul said during a press conference with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. According to The Los Angeles Times, Jay-Z added that “the NFL has a huge platform and we can use that huge platform.”

He continued: “We forget that Colin’s whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice. In that case, this is a success. This is the next phase. We get stuck on Colin not having a job, you know what I’m saying? And this is more than that.”

During the news conference, Jay-Z claimed he discussed the deal with Kaepernick. However, that claim was quickly refuted by Kaepernick’s girlfriend Nessa Diab. “THIS is a lie. COLIN never spoke to Jay-Z and NFL ahead of that deal being done,” she tweeted. “They NEVER included him in any discussion.”

The deal was met with surprise and criticism, especially since Jay-Z appeared to be a vocal supporter of Kaepernick and his movement.

Reid was particularly vocal about his feelings against the deal. “We never advocated for Colin to lose his job while we fought against systemic oppression. That’s unjust, and where the NFL inserted itself into this. Now the NFL is ‘championing’ social justice to cover their own systemic oppression in blackballing Colin,” he tweeted. “So we will fight to get Colin’s job back as well. Jay-Z knowingly made a money move with the very people who’ve committed an injustice against Colin and is using social justice to smooth it over with the Black community.”

“When has Jay-Z ever taken a knee? Yes, he’s done a lot of great work. A lot of great social justice work,” Reid told reporters on August 16, according to The Wrap. “But for you to get paid to go into an NFL press conference and say that we’re past kneeling? Again, asinine. Players Coalition 2.0. He got paid to take the bullets that he’s taking now, because we’re not having it.”

Columnist and former ESPN commentator Jemele Hill wrote in The Atlantic that Jay-Z was not getting enough from the deal “to justify the sacrifice of some of his credibility.”

Hill added: “This alliance plays right into the NFL’s hands, because the league seems determined to banish any memory of Kaepernick with its recent social-justice efforts — even though it’s likely that Jay-Z and the NFL wouldn’t even be entering into this arrangement if Kaepernick hadn’t taken a knee in 2016.”

The same day Jay-Z and the NFL announced their deal marked the third anniversary of the first time Kaepernick knelt in protest. “I continue to work and stand with the people in our fight for liberation, despite those who are trying to erase the movement!” he tweeted. “The movement has always lived with the people!”

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.