Capitalism has worked out really well for Jay-Z. So well, in fact, that he recently dedicated an entire song to promoting capitalism as a tool of black empowerment. But even with promises of lowered taxes, and financial incentives for the wealthy—things that a wealthy capitalist should in theory love— Sean “Jay-Z” Carter still doesn’t think that President Trump is doing that much good for the black community.
In an interview with the CNN* host Van Jones on Saturday, Jones brought up reports that Trump referred to a number of countries, including many in Africa, as “shithole countries” and then asked if it was okay for Trump to “say terrible things but put money in our pockets.” Carter unequivocally said no, adding “it’s not about money at the end of the day. Money doesn’t equate to happiness. It doesn’t. That’s missing the whole point.”
Trump took umbrage at the remarks, tweeting, “Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!” As I’ve written before, Trump touting the black unemployment rate ignores some crucial context about the economy: First, the black unemployment rate has been dropping for the past eight years. Trump has only been president for one of them. Second, even at 6.8 percent, the black unemployment rate remains nearly twice as high as that of whites.
Trump’s response to Carter confirms precisely what the rapper was trying to say in the first place—that the president fundamentally misunderstands the aims of the black capitalism and the needs of the black community. Jay-Z, and many before him, have espoused capitalism and economic empowerment as a means to an end: racial equality. Being rich is a secondary benefit to the power, stability, and peace of mind that money can provide in a country that has forced blacks into poverty and segregation.