The reaction from some on the right to Jay Z and Beyonce’s Cuban vacation reminds me of the moments following the death of Stringer Bell on ‘The Wire’. Bunk Moreland interviews the only witness to the murder – an unscrupulous contractor – who describes the shooter as a ‘big black guy with a big gun’. Moreland nods to his partner whispering ‘big negro, big gun’ an allusion to the inability of folks with racial bias to distinguish between blacks, especially in high stress – or high opportunity – situations. Jay Z and Beyonce, two celebrities with a combined net worth of around $750M visited Cuba, a nation – official propaganda aside – anyone can visit and yet somehow we have a controversy.
Here is Marco Rubio:
“Since their inception, the Obama administration’s ‘people to people’ cultural exchange programs have been abused by tourists who have no interest in the Cuban people’s freedom and either don’t realize or don’t care that they’re essentially funding the regime’s systematic trampling of people’s human rights.”
Rubio’s outrage is both selective and hypocritical considering Republican and Democrat support for any number of dictatorial regimes and human rights violators, but that’s old news. If Rubio really wants to use Jay Z to highlight the abuse of some government rule he should pick something that Jay Z and most other folks in the 1% are likely abusing – like the tax code for example – but that’s neither sexy nor politically expedient considering Rubio reps the 1%. So, instead he’d have us believe that Jay Z and Beyonce are somehow propping up the ailing Castro’s regime.
Jay Z a symbol of capitalism – Che Guevara t-shirt be damned – raises the profile of socialism? Jay Z someone whose lifeblood is free speech and expression is there to endorse Cuban press and speech restrictions? Jay Z a black man is there to somehow excuse Cuba’s own systemic racism? Not likely. If anything he’s indifferent to these problems, which would make him a mainstream American not a Manchurian Candidate.
What Jay Z best illustrates is the talent the rich have for exploiting the prejudices and stupidity of the general public to get even richer. Upon his return, Jay released a song celebrating himself and his outlaw status and now Fox News hosts are bustin’ freestyle and the White House press secretary is searching for words that ‘rhyme with treasury’. That the song itself is wack is beside the point. If Jay was an anonymous multimillionaire oil man or textile man or hedge fund guy no one would have noticed but he’s a BNBG, so it’s a ‘problem’, but not for Jay Z.