Over the weekend, Jay-Z admitted to New York Times Magazine that he doesn’t really get the Occupy Wall Street movement. Today, his friend, fellow hip hop superstar millionaire, and supporter of the movement, Russell Simmons penned an open letter to Hov about why he should change his mind.
The piece is called “Jay-Z is right 99 times, But this ain’t one” (clever) and it was published on Global Grind.
But before we get into that, let’s review what Jay-Z said that prompted his friend’s rebuttal:
“What’s the thing on the wall, what are you fighting for?” He says he told Russell Simmons, the rap mogul, the same: “I’m not going to a park and picnic, I have no idea what to do, I don’t know what the fight is about. What do we want, do you know?”
Jay-Z went on to say that he thought it was wrong for protesters to demonize the 1% in general, but recognised there are rich people “that’s robbing people, and deceiving people, these fixed mortgages and all these things, and then taking their home away from them, that’s criminal, that’s bad. Not being an entrepreneur.”
Now for Simmons’ turn. He acknowledged that Jay-Z has a good heart (Jay has said he’s more than willing to pay more taxes if they’ll help educate children, better society etc.). But what Simmons says Jay-Z is missing is an understanding of the people’s movement.
There isn’t just one demand, Simmons explained, because the movement is a true democracy — people can air all their grievances (from genetically modified food, to the prison industrial complex) because it’s an open forum for discussion. “A true people’s campaign” against the special interest that have bought our country and our politicians, especially Mitt Romney (who he calls “Money Mitt Romney”).
Bottom line, Simmons argues, is that Occupy Wall Street started a very important conversation in this country. Here’s an excerpt from Global Grind:
If we look back at the accomplishments thus far of Occupy Wall Street, there are many. For one, the national conversation that preceded September 17th, 2011 was dominated by a manufactured political fight in Washington to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a credit default. Within the first weeks of OWS, the conversation had been changed to the real issue that is eroding America; economic inequality, a topic that hasn’t been discussed for decades. Within the first few months of OWS, the conversation evolved into an examination of how Wall Street’s money has destroyed our political system and took control of our democracy….
So, Jay, here’s the deal. You’re rich and I’m rich. But, today it’s close to impossible to be you or me and get out of Marcy Projects or Hollis, Queens without changing our government to have our politicians work for the people who elect them and not the special interests and corporations that pay them. Because we know that these special interests are nothing special at all… We must take our democracy off the market and let the world know that it is no longer for sale! Mic check!
So maybe we’ll see Simmons AND his friend Jay-Z on September 17th.
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