JAY-Z is using his powerful voice to push for projects that promote social justice.
In a column penned for the June 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter, the rapper, who just welcomed twin babies with wife Beyoncé last week in Los Angeles, expressed his belief that the “power of one voice is strong, but when it comes to social justice, the power of our collective voices is unstoppable.”
“Some of us will do the important work locally at the micro level to awaken our neighbors. Some of us will work for progress regionally. And a few of us will be like Kalief Browder, a modern-day prophet whose death two years ago started a discussion that continues today about how poor, black juveniles are treated in the criminal justice system.”
Browder was arrested at the age of 16 for allegedly stealing a backpack, and was imprisoned for three years on Rikers Island, where he endured brutal beatings, starvation and months of psychological torture “in inhumane solitary confinement” without trial. Two years after his release, he committed suicide at the age of 22 after his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Trophies are nice, but some projects — like two Spike docs on the lost black lives of Kalief Browder and Trayvon Martin — can lead to far greater rewards,” writes the 21-Grammy award winner and the executive producer of the two projects.
In the column, he also references his next documentary, Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story, which features the support of Martin’s family in telling the story of the unarmed black 17-year-old who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012. Through this series, he hopes to “create a similar conversation that leads to change and helps keep our children safe.”
“But social justice isn’t a political issue. It’s a human issue. It’s a story of empathy. When we are able to identify that we are all not perfect and have compassion for someone else, we can move forward as a society,” he continues.
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The six-part documentary series—which is slated to appear on the Paramount Network (formerly Spike) in 2018—is a follow-up to the network’s recent collaboration with the rapper and The Weinstein Co. Time: The Kalief Browder Story, which concluded in April.
“Look around at what’s happening in your town and your city right now,” he says. “Think small, and you can do much bigger things.”