Rapper and music mogul Jay-Z speaks with CNN host Van Jones during the Jan. 28 premiere of "The Van Jones Show."
Rapper and music mogul Jay-Z speaks with CNN host Van Jones during the Jan. 28 premiere of "The Van Jones Show."

Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter had a powerful message for the president this weekend: you can’t put a price tag on happiness.

“Money doesn’t equate to happiness. It doesn’t. That’s missing the whole point,” he said. “You treat people like human beings. That’s the main point. It goes back to the whole thing: ‘Treat me really bad and pay me well.’ It’s not going to lead to happiness, it’s going to lead to, again, the same thing. Everyone’s going to be sick.”

The prominent rapper made the comments during an interview over the weekend, at which time he addressed President Donald Trump’s “shithole” comments about Haiti and African nations.

“Yes, it’s disappointing and hurtful. It is hurtful, more so. Everyone feels anger. After the anger, it’s really hurtful because he’s like looking down on a whole population of people,” he said. “And you’re so misinformed because these places have beautiful people and beautiful everything. It’s just this is the leader of the free world speaking like this. But on the other side, this has been going on. This is how people talk. This is how they talk behind closed doors.”

Trump responded on Twitter with statistics about Black unemployment being at an all-time low — which experts do not attribute to Trump’s presidency — apparently missing the entire point of Jay-Z’s words.

Trump made a similar assertion in another tweet earlier this month, which Politifact investigated. Their conclusion? “He’s right on the numbers but leaves out economic gains for those groups under Democratic control.”

The unemployment rate for Blacks actually went down significantly under former President Barack Obama’s tenure.

“Black unemployment peaked at 16.6 percent in April 2010, when Obama was president. It then fell by more than half to 7.8 percent by the time Obama left office in January 2017.”

(Politifact also cautions that, either way, presidents don’t deserve either full credit or full blame for the unemployment rate on their watch” because “broader factors, from the business cycle to changes in technology to demographic shifts,” are in play as well.)

Equating minorities to a dollar amount is not a new idea for Trump. When visiting Puerto Rico after the devastation left by Hurricane Maria, he touted an alleged low death toll and told Puerto Ricans they were “throwing our budget a little out of whack.” And despite the turmoil, Trump’s visit to the island was described by the New York Times as “a pep rally-like briefing,” during which time the president threw rolls of paper towels to a crowd just outside San Juan, the island’s capital.

According to Jay-Z, the biggest mistake is not talking about racists’ bad behavior.

“You haven’t fixed anything. You have sprayed perfume on the trash can. What you do, when you do that is the bugs come and you spray something and you create a superbug because you don’t take care of the problem.

“You don’t take the trash out, you keep spraying whatever over it to make it acceptable. As those things grow, you create a superbug. And then now we have Donald Trump, the superbug.”

In addition to the president, Jay-Z also talked about Colin Kaepernick, #MeToo and saving his marriage to Beyoncé.

Jay-Z, a part-owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, said if he was Kaepernick’s agent he would have “100 percent” encouraged the former NFL player to participate in his protests against police brutality and racism in the United States.

“Look how many people play football. They’re not all gonna be him. … Would you rather be playing football and getting your head dinged in, or would you rather be an iconic figure for the rest of your life?”

“We confuse the idea of having a job with fulfilling your purpose,” he added.

About #MeToo, he said it’s been a long time coming.

“This had to happen to purge itself,” he said.

“This movement and everything that’s going on and this, what we’re finding out — it’s like everything else. It’s like racism. It existed the whole time, and it’s almost like we normalized it.”

And regarding his marriage, Jay-Z said he and his wife Beyoncé worked to put love and family above all else.

“For us, we chose to fight for our love. For our family. To give our kids a different outcome. To break that cycle for Black men and women.”

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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