DAVIE, Fla. — Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills, who has been on the frontline of the NFL player protest movement since 2016, expressed strong disdain about how hip-hop mogul Jay-Z went about forming a social justice partnership with the NFL.
One of Stills’ issues centers on the role kneeling during the national anthem to bring awareness to social justice issues still plays in this movement. When discussing NFL player protests beside NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in a press conference setting last week in New York, Shawn Carter (Jay-Z) said “we’ve moved past kneeling and I think it’s time to go into actionable items.”
Stills has always been very thoughtful and genuine when expressing his views on social justice. Part of Stills’ critique of Carter centers on him not reaching out to the leader of the player protest movement, Colin Kaepernick, or himself to better understand their plight and the actions that they have done to impact change in their communities. Stills said he WIShes Carter would have done that to inform himself of ways he could push toward furthering their progress rather than potentially upending it.
“Some of the ways he answered his questions, talking about we’re moving past kneeling like he ever protested. He’s not a NFL player. He’s never been on a knee,” Stills said. “Choosing to speak for the people like he had spoken to the people. I wonder how many common people he knows or has spoken to. I wonder if he’s read my Facebook comments or my Instagram comments or some of the things people say to me. To say we’re moving past something, it didn’t seem very informed.”
Kenny Stills on Jay-Z/NFL paternship: “Talking about we’re moving past kneeling like he ever protested… Choosing to speak for the people like he had spoken to the people… I wonder if he’s read my Facebook/IG comments or what people say to me… It didn’t seem very informed.” pic.twitter.com/QGak3JKCcO
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) August 19, 2019
Stills is one of three players along with Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid and Dolphins receiver Albert Wilson who continue to kneel during the anthem to bring awareness to police brutality, systematic oppression and social injustice.
“I felt like (Carter) really discredited Colin and myself and the work that’s being done in our communities,” said Stills, who has been the Dolphins two-time Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee due to the work he does in the community particularly when it comes with women and children, under-resourced areas and interactions with police and military.
“What’s fueling everything now is division. I WISh it was handled in a different way.”
Last week, the NFL announced that Roc Nation will serve as the league’s official live music entertainment strategists, including halftime of the Super Bowl, and a core component of their partnership which centers on amplifying the NFL’s Inspire Change platform. The priority areas they aim to seek change will be criminal justice reform, improve police-community relations and education and economic advancement.
Carter has been a public supporter of Kaepernick throughout the process and an important voice in the black community. For some this partnership signaled a step in the right direction for the NFL but Stills questions their intentions behind it.
“They’ve done a good job shifting the problem onto Roc Nation and Shawn Carter’s shoulders instead of themselves,” Stills said.
More Kenny Stills on Jay-Z/NFL paternship: “They’ve done a good job shifting the problem to Roc Nation/Shawn Carter’s shoulders… I’m going to try to give this man the benefit of the doubt for now, but it doesn’t sit right with me. It’s not something I agree with or respect. pic.twitter.com/uqCEBHoyv5
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) August 19, 2019
Over the weekend, Reid gave his opinion on the partnership. He disagreed with it just like Stills, but he also raised more eyebrows by saying it was “kind of despicable” to hear a TMZ report that Carter was in line to potentially become a part-owner of an NFL team after the partnership.
“I understand his frustration. A lot of what I’m trying to do is bring people together, so I’m not going to personally go that route; but I understand when people do go that route,” Stills said. “I’m looking for solutions, and I’m going to try and give this man the benefit of the doubt for now, but it doesn’t sit right with me. It’s not something that I agree with. It’s not something that I respect.”
Even through clear disagreement, Stills seems willing to give Carter a chance to prove his actions will be genuine and not just capitalistic. He mentioned he would like to have a conversation with Carter if the opportunity arises.
Stills’ ability to agree to disagree helped simmer down a very public calling out of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross two weeks ago. Stills couldn’t reconcile with Ross holding a fundraiser for Donald Trump at his home while running a non-profit with a goal to fight racism and social injustice. Ross mentioned that he could be against racism and support his friend, Trump. Stills was adamant that Ross couldn’t play both sides. They talked about it on the phone a week ago, and agreed to disagree.