JAY-Z sat down to talk with Van Jones in an interview that aired on CNN on Saturday, Jan. 27, and the conversation to turned to current events. As the pair discussed the current state of politics in the U.S., JAY-Z voiced his opinions on a variety of topics, including President Donald Trump's recent reported "sh*thole nations" comment. The singer detailed what he believes are the negative effects of what he called a "hurtful" comment, and that didn't sit well with the president. Sunday morning, Donald Trump's response to JAY-Z's Van Jones CNN interview urged JAY-Z to "inform" himself on Trump's policies, and it was altogether a little confusing.
During JAY-Z's interview with Jones, the larger issue of immigration policy was discussed, and that's when the infamous comment reportedly made by Trump back on Jan. 11 surfaced in the conversation (Trump responded in a tweet to the allegations of the comment, and he said, "The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used."). Jones posed the question to JAY-Z in terms of how that broad characterization of African countries made him feel as a black father raising black children, according to CNN. JAY-Z's response focused on the hurt caused by such a comment:
Everyone feels anger, but after the anger it's really hurtful because he's looking down on a whole population of people and he's so misinformed because these places have beautiful people.
Following up, Jones asked if it matters what President Trump says as long as the economy works for the people, and JAY-Z replied that, "Money doesn't equate to happiness. It doesn't. That's missing the whole point....You treat people like human beings. That's the main point."
Seemingly missing that point, Trump tweeted out a response in the early morning hours of Jan. 28 asking someone to "inform JAY-Z" that "Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!"
It was an interesting response from the president considering that JAY-Z's thoughts expressed in the interview mainly focused on trying to figure out how to have a discussion about race relations and racism in the U.S. Yet even with that tone set in the interview, Trump seemingly couldn't get past JAY-Z's perceived snub of what Trump believes is the direct effect of his policies on the lowest-recorded black unemployment rate ever.
According to NPR, Trump is accurate when it comes to the numbers, but there is more to the story. Politico noted that the decline of black unemployment rates began under former President Barack Obama, and they further pointed out that the unemployment rate is still higher than the overall employment rate of African Americans.
While a decline in the percentage of black unemployment in the U.S. is a good thing, it was not the main issue at hand during JAY-Z's interview on The Van Jones Show. JAY-Z used the "sh*thole" comment as an entry into a discussion about the way in which race is talked about behind closed doors.
JAY-Z cited a 2014 incident where the former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling, was "exposed as this racist on a private phone conversation." He recalled that the response to that incident was to simply take Sterling's team away from him because of the racist remarks. According to JAY-Z, though, that doesn't help solve the problem of inherent racism. He elaborated his thoughts on the issue to Jones:
And it's like, OK, that's one way to do it. But another way would have been, let him have his team and then let's talk about it together. ... Maybe some penalties. Because once you do that, all the other closet racists just run back in the hole. You haven't fixed anything. What you've done was spray perfume on a trash can.
JAY-Z said that dealing with these types of problems in a manner that doesn't open up a discussion is what helps those racist thoughts live and grow, and "then you create a superbug." He continued, somewhat in jest, when he said, "And then now we have Donald Trump, the superbug."
It's likely that may have been one of the comments from the interview that sent the president rushing to his Twitter page, but still, the response from Trump missed the mark on the entire discussion that JAY-Z was trying to shed light on.
Direct Twitter responses to individuals from the president are no longer shocking, but in a time where the government is facing another potential shutdown with a current spending bill that runs out on Feb. 8, you would hope that our president would be able to focus on the issue at hand.
It appears, though, that any opportunity to publicly congratulate himself is more enticing that actually engaging in the suggested conversation of race relations.