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You can be rich. You can be poor. You’re still Black.

placemaking Dec 03, 2021
Sabrina Whittaker
You can be rich. You can be poor. You’re still Black.

 A snippet of Jay-Z’s sociocultural genius

A few of Sabrina Whittaker’s notes from a conversation between Jay Z and Dean Baquet:


  • If you are blessed to discover your God-given ability, it’s your obligation to use it.
  • Concerning Children: You have to educate your child on the world they’re growing into. Still, like all participants of a system, children can’t function without knowledge of the history and structure of the organization they’re joining.
  • As much as children need to understand history, parents must be selective in their lessons. If we stay true to our most audacious goals, our children will have the opportunity to live in a different, better world. Prepare them for that. Dwell on the blessing of that.
  • Be yourself everywhere in the world.
  • The debate on race in America is unattractive but necessary. So, let’s change our perspectives. Let’s be open.
  • In this interview, Jay-Z tells an anecdote about an undiagnosed tumor. It grows whether you’re prepared to think about it or not.
  • Why would someone be defensive about another person’s participation in an activity the defensive person values engaging in?
  • People get angry when you see their pain and vulnerabilities. It distracts them from surviving. At an extreme level, to survive, people must shut off their emotions and conform to the space they are inhabiting at a detriment to their humanity and knowledge of self.
  • You’re not crazy. Sharing stories about your life feels nuts. It’s exhausting, but the artist’s primary responsibility is to start conversations.
  • Jay-Z is proud of Obama despite criticism. Ironically, he was expected to achieve more because of the color of his skin.
  • Black bodies, in particular, hoped Obama could reverse the damage done by 43 previous presidents. To be sure, Barrack Obama is the 44th U.S. president.
  • I’ve recently learned that Jay-Z loves Dave Chappelle! So, we have this in common. Considering the major controversy surrounding Netflix and The Closer, how could I have not known this?
  • Side note: I’ve recently visited a Dave Chappelle show that inspired me to add Afrofuturism as a category on my portfolio site. I’ve already written my first article. I’ll link it here after it’s release.
  • Are there things you wall off and don’t talk about? Why? Is it at a detriment? If so, how could you improve your situation? How could you create a more satisfying/productive space?
  • Jay Z on trends: It’s not about “the white-hot” space. Would you rather be a trend or celebrated forever?
  • Develop a bias for truth-seeking. If you are seeking fame, you should know that the content lasts longer than content centered around trends.
  • Do Black artists have a different obligation than white artists? Jay Z feels this to be the case. It is important for Black Americans to engage in open dialogue with themselves and other cultures because it is otherwise impossible for the humanity of Black perspectives to be understood.
  • Jay Z’s commentary on talking white resonates with all Black bodies that’ve been bullied for descriptive qualities of their expression such as subject matter, tone, or pronunciation.
  • Jay Z describes his preferred perspective: The best place to sit is in the eye of the hurricane. (In my head, I hear Lin-Manuel Miranda singing, “In the eye of the hurricane, there is magic, for just a moment.”.)
  • Side note: I recommend watching Jay-Z’s induction into the 2021 Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame:



Watch the music video that inspired this audio clip: 
The Story of O.J.

“American pie is not made of apples. It’s made of whatever the hell you can get your fucking hands on.”

– Dave Chappelle, on Jay-Z's career


Our new motto from Jay-Z's Rock n’ Rock Hall of Fame induction: 

It ain’t no pressure; I just do it.