Lindsay Keener | Staff Writer
With more than 65,000 seats in the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami and thousands of standing football fans, it’s hard to believe that anyone would spot the two seats that are filled.
That is, of course, unless they’re filled by superstar phenomenon Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Shawn Carter, known by most as rap mogul Jay-Z.
The Super Bowl, otherwise known as the pinnacle of the pro football season, took place Feb. 2. In attendance was the music industry’s power couple, sitting during a highly praised performance of the national anthem by Demi Lovato.
Given the Carters’ open support of various social justice movements, many took the pair’s choice to sit as a political statement. Last year, Jay-Z’s full-service entertainment company, Roc Nation, partnered with the National Football League, giving the rap star full creative control over the football league’s music events. Despite the initial belief that the high-profile couple was taking a stance, Jay-Z informed fans that the couple was simply admiring the performance.
“What happened was not premeditated at all,” the rapper said.
One Hampton student commented passionately about the rapper’s response to the backlash.
“You can admire [the performance] standing up,” Tatyana Wilson said. “It looks like you’re protesting, and now you don’t want to be associated with it when you were in full support of men like [former NFL quarterback] Colin Kaepernick before. It’s strange.”
Dedicated to inclusion of all, the Super Bowl halftime show featured Latina stars Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, by way of Jay-Z and Roc Nation.
“We were making a louder stance,” Jay-Z said the following week at a speaking engagement at Columbia University. “Given the context, I didn’t have to make a silent protest.”
Some believe there is more to the story than Jay-Z is letting on.
“Honestly, I think Jay-Z is playing both sides of the fence, but not in a bad way,” Hampton University journalism student Lea Luellen said. “I think he has something cooking under wraps.”
Admittedly, when I first caught wind of the Carters sitting at the big game, I paid it little-to-no attention. Like many others, I believed the pair was exercising their right to silently protest, as they’d protested before.
To be told they were simply sitting didn’t quite impact me like it affected others. As far as I’m concerned, the couple is free to sit or stand whenever they feel free. They are also free to advocate for whatever social justice movements they’d like as they’ve done countless times for Kaepernick.
HU senior Alexus Baldwin was indifferent to the moment at hand.
“People should mind their own business,” Baldwin said. “If they want to sit down, let them, and if they want to get up, cool.”
Celebrities are often held to an unattainable standard, expected to meet the needs of fans and nonadmirers alike. In the case of the Carters, any decision they made that Sunday would’ve resulted in the couple being met with sneers and unsolicited opinions.
Either way, they can’t win.