Legendary rapper and soon-to-be father of three Jay Z is bringing families together this Father’s Day, as he announced in a Friday Time op-ed that he’s teaming up with the organizations Southerners on New Ground, and Color of Change, to bail out fathers “who can’t afford the due process our democracy promises.”
He also wants to rewrite the blueprint of America’s justice system, in which companies selling bail bonds and other high-interest financial products can charge exorbitant rates to people who can least afford it, but have no leverage or other options.
“When black and brown people are over-policed and arrested and accused of crimes at higher rates than others, and then forced to pay for their freedom before they ever see trial, big bail companies prosper,” Jay Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, wrote in the op-ed.
“This pre-incarceration conundrum is devastating to families. One in 9 black children has an incarcerated parent. Families are forced to take on more debt, often in predatory lending schemes created by bail bond insurers. Or their loved ones linger in jails, sometimes for months–a consequence of nationwide backlogs. Every year $9 billion dollars are wasted incarcerating people who’ve not been convicted of a crime, and insurance companies, who have taken over our bail system, go to the bank.”
Jay Z is no stranger to weighing in on social issues, through his music, words and other creative projets. He recently teamed up with The Weinstein Co. on a six-part Spike TV documentary series about Kalief Browder, an African-American student who spent three years on Rikers Island without being convicted of a crime, and committed suicide soon after his release.
Earlier this week, Jay Z hopped on his rarely-used Twitter account to discuss many of his rap influences, ranging from megastars like Eminem, Nas and Kendrick Lamar to lesser-appreciated — but equally talented — wordsmiths like Big L and the Slaughterhouse crew. More surprisingly, he named the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, as the greatest rapper of all-time.