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Russell Simmons Tries to Educate Jay-Z about Occupy Wall Street

Russell Simmons wrote an open letter to Jay-Z about the Occupy Wall Street movement in response to comments the rapper made about the movement in the New York Times Style magazine that came out last week.

In the piece written by the acclaimed British novelist Zadie Smith, Jay-Z complained that the Occupy movement wasn’t clear enough about its goals and opposition to the wealthy—particularly preaching to a nation that has long valued the hustle of the entrepreneur.

“What’s the thing on the wall, what are you fighting for?” Jay-Z said in the story.

“I think all those things need to really declare themselves a bit more clearly,” he said. “Because when you just say that ‘the 1 percent is that,’ that’s not true. Yeah, the 1 percent that’s robbing people, and deceiving people, these fixed mortgages and all these things, and then taking their home away from them, that’s criminal, that’s bad. Not being an entrepreneur. This is free enterprise. This is what America is built on.”

But Simmons took issue with the multi-millionaire criticizing the movement and said Jay-Z was missing the point.

In a letter at Russell Simmons explains what he thinks the rapper is missing about the goals of the movement and the “99 percent.”

“If he understood it and endorsed the movement, it would make a big difference to poor people. As the same man that said he would pay more taxes if it helped educate more children and create affordable healthcare, Jay-Z’s words matter. He was honest enough to say that he didn’t understand it. A lot of Americans don’t. He was also honest enough to recognize that there are some in the 1 percent who ‘deceiving’ and ‘robbing,’ so I know in his heart he gets it. I know he is a compassionate person who cares about the poor, so I’m certain if I had two more minutes with him, I could change his mind,” Simmons wrote in a letter on Global Grind.

Simmons made the connection between the movement and the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s connection to big money contributors.

“So, Jay, here’s the deal. You’re rich and I’m rich. But, today it’s close to impossible to be you or me and get out of Marcy Projects or Hollis, Queens without changing our government to have our politicians work for the people who elect them and not the special interests and corporations that pay them.”

Simmons said in his letter that the 1 percent spend millions of dollars destroying the fabric of the black community and make billions of dollars in return.

“I went to Zuccotti Park, the home-base of the Occupy Wall Street movement, almost everyday for months. I listened to the young people talk about their 99 problems. The 99 percent,” Simmons said, cleverly referring to one of Jay’s most popular songs.

“They took drug-infected, diseased people, locked them up, educated them in criminal behavior and dumped them back into our community, thus producing a jail culture for our streets,” Simmons wrote. “There are more black people under correctional control (prison, jail, parole, probation) today, than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War. This is just one issue that has been bought and sold. If we have to occupy Wall Street or occupy All Streets to change the course of direction of this nation, then we must. We must take our democracy off the market and let the world know that it is no longer for sale! Mic check.”


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