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J. Cole And Jay-Z Discuss Colin Kaepernick and The Importance Of Protesting

The hip-hop world kneels

Distortion can ruin even the most righteous message. For the past year, Colin Kaepernick has been in an endless game of telephone. From the first time he got down on bended knee and started a movement within the NFL, the president, pundits, and the public have twisted the quarterback’s message with increasing frequency. Now, in a new series of powerful images for GQ, Kaepernick seeks to reaffirm what he’s really fighting for: justice for the countless black lives lost at the hands of police brutality, and the system which feeds off of that inequality.

To celebrate Kaepernick as GQ’s “Citizen of the Year,” the publication asked his closest friends and confidantes — such as Ava DuVernay, Harry Belafonte, and Carmen Perez —  to describe the man who inspired thousands through the power of protest. Among Kaepernick's close friends was J. Cole, who praised the quarterback's sacrifice.

You're talking about a guy in his athletic prime, who's lived his whole life dreaming about playing football at a level that millions of kids dream to get to. ... Had he not [protested], this guy would be making millions of dollars right now. Period, point blank. And more important than the money, he was living his dream. He sacrificed his dream.

Cole isn’t the only rapper who's recently spoken about Kaepernick’s message. While he didn’t feature in the GQ story, Jay-Z paused during the Miami stop of his 4:44 tour on Sunday to speak about the importance of the NFL protests.

“When people are kneeling and putting their fists up and doing what they’re doing, it’s not about the flag. It’s about justice,” Jay said. “And that’s not a black or white thing. It’s a human issue. Everybody should feel the same way.”

You can watch the entirety of Jay’s speech here and read GQ’s “Citizen of the Year” cover story here.