What Jay-Z Said About Trump Was Much Deeper Than The President's Latest Tweet Suggests

CNN/The Van Jones Show

President Donald Trump began his Sunday morning by attacking hip hop superstar Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter on Twitter. But evidently Trump didn't watch the whole segment, because the tweet's point — a comment on the unemployment rate for black Americans — was already addressed by Jay-Z. In fact, there's much more to what Jay-Z said about Trump than could fit into 280 characters.

Trump might have seen a clip of Jay-Z criticizing him in a Saturday night interview on CNN's The Van Jones Show. When Jones asked about the president calling Haiti and African countries "sh*tholes," Jay-Z said:

It is disappointing, and it’s hurtful. It really is hurtful … everyone feels anger but after the anger, it’s real hurtful. Because it’s looking down at a whole population of people, and it’s so misinformed because these places have beautiful people and beautiful everything. This is the leader of the free world speaking like this … somewhere along his lineage, something happened to him. Something happened to him, and he is expressing it in this sort of way.

The next morning, Trump tweeted to ask that "somebody please inform Jay-Z" that the unemployment rate for black Americans "has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!"

But if you listen to the full interview with Van Jones, Jay-Z knows the unemployment statistics, and according to him, the financial gain doesn't matter if you don't "treat people like human beings."

In a broader discussion around racism, politics, and more, Van Jones asked Jay-Z if Trump is perhaps a good leader — even if not in the traditional sense. He noted that Democrats often would say the right things, but that didn't always translate into policies that help black Americans or an improvement in socioeconomic status.

Trump is saying, "I’m growing — I’m dropping black unemployment. Black people are doing well under my administration," Van Jones notes, going on to ask on to ask, "He may say terrible things, but putting money in our pockets. Does that make him a good leader?"

Jay-Z would say no:

No because it’s not about money at the end of the day. Money is not — money doesn't equate to happiness. It doesn’t. That's missing the whole point. You treat people like human beings, then — that's the main point. You can't treat someone like — it goes back to the whole thing, you going to treat me really bad and pay me well. It's not going to lead to happiness. It's going to lead to, again, the same thing.
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Jay-Z spoke at length in the interview about the #MeToo movement and racism, and how problems like misogyny and racism have "existed the whole time." It's just that now more attention is being drawn to them. "This is how people talk," Jay-Z said referencing Trump's sh*thole countries comment. "This is how they talk behind closed doors."

He gave the example of former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling being given some penalties by the NBA for racist comments. Sterling told his girlfriend in 2014 not to bring black Americans to games — even Magic Johnson. Jay-Z used the example to argue that surface-level responses don't create lasting change. "Maybe some penalties because once you do that, all of the other closet racists just run back in the hole," Jay-Z said.

"You haven't fixed anything," Jay-Z continued. "You have sprayed perfume on the trash can. What you do, when you do that is the bugs come and you spray something and you create a superbug because you don't take care of the problem. You don't take the trash out, you keep spraying whatever over it to make it acceptable. As those things grow, you create a superbug. And then now we have Donald Trump, the superbug."

Trump's unemployment tweet did not address the key points of the interview. But if Trump had watched the whole segment, who knows what his response would have been — possibly much more than just one economics tweet.