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ALL EYES ON INGLEWOOD

With kickoff for Super Bowl LVI just hours away, the biggest stage in the world will be a Black-culture presentation from Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, featuring Mickey Guyton (singing "The Star-Spangled Banner"), Jhené Aiko (assaying "America the Beautiful") and Dr. Dre’s G-funk halftime showcase—produced by Jesse Collins—as the NFL contends with accusations of racism and other crises.

For starters, the location of the spectacle—Inglewood’s brand new Sofi Stadium, in the heart of a predominantly Black and brown community—adds another layer to Los Angeles' history of gentrification for the sake of sports; the displacement of the Chavez Ravine population for Dodger Stadium took place a little over 60 years ago.

Meanwhile, Roc Nation is well aware of the NFL’s reputation when it comes to race. As CEO Desiree Perez told the Los Angeles Times this week, “We obviously decided for going after what we feel is right and what we think we can do to make change. Let’s say for a second that this was a cynical move by the NFL—they just wanted to use us [to repair the league’s image]. OK. As long as we can go in and do things they would not normally do—if we can reach people we normally wouldn’t reach with a message—then that for us is success.”

Perez is referring to, among other things, the blackballing of Colin Kaepernick (for which he was awarded millions of dollars in a settlement) and former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores’ shocking new lawsuit, which accused multiple owners of sabotaging his blossoming reputation as a head coach. Meanwhile, per the L.A. Times, "45% of Republicans say the NFL is doing 'too much' to 'show respect for its Black players.'"

This year Roc Nation tapped West Coast hip-hop pioneer Dr. Dre to handle halftime duties. As he put it in a press conference on Thursday, “Who else could do this [in L.A.]?” Dre is bringing disciples Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar, along with R&B diva Mary J. Blige with him.

Will Roc Nation and Dr. Dre’s all-star assembly “End Racism,” as the NFL banners hanging from every stadium in the league suggest? Of course not. But as Perez stated to the Times regarding its partnership with the NFL, “We’ll take the harder, longer, rockier path. This is about us speaking up and fighting back.”

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