Jay-Z‘s clothing label Rocawear recently started selling a t-shirt splayed with the slogan “Occupy All Streets,” which the company says is in direct support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. And some extremely cynical people have been very quick to accuse Jay-Z and his company of simply wanting to make money on the backs of poor people.
But is that what’s happening? The criticism is pretty obvious: Here you have Jay-Z, who’s a pretty solid member of the 1%, getting richer from selling shirts about a movement started by people who are actively protesting about their own poverty. If Rocawear wanted to support the movement, wouldn’t the company donate some proceeds (or all the proceeds) from that shirt directly to the handy Occupy Wall Street PayPal account? Better yet, if he wanted to embody the true spirit of this movement, shouldn’t he be down in Zucotti Park giving the shirt out for free?
Profiting from the movement without kicking anything back to it is pretty disingenuous, but a lot of the criticism has dismissed (and probably hasn’t even considered) the idea that Jay-Z might actually have a genuine soft spot for the protesters down on Wall Street. Granted that’s not something you can infer from a t-shirt, but it’s not something you can deny, either. But in a statement sent to Business Insider, the company made the explicit point that it is behind the movement:
The ‘Occupy All Streets’ T shirt was created in support of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement. Rocawear strongly encourages all forms of constructive expression, whether it be artistic, political or social. ‘Occupy All Streets’ is our way of reminding people that there is change to be made everywhere, not just on Wall Street. At this time we have not made an official commitment to monetarily support the movement.
That was yesterday. We reached out to Rocawear to see if it will make any donation to OWS, but we hadn’t heard back as of this post. If Jay-Z and Rocawear really do support the movement, which at its core is about money and the disadvantageous lack thereof, they’ll cut the protesters in on the profits. If not, the shirt’s supportive sentiment is rendered pretty hollow.