An unexpected twist in the Meek Mill Incarceration drama occurred today, and too be honest I’m still not sure how to process it. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, accompanied by the co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Michael Rubin visited Meek Mill in prison today, as originally reported by Deadspin. While it is a surprise that two white billionaires visited the rapper in prison, Kraft went as far to give a statement to the press about the situation.
Kraft stated that “He’s an amazing young man,” referring to Meek Mill, and that “Its just sad,” “This guy is a great guy and shouldn’t be here.”
To me it is pretty clear why this is news, but if you don’t get it I’ll lay it out for you. Robert Kraft is an NFL team owner. He’s from the Boston area that has had it’s fair share of racial issues in the past 50 years. The NFL spent the entire 2017 season dealing with the media hype of players protesting during the National Anthem over police brutality towards blacks and civil rights infringements blacks face at the hands of the police. While Kraft was one of the more supportive owners of the players’ choice to make a statement, very few would assume he would be making statements in support of an imprisoned rapper jailed by a vindictive judge for a probation violation.
The general perception of Robert Kraft from the average NFL fan (not in New England or a member of Pats nation) is that he and Jerry Jones are 1 and 1a members of the “Good Ole Boys Club” known as the NFL Owners.
To a be a member of that club you need to be a billionaire, white, a man, and beholden to the dollar above all things and a little to a lot bit racist. Are these perceptions accurate or true, other than being a billionaire and white, I can’t say the others are true. And while you don’t have to be white (Shahid Khan owns the Jags so there’s one) or necessarily a man as there are women owners in the league (Martha Firestone Ford – Lions, Amy Adams Strunk – Titans, and Virginia Halas McCaskey – Bears), the narrative of the owners is driven by the very rich and powerful white men in this fraternity. Robert Kraft after winning 5 Super Bowls as an owner is undoubtedly a key voice in the uber powerful NFL rich kids club known as the NFL Owners. But because we don’t really know any of these men, I can’t say with any certainty that any of this truly embodies who Robert Kraft is.
Kraft is filthy rich without a doubt, but has always seemed like a nice old man enjoying his team winning over the last 20 years. He actually showed some fire when the league accused him and his team of cheating which turned into a bit of a beef between he and league commissioner Roger Goodell. Nothing I’ve seen or heard from Kraft lead me to believe that he’s a racist, but sometimes we as consumers of media let the loudest voices drive the narrative, and we begin to believe what we hear and not necessarily what we actually see and or know. What I’m saying is, maybe for those who really know Robert Kraft this isn’t a surprise at all, and it makes perfect sense. He doesn’t need the media attention, his team is always is in the spotlight as long as they have TB12 (Tom Brady) and Bill Belichick, so what would he have to gain by doing this? Maybe to him, he sees an injustice and wants to help make it right.
The reality is, Kraft stated some things that many in the black and or progressive community have been saying for years, and that is that the criminal justice system needs reformed. Listen, Meek Mill was on probation and did some dumb things, he failed a drug test, he got into a fight at a bar, he rode an ATV down a city street where it was illegal, these infractions were spread out over years, but the judge gave him 10 years probation. That’s a decade folks. Yeah yeah I get it, you do the crime you do the time, but 10 years is ridiculous, and the fact that she sentenced him to 2-3 years in jail for a probation violation is even more ridiculous. This is a specifically egregious case of abuse of power (does not absolve the rapper of his responsibility to himself to protect himself especially knowing his judge had serious issues with him), but none the less to the broader point it seems to have set off a light for Robert Kraft. You see he didn’t just say, Meek Mill is my guy so I want him out, no he pondered the idea of how many other young men like Mill were sitting in prison for years for ticky tack crimes and misdemeanors.
The truth of the matter is the United States has the largest number of prisoners per 100,000 of the national population at 666/100,000 when compared to other OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) and overall the U.S. comes in second only to Seychelles which is an African country that 99% of us can’t pronounce or find on a map even though I just told you it is in Africa. Not only do we have this massive percentage of the world’s imprisoned population, comparatively to the rest of the world, but a disproportionate number of these people are young black men.
Now I will always champion personal responsibility and proper decision making, because many of these men would not be there if they made better choices, but its complicated and not that simple, so let’s stay on topic. As I was saying we have a disproportionate number of young black men in the prison system and it has become an epidemic. It’s literally wiped out nearly two generations of the black community and done serious harm to the gains that had been with the Civil Rights movement for the black community and non-whites in this country.
Do I anticipate that Robert Kraft is going to become a member of Black Lives Matter and start holding rallies and protests to free Meek Mill and all the brothers trapped in the cycle of the system? No, but if he’s willing to lend his voice, show his face, and use his platform to speak out for change, I’m not going to condemn him. In fact I’m going to fully embrace it, no side eye, no hesitation, no debate on his motives. If he’s willing to help even a little, why would I waste energy on pushing him away. He will not be able to fix the over arching problem, and hell I doubt he’ll be able to do anything for Meek Mill, but he’s another brick in the wall of justice that many are fighting to build and right now, we need every brick we can get our hands on.