A pair of advocacy groups staged a protest outside rapper Jay-Z’s Jan. 16 show at the Verizon Center in the District to oppose his use of lyrics demeaning Black women and to urge the star to use his influence to get young people to sign up for health care.

Rocky Twyman, founder of the local Pray at the Pump Movement, joined forces with the National Congress of Black Women to stage the protest.

“We are trying to put out positive images for women, so what we are asking people like Jay-Z to do is to use their influence to do something positive, to get young people signed up for health care,” said Dr. E. Faye Williams, executive director of the National Congress of Black Women.

Twyman, of Rockville, a retired public relations consultant, drew national attention last year when he led protests outside Beyoncé concerts at the Verizon Center in the District and in New York City. Carrying signs with slogans such as “Jay-Z and Beyoncé Are Possessed by Demons,” Twyman’s small group in D.C. urged Michelle Obama to refrain from attending the concert with her daughters, Sasha and Malia, to protect them from exposure to what he characterized as demonic principles and unholy messages.

Beyoncé and her husband, rapper/mogul Jay-Z, who have a young daughter, Blue Ivy, are friends of the Obamas.

Williams said the group focused on health care because of the need for young people to take care of themselves.

“Since he is so influential, we are simply out here asking him and his wife, Beyoncé, as leaders and people who have influence on young people, to get them to do the right thing,” Williams said.

Twyman said that the response from concertgoers Jan. 16 was positive from some, negative from others. The four protesters bore signs with messages such as, “Jay-Z We Pray for You!” and “Blue Ivy Is No Ho, Slut, Neither Are Our Women—Pray.”

“It is nice to sugarcoat it and everything, but they are destroying our young people,” he said. “We need to rise up and say something about it, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of people. We hope people will be in tune that we have a serious problem here, because you can’t get out here and call our women ‘bitches’ and ‘ho’s.’ Our Black women are better than that…I think it is a disgrace that he would say something like this especially after having a daughter himself.”

Twyman said he doesn’t understand why Beyoncé is considered a good role model for young women. He said he fails to see how the couple gives back to the community and criticized the high prices charged for admission to their concerts.

“I just do not see what they are giving back to the community and we Black people are supporting this foolishness by coming to these concerts,” he said. “These concerts are so expensive, and these kids they need to be educated. They don’t need to be spending money on this kind of thing.”

Maria Adebola

Special to the AFRO