Jay Z Explores ‘Race’ for Nat Geo

Harvey Weinstein and Jay Z

Harvey Weinstein and Shawn Carter at Sundance. (Photo: Neilson Barnard / Getty Images for Spike TV)

Race (W.T.) is the first series from Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter’s production venture with the Weinstein Company. The six-episode series promises “a stark and provocative look into systemic injustices in America.”It will air globally on the National Geographic Channel in 171 countries and 45 languages, and in January 2 018 National Geographic Magazine will devote an entire issue to the subject of race to tout the show.

Since their film and TV production venture was announced in October Carter and Weinstein have announced dual film and TV projects about the life of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old fatally shot by a neighborhood vigilante in in Florida in 2012.

The partners also announced a docuseries for Spike TV about Kalief Browder, the Bronx teen who in 2015 committed suicide after serving three years in Rikers Island prison after being accused of stealing a backpack.

Race (W.T.) is inspired by, and an extension of, issues introduced in the animated short film “Jay Z: The War On Drugs Is An Epic Fail,” in fall 2016 for The New York Times online. The new series will weave together documentary, animation and archival footage to unfurl a collection of intimate and inventive tales involving people from all walks of life in cities across America.

“The country is not more divided than ever. The deep-rooted wounds and beliefs that are ingrained in our psyche and infect our society have always been here,” Carter said in a press release, noting that the show will contextualize past and present issues.

“Right now, we are experiencing the resurgence of attitudes from an ugly time in our history. When talking heads spoke of a post-racial United States of America, prejudices snuck into dark corners,” Carter continued. “Injustices never stopped; and stereotypes never faded. Why can’t a person of color walk down the street? Why is a person of color guilty until proven innocent? What is the responsibility of the media, local officials, community and religious leaders? What is our responsibility to each other?”

Carter — who with wife Beyoncé has a 5-year-old daughter and twins on the way — said he hopes the series will spark “conversations that are needed” that “hold a mirror to our broken institutions and ourselves.” Crime and punishment, wealth inequality, and the roles of social media, activism and family will all be explored in the show.

Joining Carter in making the announcement was the Weinstein Company’s Harvey Weinstein and National Geographic Global Networks CEO Courteney Monroe. “Racial injustice continues to plague our nation socially, economically and politically,” Monroe observed, adding the network hopes “to bring change and awareness to the issues.”

Race (W.T.) will be produced by The Weinstein Company for National Geographic. The executive producers are Harvey Weinstein, David Glasser and Patrick Reardon. Shawn Carter is executive producer. For National Geographic, Betsy Forhan is executive producer; Kevins Mohs is vice president, production; Alan Eyres is senior vice president, development; and Tim Pastore is president, original programming and production.

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