Roc Nation has been a household name since its launch in 2008. The full-service entertainment company founded by Jay-Z attracts a lot of attention because of the musicians it represents, such as Megan Thee Stallion and Rihanna. Fewer people know about Team Roc, the company’s philanthropic wing, but company CEO Desiree Perez
hopes to change that.
Desiree Perez Provides a Brief Primer About Team Roc
As part of the original management team that founded Roc Nation
, Perez has long been interested in social justice issues. Team Roc consists of eight members who contribute their time and resources to improving racial and social injustices.
In early 2020, Perez and her team worked with families in the legal aid system to sue the Mississippi State Penitentiary over the inhumane living conditions of 150 inmates. Another recent project Team Roc participated in was helping rap artist Meek Mill obtain an early release from prison. Because of her special interest in prison reform, Desiree Perez helped create the REFORM Alliance. The non-profit group researches and fights for reform in the nation’s criminal justice system, with a strong focus on probation and prisons.
What Motivated Perez to Form Team Roc?
The drive that led Perez to partner with Jay-Z to launch Roc Nation
is the same one that guides her philanthropic work with Team Roc. Her vision is to have a platform where those traditionally underserved and marginalized by society can find support and voice their concerns. Roc Nation had a strong presence in social activism well before Team Roc was launched as the company’s official philanthropic arm.
One cause that the Roc Nation family worked with long before the formation of Team Roc was the 2006 fatal police shooting of Sean Bell in Jamaica, Queens. Jay-Z followed updates about the situation and later established a college education fund for the children of Sean Bell. This was the organization’s first involvement with social justice issues, a tradition that has continued for the past 15 years.
When asked why Roc Nation felt the need to form an official charitable organization associated with the company if it was already involved in social justice work
, Desiree Perez said that having an official name gave Team Roc legitimacy. When an employee of Roc Nation requested information about a cause they were researching, it was more formal to speak on behalf of an organization rather than as an individual requesting information.
The legitimacy of being an official philanthropic group came into play in 2018 when Team Roc became involved in the case of Montavious Smith, a black man arrested at a shopping mall in Memphis and charged with felony probation violation. The initial reason police officers gave for arresting Smith was that he was wearing a hoodie that went against the mall’s official dress code.
As Perez and her team researched the issue further, they found that the mall routinely discriminated against black people through its dress code policy. She got the mall owner to drop the policy, thereby forcing Memphis police to drop their charges against Montavious Smith. Team Roc takes on many police misconduct issues that they believe stem from racial discrimination.
Team Roc Tackles Education and Poverty Issues for Children
Desiree Perez also has a keen interest in social issues
that impact children. She recently selected the Diamond Ball School, brought to her attention by singer Rihanna, as a priority of Team Roc. She also pushed for RC22, a school in the Dominican Republic, to receive priority funding. Desiree Perez is proud of all that Team Roc has accomplished so far, and knows the organization can never stop fighting on behalf of people who do not have the voice to fight for themselves.