Jay-Z wanted to help make the Trayvon Martin documentary to “check our compassion and our empathy”

In case you’ve somehow missed it, Jay-Z (or Shawn Carter, the name he prefers to use for projects outside music) has a brand new credit to his name: Producer of Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story, which starts airing today, July 30th. The documentary is a six-part, unscripted series which chronicles the devastating story of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen who had a deadly encounter with George Zimmerman back in 2012 — Martin was unarmed, but under Florida’s “stand your ground” law, Zimmerman shot and killed him. When Zimmerman was brought to trail and acquitted of murder charges, it help launch Black Lives Matter, a powerful activist movement that continues to this day.

Seeing how much Jay-Z’s creative pursuits involve music, it’s a pleasant surprise to find he’s pivoting to filmmaking — and telling such an important story at that. In an interview with the New York Times, the rapper-producer explained that his involvement stems from his desire to educating people about what really transpired and getting them to take action.

"There are a lot of things going on that lead to these sorts of films, these docs that I’m creating now. It’s more of an education, because it’s so egregious that people don’t believe it," he explained in the interview. "People have to really see this. They have to see it again and they have to see it with facts and details, because people don’t really believe it. Until the world believes it and everyone gets involved, it’s going to be a black problem."

Carter explained that he doesn’t believe that it’s a celebrity’s responsibility to shed light on important issues. Rather, he believes that raising awareness and getting involved is everyone’s duty.

"I think the way that people view celebrity is unfair. Everyone should be filling in and doing their part because it isn’t about money. It’s not." he explained. "That doesn’t solve it. I think that everyone should check our compassion and our empathy. That’s the thing that’s going to happen, that we all check in, and we get in touch with our compassion and empathy cause that is the solution."

He added: “And until we get into that place, things like this will continue to happen. We’re still on basic problems. This is like, you’re white, I’m black. I mean, there are so many different levels of all the complexities of things we have to get through as a human race, and we’re still on basic levels.

Carter is right: if we become more proactive and learn to strengthen our own empathy regarding these landmark issues, that’s when real change will happen. You can read his full interview here, and Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story premieres on Paramount Network and BET tonight at 10 p.m. local time.