Beyonce, Jay Z gets called out by Harry Belafonte. : ThyBlackMan.com

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Beyonce, Jay Z gets called out by Harry Belafonte.

August 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Ent., Music, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

(ThyBlackMan.com) Harry Belafonte, who did a great deal of work for the black community during the Civil Rights Movement, is making no secret of the fact that he’s very disappointed in many young black celebrities when it comes to to social activism.  Speaking this week with the Hollywood Reporter, Harry Belafonte pointed out Jay-Z and Beyonce as prime examples of what he’s talking about.

THR: Back to the occasion of the award for your acting career. Are you happy with the image of members of minorities in Hollywood today?

Belafonte: Not at all. They have not told the history of our people, nothing of who we are. We are still looking. We are not determinated. We are not driven by some technology that says you can kill Afghanistans, the Iraquis or the Spanish. It is all – excuse my French – shit. It is sad. And I think one of the great abuses of this modern time is that we should have had such high-profile artists, powerful celebrities. But they have turned their back on social responsibility. That goes for Jay-Z and Beyoncé, for example. Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you’re talking. I really think he is black.

My friend Alexis Stodghill at TheGrio makes the point that perhaps Belafonte is off-base with his critique.  She notes that Beyonce has spoken up for her fellow recording artist Frank Ocean when he admitted that he was gay, and that Jay-Z has chumed it up with President Obama during his presidential campaign and supported him on the issue of gay marriage.

We must note that Singer Beyonce and Jay-Z speaking up on gay marriage and homosexuality is little more than a political decision designed to remain in alignment with the Obama presidency.  If Barack had said nothing on the issue, Jay-Z would have said nothing.  So, we have to be sure not to mistake  meaningful advocacy for elitist political should-rubbing (wealthy famous people tend to take care of one another).

But when you look at the black aristocracy that is known as Jay-Z and Singer Beyonce, one form of activism that is missing is anything that involves the words “poor black people.” Also, when it comes to issues that affect the least of us, including poverty, mass incarceration, urban violence, unequal educational systems and the like, it’s easy to say that Jay-Z and Singer Beyonce have been effectively missing in action, unless it’s time to show up and utilize this audience to sell albums.

I noticed a line in Jay-Z’s song “Niggaz in Paris,” where he says, “Can you see the private jets flying over you?”  This line is part of a consistent message of black elitism that has become all-too prevalent in the entertainment industry. It is a statement which says, “I’m better than you, and I am not one of you.  Your job is to either worship me or hate on me, I don’t care which one.”

Rapper Jay-Z is the same man who earned over $63 million dollars last year and only gave $6,000 to charity.  Unfortunately, this has become par for the course in a world where poor black people are not nearly as fashionable of a cause as gay white kids from the suburbs.

So, while Beyonce and Rapper Jay-Z speaking up on marriage equality is a politely cute form of activism, you have to agree with Belafonte that today’s artists are taught not to care about anyone other than themselves.  At best, we might get a photo op at a charity event, but the real pressure to sacrifice for those who are suffering is lost as millions of us forgive celebrities for being unwilling to use their power to make the world a better place.

Perhaps when Jay-Z really understands what wealth is all about, he can take a note from Warren Buffett, Oprah and others, who’ve convinced several billionaires to give half of their wealth to charity when they die.  A billion dollars is far more than enough for one family so why not use the rest of save 1,000 families?   Is it nothing less than utterly shameful to have 10 houses, 15 cars, 200 expensive suits and several private planes?  Perhaps there is a point where such gluttony should not be celebrated by the rest of us, and instead be called out as pathetic in a world where millions of children are going to die this year from starvation?

Anyone who disagrees with me might want to consider the fact that there is nothing consistent with the teachings of Jesus about letting innocent people starve while you’re burning money in your basement.  Harry Belafonte is right on point.

Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins
 
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. For more information, please visit http://BoyceWatkins.com.
 

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Comments

35 Responses to “Beyonce, Jay Z gets called out by Harry Belafonte.”
  1. thinking out loud says:

    An African American Teen…you are spot on…stay grounded because this world has many twists and turns…never allow anyone to shake your foundation or block your blessings.

  2. dardew says:

    An African-American teenager says: ” We’re always looking for someone to help us”. Teen I believe you’re a bit confused, for either of these two it would be giving back to the community which has enabled them to prosper. Rewind the tape back to their beginnings and you can find either one of these leeches asking the same community some feel they owe nothing for some support. Jay-Z certainly needs to step up and atone for some of the poison he was dispensing in the neighborhood that he so cowardly brags about in his lyrics.

  3. dardew says:

    I can’t believe the level of ignorance amongst some of our black youth of today. Beyonce and Jay- Z are indebted, as we all are to every generation of civil activist that have come before us. Let us ponder the possibilities of what our lives may be today if the civil rights pioneers of Mr. Bellefonte generation had not felt an indebtedness to the generation before theirs. Every tear I shed the night President Obama was elected was in homage to each and everyone of them and their personal sacrifice made for that day to become a reality, so they gave back. I refuse to spit upon on the grave of MLK, Medgar Evers, my parents and the thousands of others who gave so much for the opportunities and benefits we harvest today. If take issue or fail to realize the bigger picture of what Mr. Bellefonte is expressing, your ignorance of the struggle is sadly paramount, plain and simple. To make it more simplistic so that you simpletons can better put it into perspective, you can thank them for the white girls you’re able to sport in public, minus the fear of “unchallenged” retribution. If you were unaware, once upon a time you could get drug out of your bed in the middle of the night and murdered for just whistling at one.

  4. An African-American teenager says:

    I understand the message this article is trying to push to its readers. However, I’m on the fence regarding this issue. I do agree that it would be nice if those in the black community could help one another, no matter the rank that person holds. But speaking from the other side of the situation, I think one of the largest issues in the black communities is that we look for ways to victimize ourselves. We’re always looking for someone to help us, the easy way out. Don’t get me wrong, there are many black people that work hard, but I’m looking at the image as a whole. In the community I live in, black people will stand in line and wait for a pair of Jordans before they stand in line and wait for a job application. And please note, they are the same black people that have asked for 6 extensions on unemployment checks, and are lying on food stamp applications, and taxes. So yes, I do wish those that have more than enough would help those that are struggling even though they’re working hard. But let us not forget about those that cheat the system because they’ve been getting help all their lives, and they haven’t even tried to help themselves.

  5. just sayn says:

    @real man – MAN UP! Yes, it’s idiotic to give the Obamas a pass. Rappers normally speak against this BS but today no rapper “veteran or otherwise” would breathe the truth about the Obamas for fear of being ostracized. The IRONY is that Chuck D, Public Enemy #1, is endorsing these public parasites!

  6. The article is correct in the sense there’s no support in the hip hop and R& B community like it was in the sixties. We as a community don’t support each other like we used to. I guess we bought into this so called American dream, which I think has become an American nightmare for a lot of people in our community. We have no unity at all and we’ve become so selfish when it comes to helping each other. We are afraid to speak out because of fear of losing what we have, which shows you, we control nothing.

    Anytime you have to rely on the same community who murdered, raped and enslaved our ancestors for your livelihood, you’re already in trouble. They can take it away anytime they want, which is what is happening now. When will we wake up before it’s too late and start to do for ourselves, just like every other group that’s making fortunes off us does. Slavery is alive and well because we still haven’t dealt with the psychological effects of it, which is the main reason why we don’t work together.

    Black Unity means financial independence and happiness

  7. realman says:

    @Just sayn

    You’re a complete idiot.

  8. just sayn says:

    It is utterly shameful for Michelle to travel the world stimulating economies abroad especially since Barack is constantly lecturing mainstreet to tighten their belt buckle. Michelles’ trip to 3 Countries alone costed taxpayers more than a million $$ and Barack had the nerve to suggest the first lady should receive a salary because her job is so demanding. Harry should criticize the Obamas who are living large off taxpayers in a stagnate economy instead of hating on J & B who are private citizens who have earned their wealth and can spend it anyway they see fit!

  9. Deeann D. Mathews says:

    I had to think for a good, long time before commenting on this article.

    I think that Harry Belafonte is basically correct; today’s artists are not as willing to lay life and career on the line for the sake of Black people as a whole as Mr. Belafonte and many in his generation were. But there is evidence that while the Carters haven’t yet given away much money in obvious ways, they are active in giving through setting up programs — and that is what I want to talk about.

    I have always believed that it is sometimes better, if you have the capacity, to meet needs by creating on your own. When you give to something pre-existing, a certain amount of what you give has to filter through whatever pre-existing culture and structure has been set up. When you have the money and responsibility that the Carters have, it is definitely time to think about building vehicles to do good on one’s own, and that appears to be what they are doing.

  10. Nikki O says:

    Where’s the love button…I love this article..I swear if the lord ever blessed me with wealth I would SF o,,all I could to help those families…God blesses us to be a blessing here on earth and to do his work!…and I would always tell them don’t thank me thank God ,it was him not me!…To God be the Glory!

  11. Ulo says:

    We as a people are in trouble economically – technically – even mentallity. Our wealthy do not build lasting foundations for our peple – most waste their wealth in materialistic stupor. JayZ and Beyounce perfect example of absolute silliness. Right on Harry!

  12. jewel says:

    i say people teach home first not rappers or singers i am from houston b do not have her high school diploma. She is getting her ged

  13. LEE says:

    @TAJ – Beyonce went to private school and was home schooled and received a diploma. Based on your post, it’s clear you’ve missed a few grades yourself.

  14. taj says:

    true IM 15 AND KNOW THEY NEVER SAY ANYTHING KNOW MONEY AND BEY DOESNT SAY ANYTHING EATHER SHE SISNT EVEN FINISH9TH GRADE SO SHE CANT SAY ANYTHING TO ME !

  15. Adam C-mo says:

    I disagree. Jay-Z and Beyonce have long supported the LGBTQ before President Obama. Look at Beyonce’s “Freakum Dress,” “Get Me Bodied,” and “Single Ladies” videos just to name a few. I like that they actually followed President Obama’s lead. If we as American’s would follow the person’s lead that is in charge a lot more would be accomplished.

  16. hiphoptruth says:

    Note – on previous hiphoptruth message below, “they don’t teach OUR kids that” refers to many rappers and industry execs producing music that teaches: drug dealing, being over sexualized and drug using (all leads to spiritual or physical death) instead of making music teaching positive “life”

  17. DaTruth says:

    Too many black folks just don’t get it.

  18. DaTruth says:

    This is pathetic but not surprising, the lack of critical thinking in the black community is unbelievable. Many of the comments are just as bad as that ignorant football player Justin Durant saying he would eat chick-fil-a even if they supported slavery.

  19. Umm Yeah says:

    I think Mr. Belafonte was using them as an example of a larger trend. That makes sense because honestly they are the most recognizable Black entertainers.

  20. James says:

    People outside of our community see how divided we are and they manipulate that. I wonder if it is the best strategy to bash our people in public instead of doing it privately. Aren’t we supposed to have some conversations behind closed doors and find a common strategy to support one another? Nobody can save the Black community alone, rich or not. We all have a responsibility.

  21. M says:

    To Umm Yeah,

    I see what you’re saying, but to place so much of this blame on Jay-Z and Beyonce is truly overreaching.

  22. J Realist says:

    HERE WE GO AGAIN

    It is about time someone said something! Thank you Mr. Belafonte. Jay and Bee will use us to sell albums…like idots we buy it. Stop listening to that crap. Three words: MOS DEF MATHEMATICS!

  23. hiphoptruth says:

    The only thing sadder than how wealthy celebs, upper AND middle class people turn their backs on the poor (all poor) by not donating time OR energy (go volunteer in the hood, not free meals either, go talk about college, how to get out, how to get real wealth) the only thing sadder is that WOW according to these comments, we don’t even expect that we SHOULD look out for each other. Sounds like most commenters are OK with rappers spewing things sending all our kids to he’ll broke, poor, and drug addicted, selling or whoring around while that same rapper’s lifestyle is all business, drug free and focused on growing/moving forward – but oh, they don’t teach OUR kids that part. Parents working two jobs to survive, no time to filter out bad music, kid consumes this celeb poison watching celebs while parents work, And these commenters are OK with that?

  24. Umm Yeah says:

    90% of you on this thread of idiots and sell outs. Glorifying those who got rich of a system that oppressed you and then fighting for these two fools who just spent $400,000 for on month of rent when that is the equivalent of 15 years of income for the average Black family. Let me call you out by name on this thread:

    Alonzo, Taurus, James, Antwoin, M, FACTS (chill with the caps)…

    YOU cats are prime example of why Black folks are still in the condition we are today. You have no ability to critically think, no understanding of the history of our struggle, and you glorify this pop culture bullsh$%, that is crushing our people.

    You sellouts glorify cats that got rich of exploiting us, selling drugs to us, sexualizing our young women and then try to down a man in Harry Belafonte who put more into the civil rights struggle so you could sit on this damn website and pop off than any of the entertainers whose dick you are riding.

    So while you are looking up to Jay-Z and Beyonce and defending their worthless as$#%@, some of us are out putting in real work for our people. Sellouts.

  25. FACTS says:

    JAY EVEN GIVES OUT FREE FOOD TO KIDS THAT BRING IN GOOD GRADES TO HIS SPOT DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN.

    BEYONCE HAD AN UNCLE TO DIE FROM AIDS AND JAY’S MOTHER IS GAY. TO SAY THEY’RE JUMPING ON THE GAY BANDWAGON FOR POLITICAL REASONS IS BEYOND THE SCOPE OF NOT KNOWING WHO THEY REALLY ARE.

    THESE TWO ARE ACTUALLY AMONG THE TOP OF THE CHAIN WHEN IT COMES TO BLACK CELEBRITIES THAT GIVE BACK.

  26. FACTS says:

    Mr. Belafonte is WRONG as well as the writer of this article. ARE YOU KIDDING ME THAT THEY’VE DONE NOTHING FOR “POOR BLACKS”, ETC.? WHAT ABOUT THE SEAN BELL FOUNDATION JAY-Z SET UP TO PUT ALL OF HIS KIDS THROUGH COLLEGE? WHAT ABOUT THE SHAWN CARTER FOUNDATION THAT FOR THE LAST FIVE YEARS HAVE BEEN HANDING OUT SCHOLARSHIPS TO UNDERPRIVILEGED KIDS? WHAT ABOUT THE WATER PUMPS JAY-Z HAD INSTALLED IN AFRICA? WHAT ABOUT THE COMPUTERS HE’S PUT IN SCHOOLS OVER THE YEARS IN POOR NEIGHBORHOODS? WHAT ABOUT THE WORK BEYONCE DOES BY REGULARLY GOING TO SPEAK WITH WOMEN IN HOMES THAT ARE DRUG ADDICTS AND REFORMED PROSTITUTES? WHAT ABOUT THE SCHOOL SHE OPENED TO GET THOSE WOMEN BACK ON THEIR FEET AND DONATES TO ANNUALLY TO KEEP IT RUNNING? WHAT ABOUT THE HOUSING THE KNOWLES FAMILY STARTED AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA AND BUILT AND PROVIDED HOMES FOR FAMILIES? WHAT ABOUT THE ENDLESS WORK SHE DOES WITH THE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL FOR WHICH SHE WAS HONORED? WHAT ABOUT THE ENDLESS DONATIONS AND HANDS ON DISTRIBUTING OF MEDICINE SHE DOES WITH AIDS PATIENTS ABROAD? WHAT ABOUT THE MILLIONS THEY GIVE AWAY TO CHARITY EACH YEAR?

    I COULD GO ON BUT THE IGNORANT COMMENTERS, MR. BELAFONTE AND THE WRITER OF THIS ARTICLE IS THE ONE THAT NEEDS THE WAKE UP CALL. CHECK YOUR FACTS BEFORE YOU SPURT OUT WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW.

  27. M says:

    But Beyonce has done a lot for the community. For example, the ‘Move Your Body’ campaign with Michelle Obama, she opened a cosmetology school for recovering drug addicts, has donated large amounts of money over the years, started the Survivor Foundation for Hurricane Katrina victims, etc. and this upcoming August 19th she will release her ‘I Was Here’ music video in support of World Humanitarian Day.

    To say that her agreement with gay marriage would not have been made public if Obama did not support it is a big assumption, and in fact a rather insulting assumption for Beyonce. It is true she has not really given it her stamp of approval in the past, but now that she has let’s not take away from that and say she is just aligning herself right.

    And lastly, Beyonce and Jay-Z are not the type of people who just got rich quick and sit on their cash and never work a day in their life. They are incredibly hard working people.

  28. Antwoin says:

    this generation in whole is far different than the ones before us white and black we are taught to look out for ourselves first theirs plenty of celebs that don’t donate or help the poor from all races but it’s also a few that do it’s their money they worked for so they should do as they please with it you have to remember most celebs was once poor so many don’t plan on going back so they tend to buy lavish things because as a child they couldn’t afford it

  29. RA07 says:

    This issue is multi-faceted and impossible to address in one article. As western capitalists, we’re told to do with our wealth what we want. Beyonce and Jay-Z did not ask to be community representatives or full time philanthropists so why should we bother them? What social obligation do they have?

    We are told as children to do what we can to help people. If you have a little, you give what you can afford. If you have a lot, you do the same. People expect a bigger donation, a bigger effort if you are able.

    These two are famous people. I agreee with the critic, that bragging about their personal wealth fleis in the face of “thy poor black man” tehy continuously profess to want to empower. Of course there is politics involved. What better way to raise your profile than lick the boots of the “first black president of the USA” and his wife, by writing letters of adoration, and saying on behalf of all women out there, what she has personally done for their lives (aka, very little in real terms).

    I have often concurred with first commentor, @Taurus. The modern balck man CAN BE his own worst enemy! But the insecurities/obstacles that hold people of colour back, were implemented by a racist society long ago, and to an extent are still upheld. However, in 2012, black people have the means to overcome these challenges, but it will take a mental effort from all to utilise the opportunities available.

  30. James says:

    Why similar articles are not written to denounce White rich people who are the ones who always exploited Black America and the so-called third world and who always will???

  31. Taurus says:

    Mr. Belafonte, Jackson, Sharpton and other Civil Rights figures need to realize that this isn’t the America that they grew up in. A lot has changed. The only thing getting in the way of the black man now is HIMSELF. No one is stopping us from owning our own business’, educating our children, and providing positive role models starting at home-

    What The Carters do with their money is their business.

  32. alonzo wilson says:

    They don’t have to give there money away all the time cause it’s a bunch celebrities that do the same thing. Every time somebody get rich they always wondering will that person give back to the community. Stop hating on beyonce and jayz cause why you hating they making money and for this to be a black website they always bashing black people especially beyonce and kanye west

  33. alonzo wilson says:

    They just want to make a story cause last year beyonce and jayz gave away 12 million dollar to charity so that dumb ass man need sit his old fucking ass down. He just mad that two powerful couple ain’t supporting his ass

  34. DaTruth says:

    Basically all of today’s rappers, hip-hop generation and athletes are nothing but an absolute embarrassment to the legacy of those Civil Rights Pioneers. Ignorant Negroes like Jay-Z, his wife and Kanye probably don’t even know who MLK was.

  35. kYm says:

    I love this quote by Belafonte! Right on time and on point!

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