What's Happening In Your World
by Dr. Boyce Watkins, KultureKritic.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 , 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. But when you look at the black aristocracy that is known as Jay-Z and 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 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.” 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 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.  Belafonte is right on point. Dr. Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition . To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

Harry Belafonte Calls Out Jay-Z and Beyonce for Selfishness

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, KultureKritic.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, 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.

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24 comments

  1. The sad thing about this post is that unless you have the financial statements of where the money these celebrities make in front of your computer screen, you cannot state who is doing what. I know for a fact that Beyonce and her mother created a hair salon/school in Brooklyn and people can learn to do hair and cosmetology and make something of themselves. She also was responsible for providing money for irrigation in southern Africa or West Africa. Jayz being involved with the Barclay center has helped hundreds of people obtain employment. We must stop looking for entertainers to be the saviors. They make their money and they can do what they wish. If people have agendas and need financing, they need to put their needs in writing and then submit proposals to individuals. It is not up to entertainers to help and Black people are not really programmed to work financially together as they did in the past, because of trust issues, self hatred and lack of knowledge in the areas of need. I have been promoting free tv exposure for those individuals that want to advertise on my radio show. I even provide a free banner if they do and this will be for one month of advertisment they will get one month of free exposure on tv. I have even reduced my books so that my readers who are predominantly black to be able to purchase. Black people are not into always supporting Black people, and this needs to change. To publicly denounce a power couple that are learning and growing is harsh and the worst case of Willie Lynchness… http://www.futurenetworkproductions.com follow me on twitter doll360

  2. The sad thing about this post is that unless you have the financial statements of where the money these celebrities make in front of your computer screen, you cannot state who is doing what. I know for a fact that Beyonce and her mother created a hair salon/school in Brooklyn and people can learn to do hair and cosmetology and make something of themselves. She also was responsible for providing money for irrigation in southern Africa or West Africa. Jayz being involved with the Barclay center has helped hundreds of people obtain employment. We must stop looking for entertainers to be the saviors. They make their money and they can do what they wish. If people have agendas and need financing, they need to put their needs in writing and then submit proposals to individuals. It is not up to entertainers to help and Black people are not really programmed to work financially together as they did in the past, because of trust issues, self hatred and lack of knowledge in the areas of need. I have been promoting free tv exposure for those individuals that want to advertise on my radio show. I even provide a free banner if they do and this will be for one month of advertisment they will get one month of free exposure on tv. I have even reduced my books so that my readers who are predominantly black to be able to purchase. Black people are not into always supporting Black people, and this needs to change. To publicly denounce a power couple that are learning and growing is harsh and the worst case of Willie Lynchness… http://www.futurenetworkproductions.com follow me on twitter doll360

  3. Who he loves has nothing to do with what he does…Do some reading, its not lip service, he has been there and done that.

  4. crabs in a barrel…just another way to distract "us" from the real problem…hard to respect a "brother" who thinks a black woman is not good enough to be his wife…take that lip service elsewhere!

  5. Harry Belafonte is correct. JZ is a racist. He thinks that he can redefine words like the N-Word by using it his way.

    Words are the building blocks of knowledge and understanding. JZ reinforces prejudice against Black people when he uses the N-Word.

    He just doesn’t get it!!!!!

  6. Where are my comments?Are you the real “Phoney”,disguising as real truthful concern americans?You are practicing Nazi censorship.

  7. I agree with Mr. Belafonte that Jay-Z & Beyonce are selfish and they never give back. They use their fans to buy the garbage they promote for their own gains.

  8. But harry has always put it one the line for black folks. He did it when times were at the darkest. He ahs freely given fo this talent and money.He is what they aren’t afro centric.

  9. Alexander O’neil said it best” You are a FAKE: Kulture Kritic.

  10. I totally disagree with Ma Fille, let’s not forget who Jay-Z and Beyonce are connected to. Let’s not forget that their talent is prevelant because of our generation purchases their product clothing, and music without us they would not be where they are. So they owe a lot to their misguided fans. We have children who want to be just like these two rich and selfish. I am not proud of anything they have done because a lot of it is Selfish. They have sold thier souls for fame and fortune and no they are fighting like my ancestors when it comes to our black history having a lot of money doesn’t mean anything if you are not educating our children. I don’t need to know a lot about them to know that money is power and power can either make you or break you. I advise anyone to check the or history about the Illuminati you might think it has anything to do with conversation but it does and see who is connected.

  11. -All their money come from an extremely hard work & sacrifices for years and years…
    -Their images at the top is already very helpful accross the world….an inspiration to every young in the world,black and every communities… such Obama did as president in USA – they inspire success and represent the real hard work and United…without even talking – such the young Gabrielle Douglas did Historic – we can not blame them to not share their money like this or like that – they are free to contribute as they wish and ‘think good’ – we are in 2012…. people change, the generations does, in an other way they make a tribute to our community, in our days it’s way too hard to keep it up… and shining with the racism and discrimination like they do, they are the first black couple to earn that much…they have surely more work and plans, let’s be proud at least they are doing it – we should stay focus on the positive images that they share..because it’s shining down on all of us…and as I said this is inspiration…a Dream for an other generation – Like Beyonce says BeyInspired <3 (excuse my error, my english need works, excuse my French) B.B.

  12. most are are missing what he means by 'social responsibility' entirely and purposely b/c they are satisfied with the current plight of black americans and giving money to charity, anyone with a little common sense should know that that money never sees the 'hood'. social responsibility is being socially aware, politically aware, sharing what you know with the miseducated ones who follow you and trying to raise the social status, as well as other areas, of the black community, and people like them have the power–even more than the money–they have the power to make young black people listen but they shun that responsibility completely…b/c the youth won't listen to nobody but celebrities now.

    • but i also believe belafonte is the wrong person to be addressing this issue seeing as though he also has shunned social responsibility by marrying a nonblack. we don't need these type of black people speaking out for the black community. they too are part of the problem. black women aren't good enough for people like him, esp. since he has money. social responsibility entails, in this case, helping other blacks, something he has shunned with his nonblack wife who gets his money and that goes into the white world

  13. Mr.Belafonta could have never been more right, we've been in a privlege position for a very long time to produce and direct feature films about the African-American experience… I would love to see { Denzell Washington as Booker.T Washington.}

  14. What’s really sad is that most black people don’t even understand what Harry Belafonte is saying.

    • @Max, Right on Max!!!!!

    • @Max, Right on Max!

    • Max, You are absolutely correct. Harry Belafonte is one of the last of a dying breed—someone who knows what it’s like to be denied simply because of the color of your skin. He has been out there on the front line for years. I think, while chasing equality that was always going to be elusive, we dropped the ball. We failed to teach our children about the struggle–about the nameless thousands who suffered indignities so WE could vote, go to college, have dreams bigger than theirs–on whose shoulders we and they stand. We have lost generations of those who could be leaders because we dropped the ball.

    • Max, You are absolutely correct. Harry Belafonte is one of the last of a dying breed—someone who knows what it’s like to be denied simply because of the color of your skin. He has been out there on the front line for years. I think, while chasing equality that was always going to be elusive, we dropped the ball. We failed to teach our children about the struggle–about the nameless thousands who suffered indignities so WE could vote, go to college, have dreams bigger than theirs–on whose shoulders we and they stand. We have lost generations of those who could be leaders because we dropped the ball.

  15. A lot of stars are in a negative oraganize group of people that has them doing some off the wall shit for money and fame.

  16. HARRY IS SOOOOOO RIGHT!

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