Jul 16, 2013

So I was perusing the internet today trying my best to find something that would distract me from the utter heartache and depression I was feeling during the aftermath of the George Zimmerman verdict when I came across this article on the Single Black Male website.  In the article, the writer breaks down Jay-Z finally responding to one Mr. Harry Belafonte's claim that he and his wife are not socially active enough in the community. 

For you all who may not remember what Mr. Belafonte said allow me to offer you a refresher.  In August of last year, Mr. Belafonte sat down with the Hollywood Reporter for a very candid interview that led to him making his infamous remarks about Jay and Bey.  Here is the question he was asked and what he said:

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 Afghans, the Iraqis 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 Beyonce, for example. Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you’re talking. I really think he is black.
In response to what Mr. Belafonte, BeyoncĂ©'s camp came out with a long list of charitable organizations that the superstar singer was involved with, but it was her husband's noticeable silence that garner most of the attention.  Well that silence is no more.  Mr. Shawn Carter decided to respond to Mr. Belafonte by coming at him in a song, Nickels and Dimes, on his new album, Magna Carta, Holy Grail.

Here is what Jay said in the song:

I’m just trying to find common ground
‘Fore Mr. Belafonte come and chop a nigga down

Mr. Day O, major fail
Respect these youngins boy, it’s my time now
Hublot homie two door homie
You don’t know all the shit I do for the homies
 Let me first start by saying that what Jay-Z had to say in response to Mr. Belafonte is in no way surprising.  The absolute disrespect he displayed for one of our elder statesman is a widespread problem we're experiencing in our community.  Young people have absolutely no respect for their elders.  Jay-Z is not fit to carry Mr. Belafonte's shoes let alone walk on the path that those said shoes helped to carve out in the first place.

Harry Belafonte is a Civil Rights icon who was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to secure the advancement of his people.  He was willing to die for this.  Can the same be said for Jay-Z?

When Mr. Belafonte refers to social responsibility he isn't speaking of charity acts.  That's where people get it wrong.  The social responsibility he's speaking of isn't about throwing money at an issue, but rather having enough passion for an issue that you're willing to risk everything in order to see that thing through.

You see during Mr. Belafonte time when there was a huge injustice that took place in this country he along with countless other entertainers such as Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Dick Gregory, and many more would risk everything---their money, careers, and lives---to see that justice was served.  This is no longer the case this day and age.  It's a rare thing to see artists willing to risk anything when it comes to speaking up for the social injustices that are taking place around them and in the very communities that helped them become stars in the first place.  Sure a couple of them may wear t-shirts, but not many are willing to get in the trenches like the people of Mr. Belafonte's time.

Jay-Z was wrong on so many levels for the way in which he chose to respond to Mr. Belafonte.  I know some want to defend him by saying Mr. Belafonte came at him wrong first, but the last time I checked Mr. Belafonte is an 86 year old man who has earned the right to say whatever the hell he wants to say.  When you have done the things that Harry Belafonte has done and accomplished for his people then you have the right to speak your mind.

Maybe I was raised different because my grandfather is a 82 year old man who grow up in the segregated south.  He was called boy (the exact same thing Jay-Z referred to Mr. Belafonte as) by the white man for most of his life.  So at this point in his life he feels the need to speak his mind on things that he sees as wrong.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that when he was young he wasn't able to speak his mind for fear he lose his life, but whatever the case may be he still speaks his mind.  Trust me, I don't agree with everything he says.  Hell there are some times he is dead wrong, but I dare anyone try to check him and tell him that.  You know why we don't check him; besides, the fact he would probably knock our asses out, is because we have the utmost respect for him.  His very existence is the reason why he is deserving of respect.  The same can be said for Mr. Belafonte.

So instead of throwing shots at Mr. Belafonte, Jay-Z should have shown some humility.  Yes I said humility.  I know that's a strange concept to many in the Hip-Hop industry, but it would have served him well in this situation.  Jay-Z could have benefitted greatly from the wisdom of one Mr. Belafonte.  Besides, it's Mr. Belafonte's shoulders in which he stands and he wouldn't want Mr. Belafonte to consider him dirt he needs to dust off his shoulders.


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