The 85-year old actor and activist thinks Black celebrities, including the Carters, have turned their backs on social activism in order to attain more wealth and fame.
Whereas Belafonte came from an era where Blacks were literally fighting for their lives, he feel this generation of black celebs have benefitted from the fight, but done little to nothing to tell the story of their people or help out the next generation.
When asked in a recent interview if he was “happy with the image of members of minorities in Hollywood today, Belafonte held very little back.
“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. 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,” he accused. “That goes for Jay-Z and Beyoncé, for example. Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you’re talking. I really think he is black.”.
Kulture Kritic writer bowatkin also chimed in, giving their opinion on the one issue Beyonce and Jay-Z have spoken up for, gay rights and marriage equality.
“We must note that 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 shoulder-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 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. Poor black kids can’t buy your records, rendering them effectively useless.”
Bowatkin makes a point I totally have to agree with, and not just in the case of Beyonce and Jay-Z. High profile Blacks holding their tongues to remain in favor with the masses is nothing new, especially when it comes to issues dealing with the Black community.
The Trayvon Martin case is a good example of what Belafonte is talking about. The hip-hop community and a few black Hollywood outsiders (Spike Lee) spoke about the case, but little to nothing was heard from some of the biggest names in Black America.
Have your say Brown Sistas. Was Harry Belafonte right to criticize Beyonce and Jay-Z? Should the couple be incumbent to speak out on issues that may harm their careers?
Leave your comment and let us know.