jay-z-harry-belafonte

Jay Z’s not done addressing Harry Belafonte’s criticism of his lack of social activism. After responding on wax with lyrics some found offensive, the rapper spoke on Belafonte’s famous critique in an interview with Elliott Wilson for “The Truth” on Jay’s site “Life and Times.”

When asked if he was offended by Belafonte’s words, he said:

I’m offended by that because first of all, this is going to sound arrogant, but my presence is charity. Just who I am, [is charity], just like Obama is. Obama provides hope. Whether he does anything, that hope that he provides for a nation and outside of America is enough. Just being who he is. You’re the first black president. If he speaks on any issue or anything, he should be left alone. […] Of course we want to challenge [Obama] to do better, but I felt like Belafonte just went about it wrong. The way he did it, within the media, and then he bigged up Bruce Springsteen. It was like, ‘Whoa, you just sent the wrong message all around. You just bigged up the white guy against me in the white media.’ I’m not saying that in a racial way. I’m saying what it was just the wrong way to go about it. […] My presence is charity! Just this guy who came from Marcy projects apartment 530C, to these places of me playing in Yankee stadium tonight.

Many find it offensive that he would compare himself to President Obama, but I find it more egregious that he believes just his presence alone is charity. It’s true some may find his story inspiring, but social activism is about much more than individual success. It’s about using your platform to fight for the community as a whole.

To be fair, Jay Z did make an appearance at “Justice for Trayvon” Day in New York City, snapping a photo alongside the murdered teenager’s mother and Al Sharpton.

He also spoke on the verdict in his interview with Elliott Wilson, saying:

“I was really angry, I didn’t sleep for two days. I was really angry about it. We all knew there was still a bit of racism in America but for it to be so blatant… Ask yourself the question, ‘Didn’t Travyon have a right to stand his ground?’ He was being chased, he fought back. He may have won. That doesn’t mean he’s a criminal. He won. If you chase me and you try to attack me and I defend myself, how can I be in the wrong? How is that right? This guy went to get some skittles and go back to watch the All-Star game. He had plans. He had no intentions of robbing anyone’s home. […] It’s a thing where it’s like a reminder of, ‘We still got a long way to go.’ It’s beautiful because this generation right now, they don’t see color in that way. […] They’re funding George Zimmerman because they want to hold on to their guns. […] We all know it was wrong.”

It’s great to see Jay speaking out about injustice, but to truly make a difference in the way Harry Belafonte described, he has to do a little more than just bless us with his presence.

Watch Jay Z’s full interview below:

PART ONE:

PART TWO:

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  • Nataya1280

    Beyonce brought some sunshine to the Motor City this past weekend, when she breezed through on her “Mrs. Carter Show World Tour,” and she not only performed “A Change Is Gonna Come” specifically for that city, she’s has also released a tribute video.

    Two weeks ago, Detroit filed Chapter 9 bankruptcy after falling into debt of $18-20 billion. This is the largest bankruptcy of its kind in U.S. History.

    In Beyonce’s tribute video, she belts out the Sam Cooke classic, while highlighting some of the city’s best assets as well as some of the destruction over the years. She also showed photos of Detroit-bred celebs like Aaliyah, Eminem, Aretha Franklin and artists from the famous Motown era.

  • I know I’m in the minority with this opinion but here goes:

    I wasn’t offended at all with Jay’s statement. I feel like everyone took it out of context. Just like the paparazzi in your face, having people in your ear about how much you donate to charity or how active you are gets old. People who have nothing do with an artist’s time nor money question why they don’t give back or they have all this money they should give back. Um, that’s not your business. Although I do believe in giving back, in general you don’t have to be an activist nor give back just because you have a fortune. I hate when people try to shame others into doing so. Or they say they haven’t done enough. Jay-Z is not the savior of Black America’s plight lol nor is any other celebrity, athlete or artist.

    With that said, there are many ways to give back. Once you get to a certain level of notoriety your presence alone is valuable. Just you showing up somewhere raises the stock value of the place. That’s how these c level celebs make a living off club appearances which is beyond me but that’s not the point. The model works. People seem to have this notion that the only way to give back is via money. I remember when a random on twitter tweeted Opera about how much money she had and why she didn’t give back to the hood and she tweeted him back what have you done? You can mentor someone, or give them an internship/apprenticeship. You can also share your story or pay for a student’s books etc. I thoroughly believe giving someone knowledge and wisdom is way better than money. So I feel like when Jay stops to take time out to share his wisdom, which he doesn’t have to do, that’s him giving back. Him being at the level he is at proves others can do it too if they want it. I know for me that’s all I need. If I see one of my own making it, I know I can make it.

    When you factor Jay’s personality (he can be trite and a smart ass) and how people are looking for ways to dog him, I have no problem with what he said. If I had his money, I’d probably say it too. It’s no one’s business whether or not I choose to give back and how. JayZ was never a social activist so I don’t understand why people think they can hold him to that standard. What I do find appalling is how a person can tell someone oh you don’t do enough for the black community or you’re not active enough. I think I’ll call these folks Charity Nazis.