I'm posting this on my blog, because I find it rather sad that we have devolved to this level. My best friend, Annie Gee, sent the article below to me, so I want to thank her for making me aware that we really do have some serious issues when it comes to how we address each other.
I recently commented on this roiling controversy on FaceBook, and I now see that it has taken on a life of its own. One can only hope that there are some lessons to be learned by us all.
First of all, as I mentioned previously, Jay-Z was certainly out of line disrespecting Harry Belafonte, no matter what his statement was. Harry is one of our Esteemed Elders. He has done more in his lifetime than ten Jay-Z's. That said, I was not aware that our brother Belafonte compared him to Bruce Springsteen. That was bound to have hurt him deeply, and has probably caused some rancor that might not have been forthcoming otherwise.
Springsteen, of course, has made a great many contributions in his own right, but, like the brother said, a Black man placing a white man ahead of another Black man is painful indeed. We are family. We have to stick together. There were definitely other, more quiet approaches that could have been used by our wise elder to get the point across - like lunch, a friendly phone call; a visit, etc....
I also understand the frustration Harry may be experiencing, seeing our youth, who have made immeasurable marks on the world at such young ages, "squander" their wealth. And, though I'm not sure that's the case with Jay-Z, I am sure that Mr. Belafonte sees the possibilities his impact can have on those youth who look up to and admire him. He probably wouldn't have made the comparison between Springsteen and Jay-Z, but the future and fate of Black people is an emotional and personal issue for him, and when the heart speaks, sometimes things come out in ways that others can't always filter through.
However, I think everybody is missing one important point: JAY-Z IS NOT AN ACTIVIST. He is not Harry Belafonte. He is Jay-Z. And while Harry may have blazed that trail, it many not necessarily be the right one for Jay-Z to walk in. So stop trying to force him to be something he isn't. He has his own merits. They need to be accepted for what they are.
Unlike Brother Boyce Watkins, I've never met brother Jay-Z, nor his wife. I've met Russell Simmons on several occasions, but not enough to have formed a relationship of any kind with him. Just enough to say "hi!" "bye!" I think it admirable that our Black (?) millionaires want to sign half their fortune to charity - just want to make sure which charities they're speaking of. I would also like to find out if there are some ways to develop living trusts, or combining some of the funds RIGHT NOW, so some of those funds can be applied RIGHT NOW People are in pain, losing homes, jobs, health, dignity - RIGHT NOW. Later may be too late.
Despite those statements just made, I do not expect our celebrities to get out there and shoulder the entire burden of Black people on their backs. Let's face it - our brothers and sisters (we) have to be part and parcel of our own salvation. Not everybody is going to be a Jay-Z, a Muhammad Ali, a Magic Johnson, Beyonce`, Mary J. Blige, etc., so let's get that out of the way right now. Somebody (a whole bunch of somebodies) are going to have to get jobs, work; create jobs, get educations, take responsibility for their children; stop buying or using guns against each other and innocent bystanders; drop the drugs, the four letter words, the n-gr behaviors; and that is NOT Jay-Z's job. He can only lend his celebrity to the endorsement of gun control in the communities, better neighborhoods, clean streets. I don't suggest he get out there and try to do it hands on - unless that truly is his calling.
We all got to get off each others' backs - RIGHT NOW. Rev. Jackson said we need to learn to turn TO each other, not ON each other. I totally concur. We have a tendency to have a judgmental attitude towards each other that causes schisms rather than unity. Not everybody walks the same path. Muhammad Ali came along during the time that we were dealing with Viet Nam, and a disproportionate number of young Black men were being drafted and sent to the front. The whole US was in an upheaval - from flower power hippies to Black power. We had 5 assassinations in the 60's: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy. Totally different era from Michael Jordan. Not a fair comparison.
If Jay-Z can inspire our wannabe J-Z's to do better, wonderful, well and good. But that change really has to be generated inside the kid himself, and it starts in his home, with his parents - his mother being the first educator. If she hasn't taught him to respect his elders, then you have another Jay-Z on your hand who would be just as rude to him, as he was to Harry Belafonte.
What we need across the board is a paradigm shift. A shift in our core values; a shift in who we listen to, what we do, what we learn and who's teaching us. Now Jay-Z may be able to help underwrite those programs; but he can't do the whole thing by himself. Nor should he, unless he wants to.
I used to work with a Japanese firm, and learned a great deal about allowing the person to be / do who he or she is - of course from the most positive, highest and best standpoint. If you help cultivate that, you've done something. Their talents are nurtured and they benefit themselves and the world. If you try to force them to be other than what their inner spirit dictates (provided it's healthy and positive, of course) you will always get less than their best.
We Black people have abrogated the responsibility of raising our children - or it's been legislated out of our hands, so that instead of corporal punishment, our kids, when they do get out of hand, become target practice for trigger happy cops, or undisciplined peers.
Despite this, Jay-Z successfully emerged from the Marcy Projects; they can too. Hopefully, using a much more positive path. They may not realize the monumental success he has achieved - but it's a testament to who he is on the inside, and the fact that he dug deep enough to find that inner man and bring it out. There are certainly things we (the so-called elders) can learn from him that can be translated into some methodologies for training our young men (and women). But until and unless he himself decides he wants to fill the activist role, let the brother be who he is.
By the way, did my eyes deceive me, or didn't I see photos of Jay-Z with Beyonce, Rev. Al Sharpton, and Trayvon Martin's Mom, Sybrina Fulton during the March for Trayvon last Saturday? It seems to me that he was pretty hands on at that time.
I made the following statement in response to a posting from a brother on Facebook in reference to President Obama, and the back biting he's taking from Corny West and Tavis Smiley - and a few others: "We know how to be gracious losers; but we're poor winners. We don't know how to win and be grateful; we don't know how to be happy for other winners. We've always got to find something wrong with them. It's as if we don't really trust winning, since so few of us have any real experience at it. We think they must have done something illegal, illicit, or it was blind, dumb luck. We have the tendency to pick it apart until there is nothing left but resentment (on both parts)."
Jay-Z's a winner; Beyonce's a winner. Harry Belafonte is a winner. Oprah Winfrey's a winner; Bill Cosby is a winner. They all have made and continue to make great contributions to our culture. If they inspire us, make us feel as if we have a shot of breaking through, so much the better. If they don't we still have to find that place within ourselves where God placed it to begin with, and begin to follow our own inner light.
STAY BLESSED &
PS: You know, our celebrity millionaires could buy Detroit, make it a chocolate city for real, and all the citizens would have to learn a trade or a skill and be part of the rebuilding of it to stay there - but they could get their own home for $1.00 and would have to work together in different neighborhoods as crews or colonies, to bring the city forward. - I'm just sayin' that's a great way to channel funds, provide homes, jobs, education in one swoop. SB&EB/GDW
Of course, as you know, I get the last word in this column, and it's this: Boyce, your tone is borderline hostile. Not a good thing. The old Biblical saying "a soft answer (statement) turns away wrath" still has merit today. There are some important things coming from your treatise, but the very accusatory tone is shouting above it, making it difficult to get beyond. God may have put Jay-Z on the earth to be a king; he may have put him on the earth to influence people via entertainment and production, but he did not put him on the earth to carry everybody on his back. Sorry, that's a shared responsibility, of which he has a role, but in which he is not the sole participant. We are a communalistic people; we are interdependent - true - but not symbiotic. With the many different organizations now forming to help young Black males, and hopefully young Black females, there has to be some synergy brought to bear. We all have our roles.THE ARTICLE FOLLOWS:http://www.yourblackworld.net/
2013/07/black-news/jay-z- responds-to-harry-belafonte- my-presence-is-charity-let-me- explain-why-hes-wrong/
Jay-Z Responds to Harry Belafonte: “My Presence is Charity” – Let Me Explain Why He’s Wrong
Jay-Z is one of the most respected hip-hop artists in the world. His lyrical brilliance is second-to-none, and he does things on the mic that most of us could never dream of. Let’s just get that out of the way right now.But one interesting thing about money, power and fame is that it can make you very defensive and sometimes even a little arrogant. This week, Jay-Z spoke to Rap Radar about the recent challenge by activist and entertainer Harry Belafonte, where Harry said that Jay-Z and his lovely wife Beyonce could do more for black people than get us to shake our b*utts and buy their records.Harry’s words didn’t fall on deaf ears, and Jay came back with a diss record during which he called Harry a “boy” and basically told him that his time of relevance is over. I personally felt that Jay’s words were both inappropriate and disrespectful, and it seemed that quite a few others felt the same way.In response to the Belafonte critique and subsequent backlash, here’s what Jay-Z had to say:“I’m offended by that because first of all, this is going to sound arrogant, but my presence is charity. Just who I am, 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.” –Call me crazy, but I hear some of where Jay-Z is coming from. Belafonte’s decision to attack Jay-Z likely triggered an automatic defense mechanism that most mega-celebs have to “brush their shoulders off” when haters come after them. A better approach might have been that of Oprah Winfrey, who accepted Jay-Z for his imperfections, yet challenged him to do better. Oprah is joining a group of other billionaires who’ve all agreed to give half of their wealth to charity when they die. That’s one of the things that makes her special in both physical and spiritual ways.On the flip side of that, I stick to my original position that Jay-z should respect the fact that Harry is twice his age. Harry did more for black America before the age of 30 than Jay-Z will probably do for the rest of his life. He came along during a time when dignity mattered more than diamonds, and standing up for your people meant more than getting cozy with corporate America. In fact, he risked both his life and his freedom for the black community, and there isn’t a celeb I can think of who would be willing to do the same thing today. Jay-Z grew up in an era where greed became God, so much of what we’re discussing might be outside his sphere of understanding: I fully expect that he is going to ignore me.I’ve never met Jay-Z, but I built a bridge to work closely with his friend, Russell Simmons. Our common ground leaned on the idea that we both believe that the black community cannot prosper without committing ourselves to ending the criminalization of young black men. I wish Jay-Z had joined the 175 other celebrities who signed our open letter the president, but for some reason, he did not.One thing I would hope is that Jay-Z is willing to allow himself to be educated on two points behind his statement about Belafonte. Without judging too harshly, here are two things that Hova needs to understand:The first point is that your presence might be meaningful, but symbolism only means so much. Jay’s comparisons to president Obama are very telling in that both of them seem to believe that it makes sense to compensate the black community with your face, so that they can “watch the throne” and dream about becoming big shots one day themselves. Sure, this might mean something to some people, but it can also be a cop out for a lack of courage and commitment to doing what is right.
An example would be a father who believes that he is being a good role model to his son by simply coming home every day and paying the bills, or a husband who thinks he gave a woman a gift by getting married and doing nothing else. But this doesn’t include the value of spending time, making sacrifices, and all the other things that come along with being a good partner or parent. When it comes to public figures who’ve been given power and a voice, simply showing your face means nothing if your presence leads to little or no action on your part.The second thing that Jay-Z might need to understand is that there is a difference between charity and activism. Charity is valuable, no question about that. But the black community isn’t looking for Jay to fund a couple of scholarships or do a few free concerts. Black America needs public figures with testicular fortitude and the desire to stand up for them when they are suffering. Anyone who peeks at the quality of life data knows that, without question, black people are suffering in ways that are unimaginable. Jay-Z and Beyonce have become like the megapastors who roll to church in a Bentley while half of their congregation is starving to death.Slavery wasn’t ended with charity. The civil rights movement didn’t happen because Dr. King provided symbolism. Harry Belafonte never once believed that the depth of his obligation to his people simply meant showing his face and saying “Watch the throne b*tches and give me your last twenty dollars.” Harry’s actions meant connecting to the depth of his manhood, making tremendous sacrifices, marching, organizing, testifying, refusing to perform, boycotting, speaking out, taking risks and doing all that he could to prove himself to be a worthy soldier on the battlefield of equality.Mind you, not every entertainer is expected to be a soldier like Harry Belafonte. He was certainly one of a kind. But Jay-Z can learn a thing or two from the Sports Illustrated poll which asked if Michael Jordan or Muhammad Ali was the greatest athlete of the 20th century: Both men are champions. Both men were the best in their sports. Both men are admired around the world. But when it was all said and done, the contest wasn’t even close.The reason that Ali dwarfed Michael Jordan is because for Michael, his inability to give to a cause greater than himself makes him a one-trick pony. All he is and ever will be is a great basketball player who sold a few gym shoes. Muhammad Ali transcended his sport and influenced people who’ve never seen a boxing match. He put his career on the line to save thousands of lives from the Vietnam War. He spoke up about racism during a time when his people were being beaten and killed just for being black. He sacrificed the peak of his career in order to stand up for his people. Unlike men like Jay-Z and Jordan, Ali never let a white man turn him into a boy by scaring him into silence. That’s why he will always be “the greatest.”Jay-Z: Your people are suffering unemployment rates that are the worst we’ve seen in decades. We’re being locked away in a mass incarceration epidemic that is as bad as the Jewish holocaust. Kids are finishing high school without even knowing how to read. Young black males who look like you are having their heads blown off on the way to school.My question is: What in the h*ell are you gonna do about it? Just show your face and do a few cute little charity events? Or are you going to think like a man and stand up for the people you love? Your voice has tremendous power. You’ve got hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank. What in the world are you afraid of? That white people are going to take it all away from you? It’s one thing for a poor man to be fearful of taking political risks for important causes, but when you are nearly a billionaire and just as fearfully silent, that is tantamount to a form of mental illness.The final point I’d make to Jay-Z is this: You came out of the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn, defeated the odds, and rose to the top of the world. This feat didn’t go unnoticed by the millions of 12-year old Jay-Z wannabes, many of whom live in the same projects that you came from. But the data says that 99.9999% of those young men are never going to get a record deal, marry a woman as gorgeous as Beyonce or fly private jets to foreign lands. A larger percentage of them are going to end up dead, in prison, uneducated, unemployed, addicted to drugs and alcohol, and all the other things that happen to countless young black men across the country.If your massive wealth, power, influence and fame only helps one or two people who came out of Marcy projects and ignores the other thousands of black children who live in the same situation, then the blessings you’ve received from God have been wasted. God put you on this earth to be a king, but you’ve allowed those around you to convince you to be a mascot.When you’re standing on the shoulders of giants, you can’t choose to be a spiritual dwarf. We’ve got 99,000 problems, and you’re only focused on one. That’s why Harry Belafonte dissed you.
Stay Blessed &