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Harry Belafonte Urges NAACP To Form "Radical" Think Tank Group

by Cynthia Reid
July 31, 2011 11:19 AM
16 Comments
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At the 102nd annual NAACP national convention currently taking place in Los Angeles, actor and activist Harry Belafonte echoed statements we've all heard before regarding blacks in film. He stated the Hollywood industry will..."never ever yield to the needs of people of color."

While his conclusions aren't new, he did make a point to urge the NAACP to form a group of artists and thinkers to inspire the kind of "radical thought" necessary for change, and he called on black actors and filmmakers to "come together and create some institutional base that's ours."

Concerning finding answers he stated..."You're not going to find solutions until you're willing to embrace radical thought. Every time black people moved ahead in the history of this country is because somewhere in this nation, a group of people dared to think radically and do radical things."

On a panel that included Louis Gossett Jr., Tatyana Ali, Hill Harper and members of the Black Stuntmen's Association, Belafonte explained that black artists and consumers are responsible for changing the way the entertainment industry represents people of color.

"It seems to me that long ago we could have put together black studios, put together a black distribution center. Maybe we couldn't reach 100 million, but we could reach 100,000, and have 100,000 exposed to a great truth. I'd rather have that than 100 million exposed to something vacuous and inaccurate."

Finally, he summed up his belief saying..."in pursuit of ego, in pursuit of large, ridiculous sums of money, we have sold our birthright that somehow we are more victim than we are responsible."

Words of wisdom from our elder! You can read the complete article HERE.

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16 Comments

  • urbanauteur | August 2, 2011 5:46 AMReply

    One can just look at the recent debt ceiling debacle and assess our so-call middle class,working poor quadmire and surmise that this is another example of the material reality of Our collective [pragmatic] struggle, so the salient point is our We willing to commit Class Suicide? take this motha out!.

  • CareyCarey | August 2, 2011 2:32 AMReply

    After this dust has settled, I’d like to champion the words of Joann Saraydarian (the post below mine). She said: “Dividing never created anything but division .... let’s not agitate our Brothers”

    Now, imo, that was the best comment in this tread. So I have something to champion that thought.

    My father has gone home. I miss him, but I remember his words of wisdom.

    He was my little league coach and I was a pitcher. One day, a player on my team dropped a fly ball which caused me to lose my cool. As he scrambled to retrieve the ball, another player stumbled over him. The opposing team laughed and ridiculed the players to a point they both started crying. I didn't make matters any better with my mean look and foolish antics on the mound. Consumed by my emotions, I threw my next pitch with the fury of a Tasmanian Devil. I hit the batter square upside his head. My father called time out and approached the mound. His following words I will never forget... "look boy, don't ever play another man's game and don't be nobodies fool. Their job is to get you mad at your players and have you act a damn fool. Don't let them see you get rattled. Go out and tell Tommy it's alright and we are going to win this game. We don't need enemies on our own team"

    We, President Obama and the NAACP have a huge task in front of us. We’re all standing on the mound and the ball is in our hands. We don't need enemies on our own team. If someone tries to engage you in negative criticism about Obama or any black organization, stop, look and listen, and then ask them where they are going? Don't play another man's game and don't be nobodies fool.

    Remember, Rome was not built in a day and 43 white fellas have played in the white house for over TWO CENTURIES - THAT'S 200 YEARS YAWL! And that's a loooog time. Taking that into consideration, President Obama has been in the white house but a blink of the eye. I suggest we look at the bad, and the good, and then see what best suits our goal. Step up, left up, and not break down.

    Lets build something to pass on! I say, move the petty indifferences out of the way and look ahead to a better day. Don't be led astry. The divide and conquer trickeration has been used on us (effectively) for far to long.
    ONE MO TIME..... WE DON'T NEED ENEMIES ON OUR OWN TEAM.

    CareyCarey http://careycarey-carrymehome.blogspot.com/

  • JasonJee | August 1, 2011 12:45 PMReply

    This old negro annoys me. Calling Colin Powell and 'Uncle Tom' and all this radical sssh black this and black that laid up with some old white broad.

  • Vanessa Martinez | August 1, 2011 12:04 PMReply

    I agree with Mr. Belafonte :)

  • Joann Saraydarian | August 1, 2011 10:10 AMReply

    Dividing never created anything but division. This is a time of Group Cooperation. I'm all in favor of the principle that Frederick Douglass saw Power in-Agitate, Agitate, Agitate...but let's not agitate our Brothers. Obama esp. could use a helping hand-who has the strength to fight the battles he fights everyday?- Harry should use his Power-and he has it-for fighting with his Brothers not against Them.

  • CareyCarey | August 1, 2011 8:05 AMReply

    Laura said: "(btw, they [NAACP] have done some good work where I live)"

    Macca said: (loved this comment and her whole post)

    "As one commenter said, the NAACP doesn’t owe Blacks anything! We like to play the blame game and a point fingers at what we think is the problem, when we can only blame ourselves for being unresponsive bystanders in our community"

    Nuff said.

  • Laura | August 1, 2011 7:37 AMReply

    @ Mecca

    I totally agree with you. The NAACP does not "owe" people anything. But when you go around giving out "Images Award" and promote films like "The Help" as films that are "socially beneficial" for Black folks, you will get a BIG DAMN side-eye from me if you won't put a fraction of resource on our independent image maker. I will call you out. They are a bunch of Corporate Shills.

    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People don't "owe" Black folks anything. However there is a social contract between Black folks and that organization that is based on history.

    Many a people were lynched, burned, hung, raped, livelihood snatched from them for the causes which the NAACP championed. And these folks were the foot soldiers -everyday volunteered. The salaried upper echelons decision makers were not the foot soldiers. Folks trust the NAACP. That trust is still there.

    On top of that people pay membership dues to the NAACP.

    So if you gonna make claim that as an organization reason for existence to champion the cause of "Colored People", and solicit membership from those folks, then act like it.

    As a dues paying member of my local NAACP chapter (btw, they have done some good work where I live), I'm going to call them out.

  • Mecca | August 1, 2011 6:11 AMReply

    ”never ever yield to the needs of people of color.”

    I understand Mr. Belafonte’s point of view but we are in 2011 when are Black people going to realize that Hollywood will not and will never change to suit our needs. I mean you can protest, scream and shout at the top of your lungs but nobody gives a damn about the image of Black people on screen. In Hollywood rich-white-Jewish-executives call the shots on everything.

    It is a dog-eat-dog world out there no industry is “equal” people of color will always experience the injustice of the world wherever you go. It really sucks if you ask me, it is almost as if this world was not built for you but you are trying to assimilate with everybody to make a living.

    ”in pursuit of ego, in pursuit of large, ridiculous sums of money, we have sold our birthright that somehow we are more victim than we are responsible.”

    Belafonte makes very interesting points here in his argument. I have an issue with entertainers always pointing out the dilemma but they never have any solutions to offer to the growing concern at hand.

    I agree w/ DCMovieGirl “...but less talking more doing, please!

    I’m afraid we talk too much and have no initiative to actually get up and get things going ASAP! I realize that it is not an easy process but all this talking is not helping any of us we have the funds we can easily get things done.

    @ Laura

    “As one commenter posted on the thread about NAACP supporting the film The Help w/Viola Davis. NAACP is not interested in “positive” Black images. If they were the would put some resources (financial, manpower and/or institutional) to promulgating and promoting the Black film indie movement.”

    As one commenter said, the NAACP doesn’t owe Blacks anything! We like to play the blame game and a point fingers at what we think is the problem, when we can only blame ourselves for being unresponsive bystanders in our community.

    I type fast ignore any typos you see.

  • Laura | August 1, 2011 5:20 AMReply

    Jmac, it's because they know Black folks ain't gonna fall for the oki doke. No matter what you think about movies like "Madea Go to Jail", "Jumping the Broom" and "Lottery Ticket", the benevolent white and downtrodden black is going the way of the Pontiac Cars. It's not quite there yet. But Hollywood knows that Black films can succeed without having white folks central in the narrative.

    They're trying to make "The Help" socially relevant. It is not. So why would Blacks see a film that not socially relevant well maybe the film is entertaining. I don't think Black women being maids are entertaining to Black folk.

    And another thing Jmac. I hate, I hate the idea Black folks must watch movie as if we are doing civic duty by watching a narrative film.

    *walking to the naughty chair for hijacking the thread*

  • JMac | August 1, 2011 4:41 AMReply

    On an off topic/slightly on topic note, did anybody see the new Jet magazine? Front page: Why We Need to See "The Help." Son of a bitch! How much are they gonna spend to brainwash people for a damn fictionalized movie!?

  • JMac | August 1, 2011 4:33 AMReply

    Jason, that old negro and others like him (including the oft hated Bill Cosby) have done more for black entertainers during and after Jim Crow than the (few) brothers out here now with black wives.

    If you're going to judge somebody, do it based on their actions.

    I love Skip Gates and will read his books and watch his programs until I can't do either anymore. Based on the sum of his works, nobody can say his extreme passion for black people and black cultures on this planet is negated due to the color of his wife.

  • Gigi Young | August 1, 2011 4:28 AMReply

    Don't rely on the NAACP for anything...a major (white) corporation or studio can flash money their way and they'll bail on black folks in a heartbeat. Don't believe me? Check out what happened with the NAACP's lawsuit against Wells Fargo for targeting blacks with subprime mortgages. Wells Fargo donated a few million to the NAACP and the suit was dropped. Look at the MSNBC debacle--Benjamin Jealous was clearly angling for a seat on the network, but they half-assed and bamboozled everyone by hiring Al Sharpton rather than a qualified black journalist/pundit (and Sharpton went on to call the NABJ "crabs in a barrel" after they expressed their displeasure over his appointment).

    If we want to build institutions like the one Belafonte, or the ones brainstormed here at Shadow & Act, it must be with new blood. Veteran organizations and old-time black "leaders" are here only for their own gain.

  • Laura | August 1, 2011 2:14 AMReply

    I believe that the NAACP National Organization will never do such and idea one reason and one reason only. They will become obsolete and that means no jobs for professional civil rights workers. They accept corporate money to keep the status quo. The status quo is Black folks begging and staying socially and economically vulnerable.

    As one commenter posted on the thread about NAACP supporting the film The Help w/Viola Davis. NAACP is not interested in "positive" Black images. If they were the would put some resources (financial, manpower and/or institutional) to promulgating and promoting the Black film indie movement. That film movement has been around since Oscar Michaux and Lincoln Motion Film Company. No such thing ever happen and it never will.

    As far as I'm concern the NAACP is all bout taking corporate money so the workers could stay employed.

  • James Madison | July 31, 2011 12:00 PMReply

    Exactly how I feel. We ALL know what the problem is. Let's stop "talking" about it and be aggressive with positive "action".

  • dcmoviegirl | July 31, 2011 11:51 AMReply

    So much truth, especially this:

    "in pursuit of ego, in pursuit of large, ridiculous sums of money, we have sold our birthright that somehow we are more victim than we are responsible..."

    ...but less talking more doing, please!

    I think today's mass accessibility has created a vacuum of loud, ultimately empty rhetoric which appears to be for us, but usually is actually about the one talking.

  • JMac | July 31, 2011 11:48 AMReply

    Preach on Brother Harry!

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