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Jay-Z Responds To Harry Belafonte's Challenge: 'My Presence Is Charity' (My Thoughts)

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by Tambay A. Obenson
July 27, 2013 12:37 PM
123 Comments
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"I’m offended by that because first of all, and this is going to sound arrogant, but my presence is charity. Just who I am. Just like Obama’s is. Obama provides hope. Whether he does anything, the 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…I felt Belafonte he just went about it wrong. Like the way he did it in the media, and then he big’d up Bruce Springsteen or somebody. And it was like, “whoa,” you just sent the wrong message all the way around…Bruce Springsteen is a great guy. You’re this Civil Rights activist and you just big’d up the white guy against me in the white media. And I’m not saying that in a racial way. I’m just saying what it is. The fact of what it was. And that was just the wrong way to go about it."

My one-word reply: Sigh.

Well, actually, I have a lot more than one word to say about this.

While some would argue that maybe Harry Belafonte could have handled his public challenge to Jay-Z and Beyonce differently, when you've lived for 86 years on this planet, fought through the many immense obstacles he and those of his generation had to on practically a daily basis, becoming a prominent face/figure, and fearless, unrelenting voice in the fight for civil, human and political rights globally, I'm willing to give him a pass.

Here are Belafonte's words, spoken in 2012, taken out of context I'd say, that led to Jay-Z's reply, a year later, verbatim:

“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 Beyoncé, for example. Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you’re talking. I really think he is black.”

This emerging "conflict," as Mr Belafonte said in a recent interview with MSNBC, wasn't a direct attack on Jay-Z and Beyonce. He was at a press conference in Switzerland, and the press who were present, asked him about the level of activism, political/social engagement of artists today, compared to artists of his (Belafonte's) time, decades ago. And he made the observation that the power that lies in the collective black celebrity voice (with so many influential black celebrities today), was sadly not being utilized and exploited in bringing attention to matters that ail our community, as well as in acting decisively, communally against those injustices - certainly not the way his generation used their celebrity for social/political/economic activism, and did so absolutely.

And in response to what was essentially a call to action by Mr Belafonte, a number of other black artists, like Jamie Foxx, Chuck D, and others, took his words in the spirit in which they were delivered, and have since gotten behind him on his various recent efforts to affect real change, hands-on, unlike Mr Jay-Z here, who instead responds with insolence. And I'm not referring solely to the fatuity in the above quote; in a track called Nickles And Dimes on his new Magna Carta Holy Grail album, he reserved the following lyrics in response to Belafonte: 

Mr. Day O, major fail;

Respect these youngins boy, it's my time now

My suggestion to Jay-Z, no matter how relevant he might be, or believes he is, and the amount of money he's reportedly given to charity, would be, simply: you can't fight them all, so choose your battles wisely. And this is not one that I'd choose to fight - certainly not publicly, and definitely not in the manner and tone that he's chosen to go about it.

"My presence is charity." Really. And then you refer to him as "boy" on one of your tracks - something that's going to be listened to, and repeated by likely many millions of your young fans?

Come on son! This certainly isn't the way to win any votes in your favor. This isn't a rap battle! Belafonte isn't going to now rush into a recording studio, to put together a diss track in response to your diss

Or maybe you just don't care.

Man-up!

Check your ego Hov. Swallow your pride. Respect these old folks, BOY. 'Cause, without THEIR time, your "time now" may never have been realized.

Alright, so I'm no rapper, but you get the point!

And in response to Jay-Z's cry (yes, cry), Belafonte had this to say:

“I would hope with all my heart, that Jay Z not take personally what was said... I would like to take this opportunity to say to Jay Z and Beyonce: I’m wide open, my heart is filled with nothing but hope and the promise that we can sit and have a one-on-one to understand each other.”

After all, it's not like they've never met, and conversed. The above photo of both men was taken in 2010, two years before Belafonte's observation and call to action that started this so-called "conflict."

And with that, I say goodbye...

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123 Comments

  • braulio | July 23, 2014 2:56 PMReply

    WELL WRITTEN....

  • braulio | July 23, 2014 2:56 PMReply

    WELL WRITTEN....

  • Steve | April 5, 2014 10:18 PMReply

    what did Jay-Z say about Obama, "whether he does anything, the hope he provides for America and outside America is enough"then he goes on to say that just because he's the first black president he should be able to speak on any issue about anything and be left alone. In other words, I'm a complete and total racist who believes that Obama should be able to do anything and everything he wants just because he's black. And folks, that is the very view from all blacks in America and the very ignorance that got him elected..skin color..forget all the lies..it doesn't matter because he's black..forget Benghazi..it doesn't matter because he's black..just pitiful!

  • Steve | April 5, 2014 10:18 PMReply

    what did Jay-Z say about Obama, "whether he does anything, the hope he provides for America and outside America is enough"then he goes on to say that just because he's the first black president he should be able to speak on any issue about anything and be left alone. In other words, I'm a complete and total racist who believes that Obama should be able to do anything and everything he wants just because he's black. And folks, that is the very view from all blacks in America and the very ignorance that got him elected..skin color..forget all the lies..it doesn't matter because he's black..forget Benghazi..it doesn't matter because he's black..just pitiful!

  • Micheal Phanor | May 7, 2014 11:00 AM

    You small minded fool how do you know every Black American in america feels that way about Obama i don't , SMH get your knowledge up read a book before you judge its cover you fool, the future of the world is mixed race.. all that white being white and blacks being blacks Chinese being Chinese spanish being spanish indian being indian arab being arab segregation shit will soon be dead just like racism is dying in the new generation but for some old folks its hard for them to let go i.e. (example) Donald Sterling if u are like him on you there is Gods Punishment (Karma) i salute all the people that don't see color

  • Steve | April 5, 2014 10:18 PMReply

    what did Jay-Z say about Obama, "whether he does anything, the hope he provides for America and outside America is enough"then he goes on to say that just because he's the first black president he should be able to speak on any issue about anything and be left alone. In other words, I'm a complete and total racist who believes that Obama should be able to do anything and everything he wants just because he's black. And folks, that is the very view from all blacks in America and the very ignorance that got him elected..skin color..forget all the lies..it doesn't matter because he's black..forget Benghazi..it doesn't matter because he's black..just pitiful!

  • Steve | April 5, 2014 10:18 PMReply

    what did Jay-Z say about Obama, "whether he does anything, the hope he provides for America and outside America is enough"then he goes on to say that just because he's the first black president he should be able to speak on any issue about anything and be left alone. In other words, I'm a complete and total racist who believes that Obama should be able to do anything and everything he wants just because he's black. And folks, that is the very view from all blacks in America and the very ignorance that got him elected..skin color..forget all the lies..it doesn't matter because he's black..forget Benghazi..it doesn't matter because he's black..just pitiful!

  • Steve | April 5, 2014 10:18 PMReply

    what did Jay-Z say about Obama, "whether he does anything, the hope he provides for America and outside America is enough"then he goes on to say that just because he's the first black president he should be able to speak on any issue about anything and be left alone. In other words, I'm a complete and total racist who believes that Obama should be able to do anything and everything he wants just because he's black. And folks, that is the very view from all blacks in America and the very ignorance that got him elected..skin color..forget all the lies..it doesn't matter because he's black..forget Benghazi..it doesn't matter because he's black..just pitiful!

  • Steve | April 5, 2014 10:17 PMReply

    what did Jay-Z say about Obama, "whether he does anything, the hope he provides for America and outside America is enough"then he goes on to say that just because he's the first black president he should be able to speak on any issue about anything and be left alone. In other words, I'm a complete and total racist who believes that Obama should be able to do anything and everything he wants just because he's black. And folks, that is the very view from all blacks in America and the very ignorance that got him elected..skin color..forget all the lies..it doesn't matter because he's black..forget Benghazi..it doesn't matter because he's black..just pitiful!

  • Steve | April 5, 2014 10:17 PMReply

    what did Jay-Z say about Obama, "whether he does anything, the hope he provides for America and outside America is enough"then he goes on to say that just because he's the first black president he should be able to speak on any issue about anything and be left alone. In other words, I'm a complete and total racist who believes that Obama should be able to do anything and everything he wants just because he's black. And folks, that is the very view from all blacks in America and the very ignorance that got him elected..skin color..forget all the lies..it doesn't matter because he's black..forget Benghazi..it doesn't matter because he's black..just pitiful!

  • Steve | April 5, 2014 10:17 PMReply

    what did Jay-Z say about Obama, "whether he does anything, the hope he provides for America and outside America is enough"then he goes on to say that just because he's the first black president he should be able to speak on any issue about anything and be left alone. In other words, I'm a complete and total racist who believes that Obama should be able to do anything and everything he wants just because he's black. And folks, that is the very view from all blacks in America and the very ignorance that got him elected..skin color..forget all the lies..it doesn't matter because he's black..forget Benghazi..it doesn't matter because he's black..just pitiful!

  • Steve | April 5, 2014 10:17 PMReply

    what did Jay-Z say about Obama, "whether he does anything, the hope he provides for America and outside America is enough"then he goes on to say that just because he's the first black president he should be able to speak on any issue about anything and be left alone. In other words, I'm a complete and total racist who believes that Obama should be able to do anything and everything he wants just because he's black. And folks, that is the very view from all blacks in America and the very ignorance that got him elected..skin color..forget all the lies..it doesn't matter because he's black..forget Benghazi..it doesn't matter because he's black..just pitiful!

  • Steve | April 5, 2014 10:16 PMReply

    what did Jay-Z say about Obama, "whether he does anything, the hope he provides for America and outside America is enough"then he goes on to say that just because he's the first black president he should be able to speak on any issue about anything and be left alone. In other words, I'm a complete and total racist who believes that Obama should be able to do anything and everything he wants just because he's black. And folks, that is the very view from all blacks in America and the very ignorance that got him elected..skin color..forget all the lies..it doesn't matter because he's black..forget Benghazi..it doesn't matter because he's black..just pitiful!

  • Steve | April 5, 2014 10:16 PMReply

    what did Jay-Z say about Obama, "whether he does anything, the hope he provides for America and outside America is enough"then he goes on to say that just because he's the first black president he should be able to speak on any issue about anything and be left alone. In other words, I'm a complete and total racist who believes that Obama should be able to do anything and everything he wants just because he's black. And folks, that is the very view from all blacks in America and the very ignorance that got him elected..skin color..forget all the lies..it doesn't matter because he's black..forget Benghazi..it doesn't matter because he's black..just pitiful!

  • Steve | April 5, 2014 10:15 PMReply

    what did Jay-Z say about Obama, "whether he does anything, the hope he provides for America and outside America is enough"then he goes on to say that just because he's the first black president he should be able to speak on any issue about anything and be left alone. In other words, I'm a complete and total racist who believes that Obama should be able to do anything and everything he wants just because he's black. And folks, that is the very view from all blacks in America and the very ignorance that got him elected..skin color..forget all the lies..it doesn't matter because he's black..forget Benghazi..it doesn't matter because he's black..just pitiful!

  • Kwilly | April 1, 2014 2:00 AMReply

    Jay Z and his wife care nothing about the community, nor about people. He is like he says he is, a business man. Only fools buy their albums, and of course the lyrics are all the same. On every track, he brags about getting unintelligent people to buy his album and getting super rich because of it. But hey, I guess they are the real ghetto king and queen.

  • John | March 1, 2014 8:50 AMReply

    Many of these celebrities in the entertainment industry are hypocrites because many are left-wing yet act greedy and stuck up.

    Money changes people.

  • John | March 1, 2014 8:49 AMReply

    Many of these celebrities in the entertainment industry are hypocrites because many are left-wing yet act greedy and stuck up.

    Money changes people.

  • sjaen95 | February 7, 2014 12:12 AMReply

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  • Ian | January 28, 2014 11:21 PMReply

    He's sounds a little too indifferent. Maybe that's his personality. Beyonce and he probably go together well. I remember seeing Beyonce on Punked and some girl was crushed by a christmas tree (it was fake of couse) and she just kind looked down like, wow that really sucks for you. I hope someone comes to help.

  • kat | December 15, 2013 9:22 AMReply

    "I’m offended by that because first of all, and this is going to sound arrogant, but my presence is charity."
    Way to go! This just reinforces my bodies incredible urge to puke every time I see you or your wife. Ive said for years that the no one will ever love them as much as they love themselves.....
    By all means people go buy more terrible music from them and send more money to them....

  • truth | December 8, 2013 6:33 PMReply

    Your stupid as shit ergo we ignore you.

  • Tamrika | November 8, 2013 1:55 PMReply

    This is really sad. Man up, Grow up! You are not what you think you are in your head to many, many people. Do your part. Stop the hate and separation of human beings.

  • Tamrika | November 8, 2013 1:55 PMReply

    This is really sad. Man up, Grow up! You are not what you think you are in your head to many, many people. Do your part. Stop the hate and separation of human beings.

  • jeanettesdaughter | August 10, 2013 7:37 PMReply

    gag. seriously? his presence.

  • Phil | August 1, 2013 12:46 AMReply

    This is a really interesting generational conflict. Kind of reminds me of Jesse Jackson vs Obama back in 2007-2008. Let me say that Mr. Belafonte is a personal hero and he, along with Bill Cosby, gets a pass to say whatever he wishes regardless of how abrasive it may be.

    I listened to the Jay Z song, Nickels and Dimes, and in it he speaks of anonymous donations and the proverbial 'teach a man how to fish' type of assistance. In the end, I think this is much ado about nothing. In the 60s, we needed the Belafontes to fight for our civil rights. In the 2010s, we need the Jay Zs to tell us to stand on our feet and compete with the rest of the word. I hope both men will hash it out over a beer and shake hands.

    I always find the comments the most interesting part of any article I read. I guess one never really knows who is behind the posts but it frightens me to think that there are those among us who believe we are unable to accomplish anything on our own or without being handpicked by those in power.

  • MIZZ | July 30, 2013 8:03 AMReply

    They both used horrible, despicable judgment. They both have done incredible things for american black people both directly and indirectly. Every American black person can do more to increase our collective righteousness, consciousness, morals, respect, dignity, LEGAL hustle, and intellect.

  • MrEFilms | July 29, 2013 5:44 PMReply

    I wish people would do there research before you opening your mouths. Mr. Carter has been doing just that. When Katrina hit Jay sent trucks with food, clothes,shoes and clothes to New Orleans. And brought the issue to the for front with a video. Jay when to Africa and made sure African village had running clean water himself. And countless other charites he has give too and made effort to give without getting credit, award, or recognition for doing it. I give Mr Belafonte a pass for his 2pac moment.

  • disgusted | October 26, 2013 12:06 AM

    Jay-Z is a negative force to the black community like countless other rappers. Their doctrine is one self centered arrogance, violence and misogyny. His charitable gestures to the Katrina victims pales in comparison to a decade-plus long career of propagating negative values to the black community. He would be delusional to think that he is comparable to Mr. Belafonte as humanitarian and activist, he is also no Obama. He is a symbol of a kind of modern black social illiteracy and money and financial success does not diminish that fact.

  • CareyCarey | July 29, 2013 3:05 PMReply

    "Mr. Belafonte is not winning anyone over with his attitude. We can feign shock and awe all we want. But no grown man is going to bow down to Belafonte's insults" ~ Rocket

    HELLO! I could start there but I defer my opening thoughts to Tambay who said "some would argue that maybe Harry Belafonte could have handled his public challenge to Jay-Z and Beyonce differently... but... I'm willing to give him a pass"

    Oh my, a pass... for what? Well, I believe, like many others in this thread, that Mr. Belafonta is not without fault. And, I've found a silver lining in this debate which many have poo-pooed.

    "Most of you need to realize that a lot of the younger generation know NOTHING about Belafonte, which makes him irrelevant to someone like myself."

    Ut oh, I believe that's a fact which deserves a deeper consideration than what I've witnessed (from the comments below ). Well, some would blame those words on "ignorance", but I am reminded of a few lines from the song "I Can't Make You Love Me" here-> "don't patronize me

    Cause I can't make you love me if you don't
    You can't make your heart feel something it won't.

    That right, it's not ignorance's fault that this generation has little or no connection to Harry Belafonte. It's just a fact. Therefore, I believe it's unwise to force said generation to love him. On the other hand, Jay-Z fits right in their groove zone. Granted, we can parade out a list of things (his alleged indiscretions) that we wouldn't want our children to emulate, but the fact is, as Anonymous pointed out, he is a beacon of light to many. Consequently, it's safe to say he has inspired more of today's youth, in a positive way, than Mr Belafonte has. As I love saying, the devil is always in the details. Look there and y'll find them fair.

    That right's, I am suggesting Jay-Z IS a name of real importance and influence. We can agree or disagree with his choice of words and how he donates his time and money, but that is no reason to impugn his "charity" or marginalize his significance in this thang called the black experience.

    "I respect Harry as a trailblazer for civil rights. But his challenge also contained wording that could be taken as an insult, and that's probably what Jay Z responded to"

    YEP!

    "Most of you obviously haven't heard all of Jay Z's work, therefore are judging him off of his hit singles or a stupid article like this. Do your homework before you come out and comment like you know what's going on. His presence IS charity to the younger generation."

    YEP... excellent point!

    "Mr. Belafonte should have chosen his words wisely, calling out Jay-Z & Bey in public because they're not taking on the responsibilities (black people problems) he believes they should is a cowards move. Pick up a phone, set up a meeting, come together as one. Mr. Bel's way only divides blacks even more."

    HELLO! Talk about it, say what's real.

    "This time he responded after being asks about it and now some folk are butt hurt. Like he was suppose to say 'thank you sir' for the insult. Pure stupidity" ~ GARY S

    That makes sense to me. And, the commenter FieldNegro may have brought it home:

    "Belafonte's grand children may have 99 problems but being black ain't gonna be one of them, so I suggest he stop worrying about black people. He talked about it but hates being it. Thats hypocrisy. At least Jay-Z and co insist on their Blackness."

    But you know what, that reminds me, why do we give so much power and respect to entertainers? Hell, here we are at a film blog discussing a rapper and a what? I mean, even if the subjects were filmmakers, why do we give so much credence and attention to those who have chosen that path as a means of earning a living? Surely we can agree that the most intelligent, wise and deepest critical thinkers do not chose filmmaker as a career path. Yet, we put them in the most unenviable positions of speaking on serious subjects other than films. Over and over again, we hang on the words of actors, musicians and entertainers alike, expecting words of wisdom that we can take to the bank. Damn, something is definitely wrong with that 'cause as I implied, they're just entertainers, not Socrates, Epicurus, nor brain surgeons.

  • JTC | July 29, 2013 2:01 PMReply

    I grew up in the age when HIP HOP went pop and gave birth to rap music. COMMON immortalized the moment in his classic song, "I USED TO LOVE HER." I can lament the past with the best of them but for what purpose? I image that we sound to younger cats like our parents sounded to us. The problem is deeper and more direct.

    I spent several years working with at risk youth. One day this young brother comes up to me looking distraught. I asked him what was wrong. He confided to me that he shot someone. He told me that he had the realization that he was a bitch because he could not stop seeing the person's face. I told him that nearly everyone who commits a horrible act goes through a similar process. He struggled to believe, it was only my relationship with him which opened him up to the possibility.

    I lived for several years in the BAY AREA. I was working on a film (during the day) and I see these girls dressed suggestively. I realized that the girls were young. Expensive cars would come up and the girls would drive away in them. Down the street, I saw a group of young brothers dressed up in the kind of gear that was considered FLY in Oakland. I was told that they were the pimps. When I told people what was happened, they already knew. They were completely desensitized. Many people were admiring of the pimps.

    The reasons of how these events happened are numerous but the thread uniting them is rap. Rappers who celebrate pimping in their songs, but who fail to tell the part of the story of how pimps kidnap women, forcibly hook them on drugs, threaten to hurt them and/or their families if they don't comply. Rappers who speak about violence, but not about the post traumatic stress disorder which follows, or the endless nightmares, or the self loathing, or the permanent anxiety. I have no problem with rap being the CNN of the street when that depiction is accurate but with few exceptions, we all know this is not the case.

    Unfortunately, when the songs of individuals such as JAY-Z, 50, and others has been the soundtrack to your life, it is hard to look at them objectively (particularly, when you feel the sense of power you get when listening to these kinds of songs) But this being a site about film and television, it should obvious that the rappers don't have strength to do this work. As filmmakers, we have to be the ones to show our community and our world a deeper truth about what the depth of our stories is really about.

  • John | March 1, 2014 9:29 AM

    You don't need any facts to know that gangster rap and movies do inspire some negative behavior. Look at all these drug dealers who love Scarface wearing Scarface T-shirts or have a Scarface poster hanging on the wall in there house. I have the Scarface DVD and on it there is some bonus commentary they interview some DEA agents and one of the agents said it's not uncommon for there to be a Scarface poster in the drug houses we raid. And then all these drug dealers also love listening to gangster rap which glorifies the gang banging life they are trying to live.

  • CC | July 31, 2013 1:55 PM

    JTC,

    You're working me this morning but I love it. Listen, first, be rest assured that I've felt no hostilities in your voice (comments)... and I hope none is taken in mine. As I said, I am enjoying our conversation.

    So lets see what we're working with. I think I should begin by framing or roping in our conversation. I believe there are four basic issues on the table.

    1. Entertainers (Rappers, Singers, Directors, Actors, Writers/Authors, Filmmakers, etc,) and their "alleged" responsibilities.

    2. What should they and/or could they do in the development of our society?

    3. What has been the affects on our society from the products produced by the aforementioned?

    4. What source of information; data, facts, opinions, etc, did we use, or are using to reach our conclusions?

    Now I will state my position.

    I am not of the belief the Rap Music nor movies play a significant role in the development of our thought process and the actions those thoughts inspire. I've come to that conclusion based on the simple fact that there's absolutely no data nor facts to suggest otherwise. More importantly, on the other hand, when one considers all the stimuli/information a person is subjected to and processes on a daily basis (hundreds), it goes without question that a rap song and/or a movie is but a minuscule part of that equation. Granted, as with your example of "getting hype" before undertaking a task of any nature, music of any kind can set a mental "tone", however, said tone/hype feeling is/was (I have to reinterate) was NOT the source of the problem. Besides, it should be noted, as many have suggested, that Rap's lyrics have good and bad messages. Consequently, to imply, or infer, or suggest in any way that rap music is the "problem" (a scourge if you will), relegating past experiences and past behavior and other dreadful stimuli to "lessor than" positions, is not rooted in solid fundamental thinking... and is possibly an act of moving the goal posts and muddling the playing field.

    That said, for the most part, entertainers have a responsibility to do that which their craft specifies. Entertain: 1. to hold the attention of with something amusing or diverting. 2) Provide (someone) with amusement or enjoyment.

    To that point, I'll repeat what I said in another comment: [Why do we expect so much from entertainers?]

    Why do we give so much power, respect and attention to entertainers? Hell, here we are at a film blog discussing a rapper and a what? I mean, can we get right down to a basic fact... which some may not want to accept? Surely we can agree that the most intelligent, wise and deepest critical thinkers do not chose film-making, acting, rapping, singing and dancing as a career paths. Come on now, I know that's a hard pill for some to swallow (especially at this blog) but I can't think of many Rhodes Scholars or Physicists or those with above average IQs, turned actors or film directors or singers or rappers. Nope, the most intelligent minds do not chose those careers. Yet, we put our entertainers in the most unenviable positions of speaking on issues other than their specialties. Over and over again, we hang on the words of actors, musicians and entertainers alike, expecting great words of wisdom. That's a fool's errand, isn't it? If not foolish behavior, there is something fundamentally wrong with that, 'cause as I implied, they're just entertainers, not Socrates, Epicurus, nor brain surgeons.

    In reference to doing "more", first, I have to ask, why do we expect "them" or anyone to give their money away? Anyway, you asked what I meant by... "asking entertainers for "more" is an ambiguous and slippery slope. More than what and why them?"

    Okay, it was ambiguous in the sense that the word "more" is comparative. Therefore it's vague when not followed by a specific quantity, amount, measure, degree, or number . Thus, I asked "more than what?". The second part of my question simply asked why should the people in question give "more" than anyone else? And again, more money, more love, more advice, more wisdom, more lip service, more what? So I hope you can see that ambiguity presents a slippery slope?

    In short, I believe in the sayings "let your conscience be your guide" and "don't live another man's dream" and "It's yo thang, do what you wanna do, I can't tell you who to give your thangs to".

  • JTC | July 31, 2013 3:52 AM

    CC

    Let me also say that I am interested in hearing in more detail what you think about the role our entertainers and other people of influence should be in helping to solve our problems if any? The reason why I hesitated to be specific in regards to what they might be able to do is because there are so many different things they could potentially do.

    Through my years, I had the opportunity to live with a Chinese family next to Oakland's Chinatown as well as in a Mexican and El Salvadorian community in North Hollywood. In these communities, both of which I lived in for years, I was told that it was a part of the expectation of the people that individuals (including entertainers/athletes and the like) who did well would bring something tangible and powerful back to their community. These were not perfect communities by any means, yet this expectation was strongly rooted. So when you wrote, "In short, asking entertainers for "more" is an ambiguous and slippery slope. More than what and why them?" I am not sure where you are coming from. Without even a sliver of hostility, break this down for me bra.

    For me, a part of the reason that I hope to be a successful filmmaker and producer is because I look forward to being able to give back, not only to filmmakers, actors, and other creatives in our communities, but in other ways as well. I hope this doesn't sound all new age-y or anything like that but this has been my passion before I ever realized that making was even a possibility for me. This was how I was raised.

  • JTC | July 31, 2013 3:28 AM

    CC and ROCKET

    I understand where you guys are coming from. There is no doubt that there are variety of sources for the problems within our community both from within (fatherless children, broken families, and the consequences of self hate) and from without (institutionalized racism, the general increasing social inequality in America, the legacy of systematic oppression.) Indeed, it can be hard to deconstruct the ways in which either side of that coin falls in any particular group of people. Those are, generally speaking, the fundamental issues of the African American community.

    When I suggested that the thread which unites them is rap, I wasn't as clear I wanted to be. As a dedicated student of history, there is no doubt that the problems which plague our community have their base in issues that come from further back in history. Although I don't see rap as the SOURCE of the problem, I certainly am of the opinion that it is a part of the problem.

    For my story, over the last 20 years I have personally lived and have worked in communities as diverse as Columbus, Ohio; Oakland; Los Angeles; Houston; and New Orleans; and as I worked and talked with many people in these cities who had experiences similar to my own. I, however, have no reason to doubt your experiences and honestly, I never went about the process of taking a poll of the individuals I worked with to see if all of their stories were the same. As a lover of HIP HOP (graffiti, djing, mcing, and bboying), I have been a person who has tried to defend HIP HOP from a world which tried to dismiss it.

    What struck me was that there were a considerable number of individuals (by no means all) who suggested to me that, for example, the moment during which they were about to undertake a violent action, they used a cocktail of drugs and rap to help hype themselves up in their effort to cross that line. I also heard similar things from my peers even friends I had who had left the game. And although I would not consider a gangster in any way, without going into detail, I got myself involved in some actions in which I was coached along with my friends to use rap as well as some other tools to do something I am not proud of (I have working to make a film about this incident for years.)

    I have no reason to believe that they were trying to fool me. And none of these individuals put the blame on rap exclusively, they simply relayed the notion that rap was a part of the problem. When I say the uniting thread is rap, I meant to say that this was something I heard from pimps, thieves, drug dealers, and individuals who participated in crimes across the spectrum.

    To my point about "artists and intellectuals", what I was trying to say that across time these groups have always had power. During a documentary, I made about African American elders, I was honored to interview the great writer Ishmael Reed who told me that a culture can be no healthier than its stories, basically that storytellers of all types could help reframe how we see the issues, give us the capacity to see the problem, and help to envision what a world would look like if things are different.

  • CareyCarey | July 30, 2013 4:39 AM

    JTC, as Paul Harvey was noted for saying "and now the rest of the story".

    I can't speak for Rocket but I believe he is simply saying the precursor for the "missteps" your highlighted; violence, drug abuse, pimping, etc, was not rap music.

    Now, to some degree our lives, yours and mine, have taken similar paths. I too have worked with those in drug & alcohol abuse facilities and halfway houses. Men and women, young and old, I've been in the company of thousands. I don't know how you arrived at that position, but I started at ground zero. In other words, I lived the life before I turned the corner.

    I was able to relate to clients and they to me because as I said, I walked in their shoes. So let me tell a little of the rest of my story, and then we'll see how it relates to the discussion at hand. But first, in reference to "winning groups" getting rid of "intellectuals and artist", it should be noted that the targeted individuals had the ear of groups with a significant power base and meaningful influence over those who could actually forge a united front, and solicit help from others outside their region, not uneducated fatherless black youth. But I agree, there is power in words. So let me address the points of contention between you and Rocket.

    "The reasons of how these events happened are numerous but the thread uniting them is rap"

    Well, I have to side with Rocket's position because as you said, "the reasons of how these events happened are numerous" but I do not believe there's a common thread other than what Rocket suggested.

    Now, the rest of my story:

    I am not going to tell all my business, but I've been around "prostitutes" of which some call hoes. And, I've "handled" drugs on many levels, and death has visited my home for reasons closely associated to the above activities. So again, I am talking from experience. None of the people I was associated with then (hoes, pimps, drug dealers, users, those prone to violence, thieves, co*ksuckers and mfers) nor those I counselled after I turned my corner, spoke of rap music as having a major impact on their lives.

    However, it goes without question that the seeds of immaturity, violence, low self respect, low self-esteem. intolerance for the rights of others, lawlessness, domestic abuse, materialism, racism and reaching for a substance to ease ones pain, by and large are planted in the home.

    Now, in reference to pimping women, the rest of the story says many women in that game are not forced to be there. However, as Rocket and I are suggesting, their demons (the forces that compelled them to do what they do) are likely related to something that started way before they were even of an age to sell their bodies. In fact (again speaking from experience) I never had to convince and/or persuade anyone to use drugs, nor did I ever have to force anyone to do what they had to do to make themselves feel satisfied. Granted, there are many who were "blindsided" but that's not the whole story.

    In short, asking entertainers for "more" is an ambiguous and slippery slope. More than what and why them? Also, I believe it's somewhat short-sighted to assess "blame" as you've suggested in your comment. Furthermore, your opinion is a common opinion that's frequently used to shift responsibility and appease the souls of those who are apposed to rap music. That's right, RAP MUSIC DONE IT! :-)

  • JTC | July 29, 2013 10:24 PM

    There is a reason why history tells us that nearly all cultures during times in which power shift from group to another that the "winning" group feels the need to "get rid" of the artists and the intellectuals before they do anything else. It was because they knew the power that these groups of people have always had within the cultures. Can you feel me on at least that much?

    I started MCING at age nine and didn't stop for another 30 years. In some ways, I have never stopped and will always hear a dope beat and find myself spitting out some lyrics to myself if no one else. So I am particularly conscious of the fact that rap music (HIP HOP is something different) did not create any the problems we deal with in our community today. You are spot on in regards to that. When you say that it is a channel to express and display it, there is a depth in what you're saying there.

    But as you copy and pasted from my post, I noticed that you didn't mention my work with that young man. What were your thoughts about that? Furthermore, in addition to growing on the block, I worked as a drug and alcohol counselor for 5 and half years and at a halfway house program for another 3. I have listened directly to men and women tell me how they themselves felt that listening to the negative messages in the music helped them to suppress their humanity for long enough to commit acts heinous that it would be impolite to discuss them here. Many of these gangsters were molested as boys and experienced a variety of traumas. I'm sorry but I have listened to a lot of rappers including the ones I have been critical of and have rarely heard that story. If you have I would be interested in knowing who.

    It does not seem reasonable however, to suggest that the calls to ask people from our community to do more ring hollow. If rap is a channel to express and display people's dysfunction can it not also be a channel reveal and heal it? And that said, could it not be argued that insofar as there are so many broken families and fatherless homes (and brother I am the product of one myself) that our people could use all the help they can get? Is it wrong for them to ask? REALLY? Individuals such as JAY-Z are relevant in part because they are from our communities. JAY-Z is still that brother from MARCY. I have no idea what he is doing but why can't he be asked to do more, because sure as hell someone did for us to even be able to have this dialogue right now.

  • Rocket | July 29, 2013 7:49 PM

    "The reasons of how these events happened are numerous but the thread uniting them is rap."

    No, the thread uniting them is fatherless homes and broken families. And you can throw in poverty for good measure. Hip Hop didn't create pimps. Brothers were pimping and shooting one another long before Hip Hop became Rap. Rap is an easy cop out. Rap culture is not the cause of people's dysfunction. It is simply a channel to express and display it.

    That is one of the reasons that calls for celebrities to do more rang hollow. The problem is at the root in the communities. It is in the homes.

  • Rocket | July 29, 2013 1:37 PMReply

    Mr. Belafonte is not winning anyone over with his attitude. We can feign shock and awe all we want. But no grown man is going to bow down to Belafonte's insults. Belafonte knows better. If we are going to hold Jay Z to a higher standard than normal due to his money then lets be consistent. Let's hold Mr. Belafonte to a higher standard due to his age the degree of respect people say he deserves.

    Yes, Jay Z made some dumb comments about himself. Still Mr. Belafonte got what he really wanted out of all this: Attention.

  • Anonymous to Anonymous | July 29, 2013 10:29 AMReply

    Most of you need to realize that a lot of the younger generation know NOTHING about Belafonte, which makes him irrelevant to someone like myself. We look up to people like Jay Z because he someone that showed and proved that he made it out, with the most "class" a RAPPER could. Most of you obviously haven't heard all of Jay Z's work, therefore are judging him off of his hit singles or a stupid article like this. Do your homework before you come out and comment like you know what's going on. His presence IS charity to the younger generation. He is a 43 year old black man that went from rags to riches. He is successful music business man. Why does he need to make a list of where he donated his money? It will always be a lose-lose for him because if he told you what he has done, you'd just say "oh...now he's just bragging". Most of these journalists have nothing better to do, but to chose sides and make money off of it. They get you to spread hate towards everything. People need to stop hating.

  • Mark & Darla | July 29, 2013 9:36 PM

    @anonymous to anonymous

    You need to step back from the breakfast table and stop eating trick or for kids, you silly rabbit cereal.

  • SMH | July 29, 2013 2:49 PM

    "hating" please define what "hating" means. I don't think anyone is hating, we are just saying Jay-Z and other top African American athletes and celebrities can do better. Celebrities these days are like politicians, they wont take a stance on an issue until the stance they want to take is popular one. Everyone wants to support gay rights now that is "cool" where was that stance a year ago. I respect Jay-Z for what he has accomplished but he can do better, he isn't in Marcy anymore so he is detached from whats going on there and in every "ghetto" in America. Give kids something more to aspire to, give them a hope to be better than Jay-Z. Tell kids not to be like himself or Lebron, teach them there is more. Teach them they can be the owner of the team, the manager, the physical therapist etc. Teach education; humility and self-worth instead of promoting Tom Ford and materialism. Stop perpetuating the cycle of ignorance; I have a Benz and rock Tom Ford but I pay rent instead of owning my home.

  • Qstorm | July 29, 2013 1:21 PM

    Wow. The younger generation truly does revel in ignorance. Jay-Z's presence may be charity (which I would VEHEMENTLY debate), but Belafonte is INSPIRING given the obstacles HE had to overcome. Some young people don't seem to understand the importance of history and holding our icons up as role models.

  • Daryl | July 29, 2013 1:00 PM

    Yeah Jay - Z made it out selling drugs to his own people then brag about it on record and got rich, he a role model because he got rich, Gtfofh with that nonsense and before you say he raps about other stuff what is the first thing that comes to mind with Jay - Z, he's a hustler, he says himself all the time, people don't think about himsaying something real in his music every now and then because that gets drown by the corporate image of being a hustler. Why you do you think corporations celebrate his success to get the rest of ya'll to follow in his footstep except it won't have a happy ending with a pot of gold at the end but misery that keeps the cycle going of black people being an underclass in this country. If Jay- z was serious about helping black people he wouldn't be surround by white folks with a couple black people here and there when he do business.

  • jia | July 29, 2013 12:08 PM

    You cannot say Harry Belafonte is irrelevant because you belong to a younger generation. You are simply ignorant and must seek education really fast. Demand the right to education because everyone has a right to it. You are from today's generation where people see celebrities like Rihanna, Jay, Gaga, and Beyonce as immortal and seek attention on social networks. I blame some parents for leaving their parenting duties to Evelyn Lozada and other celebrities on TV. I also blame schools for not emphasizing on social activism, history, etc to these children. Everything about schools is a business and children do not seem to learn anything. It is embarrassing.

  • 90056 | July 29, 2013 11:55 AM

    " a lot of the younger generation know NOTHING about Belafonte, which makes him irrelevant to someone like myself..."

    Don't celebrate your ignorance. Work on it. Just because you know nothing about something, does not mean it is irrelevant. There is more to learn, but if your thirst for knowledge is shallow, then so is your argument.

    Read about people, places, and things before the Life and Times of Shawn Carter.

  • ALM | July 29, 2013 11:26 AM

    I’m young. You need to realize that your ignorance of Mr. Belafonte does not make him irrelevant. You are hilarious. Jay-z "showed and proved that he made it out". Where do you think MLK, Rosa Parks, Oprah, Harry Belafonte, etc. grew up? Windsor palace? Buckingham palace? All the people I listed (and thousands more) grew up with A LOT less than Jay-z did, and they still made it.

    People like to suspend reality. You act as if Jay-z is the first person of color to ever grow up in challenging circumstances and make it out. Also stop glossing over the fact that a the foundation of him "making it" was selling drugs to his own community. Other people have "made it" without harming other people.

    His presence IS NOT charity. He doesn’t need to make a list. His response to Mr. Belafonte says it all. Thanks for visiting the S & A site Kanye.

  • BluTopaz | July 29, 2013 11:26 AM

    "a lot of the younger generation know NOTHING about Belafonte, which makes him irrelevant to someone like myself"

    Just because you are of a different generation does not excuse ignorance. Belafonte is from a different generation than most of us (the man is in his 80's), but many of us still know of his cultural and social advocacy because 1) we are literate and choose to read about the civil rights issues Mr. Belafonte has involved himself with for decades before Jay Z thought about selling drugs and 2) we realize history did not start in the 1980's.

    But you continue worshipping celebs just because they made it out of the ghetto with the most "class" a rapper could.

  • Anonymous to Anonymous | July 29, 2013 10:28 AMReply

    Most of you need to realize that a lot of the younger generation know NOTHING about Belafonte, which makes him irrelevant to someone like myself. We look up to people like Jay Z because he someone that showed and proved that he made it out, with the most "class" a RAPPER could. Most of you obviously haven't heard all of Jay Z's work, therefore are judging him off of his hit singles or a stupid article like this. Do your homework before you come out and comment like you know what's going on. His presence IS charity to the younger generation. He is a 43 year old black man that went from rags to riches. He is successful music business man. Why does he need to make a list of where he donated his money? It will always be a lose-lose for him because if he told you what he has done, you'd just say "oh...now he's just bragging". Most of these journalists have nothing better to do, but to chose sides and make money off of it. They get you to spread hate towards everything. People need to stop hating.

  • Anonymous to Anonymous | July 29, 2013 10:28 AMReply

    Most of you need to realize that a lot of the younger generation know NOTHING about Belafonte, which makes him irrelevant to someone like myself. We look up to people like Jay Z because he someone that showed and proved that he made it out, with the most "class" a RAPPER could. Most of you obviously haven't heard all of Jay Z's work, therefore are judging him off of his hit singles or a stupid article like this. Do your homework before you come out and comment like you know what's going on. His presence IS charity to the younger generation. He is a 43 year old black man that went from rags to riches. He is successful music business man. Why does he need to make a list of where he donated his money? It will always be a lose-lose for him because if he told you what he has done, you'd just say "oh...now he's just bragging". Most of these journalists have nothing better to do, but to chose sides and make money off of it. They get you to spread hate towards everything. People need to stop hating.

  • Daryl | July 29, 2013 1:56 AMReply

    The Harry Belefonte and Jay - Z so called beef should be an eye opener to black folks on this new generation of black celebs. This is something I 've been saying for a minute up here these new generation of black celebs are selfish. Jay- Z presence is not charity, let's get real about this. I don't think young black kids should be looking at rappers and athletes as role models in a sense that this is going to be them, remember less than 1 percent are able to do this for a living, instead they should be looking at the college graduates and the small business owners in their community that made it as role models, there is more of a reality of attaining that type of success than being a rapper that strike it rich. Another point Jay-Z success has more of a negative affect on black youth than anything, for every one black youth that is inspire from his rags to riches story to do something constructive, it's a more than hundred that do something destructive, believing you got to be a hustler to make it or get your hustle on that end up in jail or dead, that's not charity that's a crisis. These corporations back people like Jay -Z instead of people like Chuck D because they want to make black folks a permanent underclass. Jay - Z puts on a charade that he helping an dhe dwon for black folks, get past the videos and look behind the curtains and see who respresents him nothing but white folks, the head of rock nation sports is a white woman but he trying to lift black folks up, Okay I will let Jay - Z defenders believe that because I know better. Also that samsung deal was not genius that deal was another case of giving hip hop away to corporations, what's next rappers albums getting released at mcdonalds. The samsung deal and the other deals that are going to come afterwards is about control because artist where gaining to much freedom through the internet and able to have a real voice with corporate interference. I hear people talking about Harry Belafonte messing with white women, how can he talk, he can talk because he been on the front lines for civil rights for black people for almost 50 years. He could have easily made more money if he had just shut his mouth and played the game but he understood this is not real success, it's the illusion of success that these corporations give to so many black celebs and the black audeince that is bigging them up because they got paid while in reality the masses of black folks are struggling or getting sterotype when they are sucecssful because of the images these black celbs keep going along with by these corporations.

  • Michelle | July 28, 2013 11:46 PMReply

    somebody need to boycott f%*king Jay Z and Beyonce, gimme a break. My presence is my charity!!!???How DISGUSTING and ridiculous. Need to stop spending our money making stupid people rich. Disrespectful ignoramus.

  • Danice | July 28, 2013 2:17 PMReply

    It's funny because we are arguing and Jay Z really said NOTHING if you asked me. It shows me he is NOT the brains behind his success. He makes no valid argument... "My presence should be a charity"?? WTF is a bunch of malarkey!

    You say Jay does NOT owe anyone anything then you're f*cking wrong! Jay Z is the one entering into the territory of BIG BUSINESS and POLITICS trying to connect with these people that are clearly out of reach to even have a decent convo (check Forbes mag... When Warren Buffet interviewed him .. He couldn't even answer questions no depth). I'm a fan of Jay but he had a part to which I am a fan of his OLD music this new I'm bigger than God music sucks. Jay Z is seen as the little nephew/niece (and his wife) that can dance in front the family and amuse you... That how these corporations view them ... I assure you they are not making made decisions.

    But anyway Belafonte Didnt have to reach out to have a convo... Who does that these days? Half of these celebrities are groupies of the people and places they brag about. The Obamas used Jay Z and Beyonce ... DUDE THEY DIDNT NEED YOU!

    But if you are trying to come into the political realm just have a better voice and better stance on your views because the response made sounded like a lil' B!tch crying that someone hurt their feelings.

    One of Tupac's lyrics - "Currency means NOTHING if you still ain't FREE!" They are just media slaves. If people wake up and stop feeding into the foolishness most artist push down your throat these days entertainment could get back to the basics and authenticity of the craft. Too many d!ck riders these days and I bet you all the money in the works while you going hard for these fools if you saw them out THEY WOULDN'T EVEN SPEAK TO YOU! Smdh...

  • BforReal (formerly Beezdablock) | July 28, 2013 10:02 PM

    Thank you! I agree with everything you wrote. I could only shake my head at Jay's comments. The nerve of these narcissistic celebrities like him - a generation of completely narcissistic fools, who are so used to people riding their dicks that they get confused and offended when someone finally calls them out on their bullsh*t. Smh. And some kids/teenager practically worship these morons. Thank goodness for those like Belafonte who are smart and know how to keep it real.

  • onyx | July 28, 2013 8:40 AMReply

    I truly, truly do not get why Harry Belafonte would phrase a call to action like that. in 1965, when he appeared as a guest on Petulia Clark's special (her hits include Downtown, Don't Sleep in the Subway Darling) all she did was reach over and touch the man, and not only did the NBC censors go wild, but some white people watching the show were offended. And by that time Belafonte was such a major star, that there was backlash against the backlash.

    But even then, the disrespect black men got made me appreciate how gracefully many handled slights.

    Imho both men are wrong. I respect Harry as a trailblazer for civil rights. But his challenge also contained wording that could be taken as an insult, and that's probably what Jay Z responded to. However, in reading Jay Z's response and then his lyrics, it appears this was his way of getting back at Belafonte. So sad. This is not just a generational gap, but a cultural one. The days of "listening to your elders" may be long past for some. But how those of us who wish to educate and invigorate the younger generation approach them with this task is also of vital importance.

  • @ ONYX | August 23, 2013 2:12 AM

    What's become of RESPECT? Respect of one's elders, in Jay-Z's case, anyway! Even if he felt slighted by Mr. Belafonte's remarks, his response was disrespectful, low-class and the height of hubris! Public disrespect of an elderly civil rights icon...not cool! While Mr. & Mrs. Carter have been amassing fame and fortune, apparently they haven't gained much class or any humility, along the way. They have so much power in their ability to reach people, and it must be wielded wisely!

    Mr. Belafonte specifically suggested that more highly visible personalities of this generation, lend their visibility to certain CAUSES, as people tend to follow WHATEVER they do (i.e. Beyonce's new haircut recently made headlines.) It's the actual CAUSES that should take center stage, not the celebrity spokesperson. Their job is to get the public involved and aware of issues. Our generation is sorely lacking in a sense unity and purpose. Also, old-fashioned manners and respect of others (which shows self-respect), has fallen by the wayside. Our instant communication devices keep us more disconnected from each other than ever. We find it too easy to tear others apart in 140 characters or less, and think nothing of it.

    Yes, Jay-Z is quite the philanthropist and expects no accolades for his good deeds. That's exactly as it should be! Also, it seems that Mr. & Mrs. Carter's activism button has been activated, as of late. They were quite visible along with Rev. Al Sharpton during rallies in Florida following the George Zimmerman verdict. As new parents, they said they were deeply troubled by the verdict and wanted to lend their support in a peaceful demonstration. There were no "photo ops", or anything. It seemed genuine and I'm sure their presence gave the crowd a feeling of comradrie and promoted calm.

  • Kym | July 28, 2013 12:49 PM

    Well said and I concur.

  • Kym | July 28, 2013 12:48 PM

    Well said and I concur.

  • likeness | July 28, 2013 8:21 AMReply

    Although I agree whole heartily with Mr. Belafonte, he should have chosen his words wisely, calling out Jay-Z & Bey in public because they're not taking on the responsibilities (black people problems) he believes they should is a cowards move. Pick up a phone, set up a meeting, come together as one. Mr. Bel's way only divides blacks even more.

  • B | July 28, 2013 8:19 AMReply

    What kind of arrogant person must you be to say "Just who I am is charity". Sorry, Jay many Black folks grew up without much and made something of themselves. You're not exceptional or special in that regard. Arrogance diminishes wisdom. It cripples the person to the point they can't hear the outside world. Who you THINK you are and how the world sees you are two different things. To say it's a "bit" of racism in America is to say I am completely removed from the reality of Black folks in America. This is no surprise because he also claimed that Hip Hop has done more for race relations than ANY Civil Rights person. He based this argument on white kids having posters of rappers on their wall, therefore they can't grow up racist. This is the man who does a PSA for Antisemitism, but dismisses racism as a minor inconvenience. His wife also ascribes to this backwards thinking. She said people don't see her as Black " I don’t think people think about my race.I think they look at me as an entertainer and a musician". I am always amazed how Black people get to "that" place. Jay Z & Beyonce live in NYC. They didn't see fit to raise the issue of Stop & Frisk. I guess that would be kind of awkward when you have no problem breaking bread with the man who is racially profiling Black men and said it should be done more. In his own city an unarmed Rahmarley Graham was shot and killed in his bathroom and Jay never says a word. This fraud has lulled himself into a false sense of competence. IMO, he and his wife should have been nowhere near any Trayvon's rally until both of them took a test in African American history. No I do not think their involvement was genuine.
    As Maya Angelou says, "When people show you who they are, believe them". The activist is not the person who identifies the problem, but the person who tries to fix it. So no Jay, your mere existence is not enough.

  • Bforreal | July 28, 2013 10:07 PM

    Amen. I, too, really wonder how black folks get to "that place" as you called it. But this is Jay and Beyonce: I'm not remotely surprised by either the arrogance or ignorance.

  • B | July 28, 2013 8:27 AM

    Oops wrong replay button :)
    Note.. In my comment I am addressing other things jay said in the interview on racism in America. He said "We all knew there was still a BIT of racism in America but for it to be so blatant" concerning the Zimmerman case.

  • FieldNegro | July 28, 2013 6:37 AMReply

    Belafonte's grand children may have 99 problems but being black ain't gonna be one of them so I suggest he stop worrying about black people. He talked about it but hates being it. Thats hypocrisy. At least Jay-Z and co insist on their Blackness.

  • B | July 28, 2013 8:26 AM

    Note.. In my comment I am addressing other things jay said in the interview on racism in America. He said "We all knew there was still a BIT of racism in America but for it to be so blatant" concerning the Zimmerman case.

  • Helluva | July 28, 2013 2:11 AMReply

    Dude said his "presence is charity." Think about that. The unbridled ego/arrogance to not only THINK IT but to go ahead and say it WITHOUT HESITATION. And you actually have fanboys/girls arguing his case as if Belafonte is nothing more than "Mr. Dayo." See, I don't have so much a problem with folks like Jay, actually. It's the STANs that piss me off 'cause he couldn't get away with ish like this if not for them. He had the audacity to tell Harry B., "you don't know what I do for the 'hood" on that track, which would seem like a virtue if he didn't spend most of his career (and his previous single in which he name dropped the Prez) BRAGGING about the crack he's FLOODED the 'hood with. So, oh mighty "Hov," it's okay to promote deviant, sub-human behavior like this but taboo to speak on the positive shit you've done for others? Yet, you're OFFENDED that you were negatively juxtaposed with activist-artist Bruce Springsteen? And your STANs chime in right on cue. Critical thinking is in short supply out here smh...

  • Bforreal | July 28, 2013 10:09 PM

    "See, I don't have so much a problem with folks like Jay, actually. It's the STANs that piss me off 'cause he couldn't get away with ish like this if not for them." Exactly!

  • artbizzy | July 27, 2013 6:27 PMReply

    This reminds me of the whole Bunny Wailer/Snoop Lion thing. Bunny Wailer and Harry Belafonte have always challenged and critiqued the machine through art and activism. Snoop Lion and Jay Z on the other hand made careers out of glorifying the machine and many of its pathologies. Their heroes are Don Corleone much more than they admire someone like Dr. King or even Malcolm x. Tupac, though conflicted, was definitely influenced by Malcolm X. Nas, too. These guys had perspectives and ideology that they grew up with. They read and studied. But the lure of socially irresponsible capitalism is seductive. It will not leave you alone once it takes hold of you and you are in a vulnerable state like poverty. A business man is about bidness. Most of the wealthiest of the wealthy know you can't put your emotions into business. You won't make much money. You won't own half the world. That's how and why many of our black asses are over here, remember? Our ancestors were merely part of the business plan. Whereas activism, whether organized or not, is a deeply emotional enterprise because it is essentially about caring about people on a much larger scale and fighting for them. Therefore a businessman like Jay Z can only care about certain issues up to a point or he stands to lose much capital. Jay Z is probably more than wealthy enough to leave corporate chains behind if he wants to, however.

  • Campbell | July 27, 2013 6:05 PMReply

    In my opinion, the biggest difference, is social and racial integration.

    The righteous civil rights struggle for integration, has advanced us to assimilate and succeed in main stream society, but has marginalized our communal voice.

    I applaud those who have the courage of their convictions. They understand an injustice to one, is an injustice to all.

    Unfortunately, the 21st century negro is a corporate slave. The more money they make, the less they speak out, or take a stand in anything. Oftentimes, they have lost a connection with their uneducated brethren, but lack the full acceptance of their corporate colleagues. Too scared to speak in either direction. Instead, they party to celebrate their "success", and collectively disdain the glass ceiling above their head, and broken stairs beneath their feet.

  • Troy | July 29, 2013 8:44 PM

    @Factchecker you lack the eloquent tact of an intellectual. Maybe you went to a fascist high school and suffered from bullying by athletes. However the bias is clear. Your examples are so isolated and focus so narrow that the subject matter could not possibly cover more than 5% of the sample group. Your are only aware of the mega stars. Obviously you have no respect for grassroots organizations who don't seek superstar endorsements and donations. No one outside the community can change a community. They can offer their presence, money, and moral support. How many doctors, lawyers, accountants, and other professional service providers offering free help constantly to the community. These people consistently prosper off of poor communities who pay higher rates for bundled services yet have never been demonized. All the black male athletes and entertainers giving away all their earnings public perception would hardly change. For your tones and sentiment suggest that you sincerely wish that no black make prosper from sports and other forms of entertainment. You are like Zimmerman supporters. No demographic in the world is populated with mostly intellectuals. So why the frustration with black male 1%s. How in the hell are young people supposed to seek out information they don't know exist while meeting more demands than was asked of earlier generations. Daily consuming more information than was possible even five years ago, while learning and retaining everything that happened in the history of the world. Those who hold onto static perspectives and knowledge bases are cowards. Forget choosing sides an elderly man called a white man black because he was involved in charities. Barack Obama has been responsible for the death of more young adults and children around the world in 5 years than Jay Z has in a 25 year career at the forefront of a culture. Cowards

  • FactChecker | July 27, 2013 7:06 PM

    I agree one-thousand percent with Campbell, but I find his one line interesting: *they have lost a connection with their uneducated brethren, but lack the full acceptance of their corporate colleagues.*

    That part of Campbell's argument, however, is a misnomer as Jay-Z is NOT an educated man. He comes from the streets. A former drug dealer who borders on being a pimp. While Michael Jordon is only, slightly, more intelligent than Jay-Z (which isn't saying much), having graduated from UNC with a degree in Cultural Geography (Read: a made up major for stupid college athletes).

    Fifty years ago I would not, necessarily, state that a man, or woman, would need a formal education in order to be considered educated or intellectually equal to men or women with degrees. Mr. Belafonte, and countless other nameless, faceless, black men and women, of his generation, are proof of that fact. But, by today's standards, that is no longer true. And Mr. Belafonte has earned the right to say whatever he damn well pleases, whenever he wants about whomever he wants. ... And when it comes to the common man, no high-profile celebrity respects the human race more than Springsteen.

    While many UNEDUCATED NEGRO ATHLETES are corporate slaves, HIGHLY EDUCATED ONES are not. The two that, immediately come to mind, for me, are Kareem Abdul Jabar, who majored in history at UCLA, has written books about race and racism in America, and regularly discusses the topic with school children. Kareem is a man of integrity who walks the walk.

    The other is Nnamdi Asomugha, who graduated from Berkeley with a degree in corporate finance and has it written into his contract, with NIKE, that a specified amount of his endorsement money go to a designated charity. And he's involved in many charitable efforts.

    The two aforementioned men, do this, and give back because it was instilled in them by their fathers. An element that, as I understand, was missing from Jay-Z's life. But apparently, such loss wasn't psychologically damaging enough for him to seek out a man, or men, who could teach him how to be a REAL man, since he's sorely lacking in that area.

    I just wish The Obamas would cut him and Bey loose. It really makes them (The Obamas) look bad to always hang with such trailer trash.

    And for those of you who have drank the kool-aid, just know Jay Z is a straight-up GRIFTER.

  • Brother Imhotep | July 27, 2013 6:13 PM

    I totally agree with Campbell.
    Michael Jordan perfected this successful corporate negro stance, and never looked back.

    Selling cell phones, sodas, sneakers, cheeseburgers and cars means sit down, shut up, and smile!

  • Don | July 27, 2013 6:03 PMReply

    Although I think Harry Belafonte may have some valid points he should have addressed them with Jay privately, even if he was asked by the media. By the way, don't forget how many young African Americans Jay has employed, that right there is a major contribution. I bet it's more than Bruce Springsteen.

  • t9chi | July 27, 2013 9:21 PM

    It sounds as if you're saying Jay Z deserves respect and Mr Belafonte doesn't. And what does money and education have to do with this. We are talking about standing up for our people. Providing a united front. If Jay Z can't deal with that, it means that he's forgotten where he came from. Who made him rich. As for Bruce Springsteen he's always on the scene for a good cause. I respect him for that. Don't for one minute think that just because your name is Jay Z, we need to bow down to you because you can throw out some rhymes. We would still be sitting on the back of the bus if it wasn't for people like Mr. Belafonte. They are trying to set us back anyways and when we got people like this in the forefront it doesn't help our situation. Those people in the Corporate world see you in a Hoodie Jay Z. You best believe it.

  • FactChecker | July 27, 2013 7:11 PM

    Really, Don? Really, you think Jay-Z has employed young black Americans to the tune of making any significant, stable middle class living? Really?

    You don't know how many people of any race he's employed. Nor do you know how many Springsteen, employed. You really should get your facts straight before you just generalize about something for which you, clearly, no nothing about.

    And how do you know Mr. Belafonte didn't approach Jay-Z, privately, and try to speak with him about his conduct? The answer is you don't. However, based on Jay-Z's narcisstic personality it wouldn't surprise me, at all, if he'd reached out to him, and Jay-Z dissed him.

  • Nadia | July 27, 2013 4:45 PMReply

    Jay-Z obviously felt guilty as charged, which is why he felt the need to reply. If he felt he was all the things Belafonte called him (and others) out for not being, then he'd just do what the man he's comparing himself to (Obama) would do in this situation: brush it off your shoulders and keep doing what you're doing. No need to respond. Let your actions speak for you. But Belafonte obviously struck something inside him, and there it is.

    And for anyone talking about money and wealth, this ain't even about that. It's about being in a position of influence and using that influence to bring change where change is needed. It's not about spending money. I don't think Belafonte was telling him what to do with his money. It's about using your position of power and influence to make a difference. Fuck a charity. Being on the frontlines and pounding pavement says much more than a passive act like writing checks for a charity. And when you look at the statistics of exactly how much of the money these charities collect actually goes to the causes they're fighting, and how much goes into the pockets of the people running them, it makes it an even more unimpressive act.

    But at the end of the day, Jay-Z's gonna do what Jay-Z's gonna do. It's his life to do with as he pleases. But one thing he should know straight up is that for someone in his position, he's going to find himself in these kinds of situations a lot. So he better get used to it, and learn to brush it off and do his thing, or he's going to struggle.

  • Gary S. | July 27, 2013 4:53 PM

    @NADIA -- Brushing it off is what he has done his whole career. You didn't hear about the deal with Samsung recently? I don't think he ain't sweatin it and is used to the sniping. This time he responded after being asks about it and now some folk are butt hurt. Like he was suppose to say 'thank you sir' for the insult. Pure stupidity.

  • Um no | July 27, 2013 4:49 PM

    And Harry B obviously felt guilty because he soften his approach after hearing Jay Z's response. Jay doesn't owe Harry shit.

  • Common Sense | July 27, 2013 4:28 PMReply

    Great job Harry. Extend the olive branch AFTER you insult him. Slap him in the face and then wonder why he says go to hell.

    Win him over with insults. That always works. Great job. smh

  • Erica | August 23, 2013 2:09 AM

    @UM NO really this generation is so disrespectful it is sad Jay-Z doesn't owe Harry no but what about the millions of people who made him successful his money didn't just appear out of thin air or what about the drugs he use to sell in his community does he owe them anything? he always brags about how much he has what car he drives ETC once again where do you think that money came from why is Jay-z Amongst other rappers allowed to just their success in our face

  • ALM | July 27, 2013 4:16 PMReply

    Jay-z is beyond disrespectful.

    1. Jay-z has no business calling Mr. Belafonte a boy. Mr. Belafonte was raised in a time when young Caucasian children called grown African American men boys. Jay-z knows this, and still persists to use racial connotations.

    2. Jay-z can't be mad because Bruce Springsteen actually stands for something. He was standing up for causes long ago, even when it made him unpopular. Ever heard of records such as "Born in the USA"?

    3. Jay-z will NEVER, EVER be anywhere near President Obama’s level. I don’t care how much money and power he amasses, and I don’t care that he has the President’s phone number. Jay-z still will never reach that level.

    4. President Obama does not just “exist”. He is a world leader who has the power to both introduce legislation and veto laws. He doesn’t bounce around a stage using the “n” word and then lay on yachts in his spare time.

    5. To whom much is given, much is required. Jay-z is reportedly worth at least half a billion dollars. Why can’t his mind grasp the fact that he could spend 3 or 4 months out of the year actually HELPING people?

    6. So what? You showed up at a rally for Trayvon Martin. Showing your face does nothing. Action must be taken. If MLK, Rosa Parks, the Freedom Riders though this way, we would all still be using separate water fountains and riding at the back of the bus.

  • Donella | March 1, 2014 10:41 AM

    Bruce even went there with "41 Shots" and offended quite a large segment of his fan base to do so.

    And when the majority of white rockers turned their noses up at We Are the World, Bruce was there.

    He's consistently there.

  • ALM | July 27, 2013 4:25 PM

    @ Blah Blah: Welcome, Jay-z!

  • Blah Blah | July 27, 2013 4:22 PM

    Says the guy who didn't work for any of Jay Z's wealth. Your opinion is irrelevant.

  • Candace | July 27, 2013 4:14 PMReply

    I LOVE Harry Belafonte, and have tremendous respect for him. And while everyone is entitled to their opinion, I think that he was wrong to have said what he did in the media. Bringing up Jay-Z and Beyonce specifically, and then comparing them to another person (especially a white person- and I do NOT mean this in a racist was but Mr. Belafonte went there). Not cool.

    First of all, everyone does not have to be an activist. That is something that you devote your life to, a choice that individuals make. I am generally charitable, but would not call myself an activist (though I have rallied for causes I believe in). It's funny that people call Jay-Z's response arrogance, but can't see the arrogance in Mr. Belafonte's statement. For the record, Jay-Z and Beyonce do give back (water project in Africa, scholarship fund for students, etc.). Apparently, it's not on the level that some people approve of, but he used his platform to make a personal jab at two other people in the spotlight. I think he missed the mark their.

    And yes, Harry Belafonte is 86. While Jay-Z and Beyonce are not babies, they are half his age. You never know what (more) a person may do as they age. I know HB has been fighting for causes most of his life, but times have changed (notice I'm not talking improvement but change). I could go on about the Springsteen comparison but I won't. I do like him though.

    Lastly, Black people are always pointing fingers at other Blacks. It's funny. I work at an elementary school in the inner city (at least 98% black student pop.)...guess who come out in droves to mentor? Do you think it's Blacks? Does this means that Black people just don't volunteer at all? No, but we could do more. But we're the first to point fingers at celebrities, and sadly this one man: "Jay-Z" is often the target. It's silly. If people, average, "every day" people spent more time focusing on the changes they can make, than on what celebrities are doing (or not doing according to them) then we would be better off on all fronts.

  • Troy | July 29, 2013 8:56 PM

    How young do you think Jay Z is? He is a few years behind Barack. He just became a father. How can you guarantee to me that McDonalds changed their recipes? Perception is the culprit. Jay and Bey change how you are perceived by everyone else. I don't know how you can do this and still respect yourself. Too bad your example was also a white person whose so called initiative is also a million dollar television contract.

  • Stacie | July 28, 2013 3:05 PM

    Candace, I think the point is that maybe if young celebrities like Jay Z and Beyonce did more for their communities they could inspire other to do more as well, like volunteer. If Jay Z rapped about raising your children right and joining the PTA, maybe more young parents would do that. Even if they don't do it, at least he is using his voice to try to make a difference. It's not just about giving money and starting a foundation but using your celebrity status to bring attention to social issues that need to be changed. To rally people to enact change. If Beyonce says boycott this brand because they are mistreating people for what ever reason, there would be a huge boycott of that brand. Chef Jamie Oliver is no where near as globally famous as they are but he used his public influence to get McDonalds to change their health hazardous recipes. These are things that also effect many of Beyonce and Jay z's fans.

    The Black community needs to stop blindly following or supporting Black celebrities just because they are Black. We are just putting money in peoples pockets who are doing nothing for the community at large. Some of them are even selling us out.

  • Ladybug | July 28, 2013 11:31 AM

    While charity is important . . . Charities reach is small. While activism has the potential to help millions. Belafonte has done both.

  • And | July 27, 2013 4:13 PMReply

    Belafonte has a "Messiah Complex"...and was foul for name-dropping JayZ and Beyoncé to get more heat from the press...he(Belafonte) is still an entertainer but has found that the role of the global humanitarian is more glamorous than singing calypso...i'm not hating on the old man because that is just his version of Game...but JayZ was spot on for slamming back at him instead of bowing down and feeding the illusion that the old guy is some kind of saint. In short, everybody is in it for themselves...lol...there are some genuine saints out there but they ain't chasing reporters and tv cameras everywhere...lol

  • Donella | March 1, 2014 10:39 AM

    Jay-Z calls himself HOVA (and his silly little friend calls himself Yeezus), but its Belafonte with the Messiah Complex. LOL Okay.

  • Peter Archanjo | July 27, 2013 4:10 PMReply

    Fugg JayZ and the cipher he rode in on.

  • Jaymes | July 27, 2013 4:09 PMReply

    First of all, Jay, your presence isn't enough. Those of us whom have a stage should use their position for the advancement of a people who lack a voice. The oppressed. Look at 14% employment rate Blacks suffer from, the schools closing in our neighborhoods, the disproportionate rate blacks are being incarcerated. We need you to be more than a presence. Don't be a tough guy on your records and then shrink when it comes to helping your people who have elevated you because you're scared of alienating the white folks you so desperately want approval from. And since he wants to conveniently bring up how Harry Belafonte shouted out Bruce over him, the black man. Well if you wanna go there, Jay. Why is the "white man" leading you on what YOU'RE supposed to be doing for YOUR PEOPLE?!

  • Troy | July 29, 2013 9:00 PM

    Bruce has done nothing for my people. No celebrity has done anything for my people. Rappers have nothing to do with unemployment rates. All you are saying is that he should live his life for everyone else.

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