Though a lot of people who think about such things would argue that Beyonce and Jay-Z ‘do a lot’ for minorities simply by existing and donating tons of money to causes like the Shawn Carter Foundation and World Humanitarian Day, Harry Belafonte is unconvinced.
Belafonte, a singer, songwriter and actor who was responsible for some songs you have most certainly heard like “Calypso,” the ‘Day-O’ “Banana Boat Song” and “Jamaica Farewell,” told The Hollywood Reporter that Jay and Bey were “turning their back on social responsibility.”
I’d really like to know what Harry has to say about Kanye and Kevin Hart’s KKK VMA commercial.
Belafonte, who was at the peak of his musical career in the '50s and '60s, became a vocal political and social activist later in life. He was one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s closest friends, and used his wealth to finance the Freedom Rides. He also organized the ‘80s “We Are The World” song to benefit LiveAid. I guess for someone like that, any lower level of activism reads as major slacking.
The Hollywood Reporter must have known that they were opening a big can of worms when they asked Harry if he was “happy with the image of members of minorities in Hollywood today.”
Harry replied: “Not at all. They have not told the history of our people, nothing of who we are. We are still looking. We are not determinated. We are not driven by some technology that says you can kill Afghans, the Iraqis or the Spanish. It is all -- excuse my French -- s**t. It is sad. And 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.”
Admittedly he lost me in the middle there, and I have no idea how Bruce Springsteen could be construed as black, unless Belafonte can’t praise Springsteen’s activism without calling him black for some strange reason.