By: Taren Vaughan
Beyonce’ and Jay-Z have clinched the top spot as the music industry’s most powerful couple, and wealthiest at that. With both artists having extremely successful careers and millions of die hard fans across the globe, the Carter Family gets much love from them for offering up their views on issues outside of the studio that are going on in society. As Beyonce’ and Jay-Z may have been crowned as the highest paid celebrity couple in Hollywood by Forbes and are heavily praised by their fans for making good music and having a voice, a legendary social activist thinks that with the kind of power they possess, Bey and Jay aren’t doing quite enough to make a difference and really enforce change.
In an interview that he did with The Hollywood Reporter, Award-Winning Actor/Singer-song writer Harry Belafonte was asked a series of questions, one of them being if he was pleased at how minorities are presently represented on the Hollywood scene.
And Belafonte made it clear that he wasn’t too thrilled about it at all, specifically calling out Beyonce’ and Jay-Z in his response:
“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 — shit. 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 Beyonce, for example. Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you’re talking. I really think he is black.”
Belafonte was also asked his thoughts on how our current society affects activists like himself who fought for equality for men and women of color, saying that the racism was much more blatant back then:
“Definitely. Back then, the enemies were very clear, very precise. It is easy to fight oppression if it comes in [the form of] a swastika and a boot, and as a dictator, and you can see it and feel it and touch it. It is easy when there is a sign that says “No N—–s“ or “No Jews.“ Where it becomes the most insidious is when it buries itself and you can no longer touch it but can taste that yet it is there, fully blown, doing insane mischief. That is why I think the period now is the most challenging I’ve ever lived in.”
In response to the same question, Belafonte said he also feels that although President Barack Obama is head of our country with many of his supporters feeling like he has made a true change, to him, things are still very much the same:
“The power in many societies has become almost absolute. Those who have the power in the free-enterprise system start to crush societies and create wars that are unholy. What we did during the Bush period, what we still continue to do, even with Barack Obama, is the continuency of not changing the paradigm, of not changing the view. We still have laws that encourage torture, we did not change Guantanamo, we have laws that allow the police to arrest you at any time, not having to tell you why, and take you wherever they want. This kind of capitalism is taking us to the doorstep of [a] Fourth Reich, I think.”
We have witnessed them speak out about political and social issues, Beyonce’ publicly backing Frank Ocean when he revealed that he was gay while Jay-Z expressed his support for same sex marriage, labeling it as discrimination to be against it. And they both have shown their endless support for President Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama as well.
But in Harry Belafonte’s eyes, they haven’t done nearly enough.
Do you agree with him?
Are Beyonce’ and Jay-Z giving the cold shoulder to social responsibility? For all celebrities in general, should social responsibility fall squarely on their shoulders?