Harry Belafonte Slams Beyonce’ and Jay-Z for Lack of Social Responsibility

Harry Belafonte Beyonce Jay Z

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?



  1. Was he lying though? Bey and Jay said nothing when the white actress friend said the N word. They’re selfish people and it shows.

  2. Huh??!! Bey and Jay give back plenty. Just because it’s not plastered all on the blogs doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. He’s reaching.

  3. LMAO he told the damn truth. Bey and her hideous husband are incredibly silent when it comes to uplifting the community. They’re filthy rich and owe the community more. Especially since they brag about what they have so much.

  4. Jay-Z and Beyonce have done alot more than people think, Harry needs to hush with his ole ignant self talkin about people. He probably didn’t do his research on their careers.

    – Destiny’s Child started the Survivor Foundation, a charitable entity set up to provide transitional housing for 2005 Hurricane Katrina victims
    – Beyonce donated $100,000 to the Gulf Coast Ike Relief Fund, which benefits victims of Hurricane Ike in the Houston area.
    – Destiny’s Child lent their voices and support as global ambassadors for the 2005 World Children’s Day program
    – Beyonce donated her entire salary to Phoenix House, an organization of rehabilitation centers around the country
    – March 5, 2010, Beyonce and her mother, opened the Beyoncé Cosmetology Center at the Brooklyn Phoenix House.

    – Jay-Z pledged $1 million to the American Red Cross’ relief effort after Hurricane Katrina
    – Jay-Z appeared, along with other artists, in an ad prepared by the HeadCount organization, urging voters, and especially younger ones, to register and vote

    And that’s some of it, theres more, just because the media doesn’t tell you what these artists are doing as social ambassadors, doesn’t mean that they aren’t doing anything. It’s like how people dog Lil Wayne and Birdman even though people can vouch for them being socially responsible.

    But they don’t owe anybody anything if you want to be real about it.

    1. But doing something doesn’t mean throwing money at a problem it’s making sure the money makes it to the right places but also speaking out and being ACTIVE in your community all that money people throw at problems is usually for image or tax breaks most artist are required to give a certain amount.

      1. This. And it’s my personal belief now and when Belafonte made the statements, that this is what he meant. Take what Belafonte, Dick Gregory, etc. have done in terms of their voice, their money, their time, their actions and boots on the ground activism and compare it to Jay-Z and we see that there is no comparison. I think he could have been wiser in speaking to Jay on the side, perhaps even mentor him and other celebs, but I do think that this is where he was ultimately coming from. Well stated, Veegee.

  5. Here we go asking more out of celebs than regular people. Everyone should practice social responsibility. I’m tired of people riding this couple. What are they supposed to be? Superheroes?

    1. I agree with you totally…in my comment I said I wonder how many of these people actually give back to their own communties before they decide to pass judgement..it’s crazy

  6. Well I respect Harry Belafonte. The man is a legend. But with that being said, I disagree with him on this. Jay-Z and Beyonce do give back and they do it quite often. We just live in a day and age when good news isn’t really reported. Sadly, that’s not what people want to read. So all the good works celebs do will continue to go unnoticed. That’s just the way it is.

    1. But he didn’t say they didn’t give back, he said they didn’t do enough. Honestly, I don’t know if they’s done “enough” or not. We would essentially have to define “enough.” But, I do know they’ve done enough bragging to last a lifetime. That’s all.

  7. You Beyonce stans are delusional. Harry isn’t talking about the 3 things a celeb does a year for tax write off purposes. He’s talking about really giving something back to the community that doesn’t really benefit you. Recording songs even for a charity is free publicity, giving money to Hurricane Katrina is publicity. He’s talking abut doing real things and fighting for real causes. And I’m sorry, neither Beyonce or Jay-Z have done that in my opinion.

  8. I hate when old a– celebs try to school people and don’t know what they’re talking about. Not every celeb is going to run to the media every time they do something good. Damn. Sit your old a– down.

  9. I believe he was refering to contributing to the community and not nesscarrily for a tax write off. We get so blinded by the trees that we can’t always see the forest. There are many black communties that could benefit from more positive black leaders but you can only expect so much from two high school drop outs who make most of their decesions based on what other people tell them to do. Not to say that you need a diploma to make it but being educated and knowing yourself and your people has alot to do with how you feel about them. Jay-Z and Beyonce are products of what they know themselves to be. A southern girl who’s father thought her music and earning potential as a musician trumped her education and a young boy from teh projects who hustled his way through life and betrayed his best friend to get to the top. Think about the type of people we are dealing with and then ask yourself “should we really be expecting so much of them?” Also we as black people are always WAITING for someone else to step up to the plate and make a contribution instead of making one ourselves…do you donate clothingm time or food to your communities? These are the things I mean when I say the forest for the trees.. we have got to do better….really we do. – The Truth Seeker

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