I have written about the legendary, icon, singer, songwriter, television host, movie star, civil rights activist, husband, father and one of the most admired men in the United States of America (USA), Harry Belafonte, in a prior blog. This past week on Chris Hayes’ MSNBC Show, “All In With Chris Hayes,” Mr. Belafonte reinforced – at least to me – why he is one of the most gracious and admired men in the USA. Apparently, Mr. Belafonte – while at a press conference in Switzerland – was asked by a reporter what are his impressions of the social responsibilities artists today display as opposed to the artists of his era. He made the observation – rightly so – that the “highly powerful voices” in the African-American community “sadly” had not applied their “collective celebrity power” to bring consciousness to the inequalities African-Americans face in the USA. He mentioned Jay Z and Beyoncé as examples of his observations. This prompted Jay Z to mock Mr. Belafonte in one of his rap songs on his new album. Jay Z used the N-word and called Mr. Belafonte, Mr. Day O (where is the respect Jay Z?) in one of the rap song’s verses. What a shame, Jay Z! He (Jay Z) also called Mr. Belafonte, “Belafonte,” during an interview with Rap Radar and he ridiculed Mr. Belafonte for praising Bruce Springsteen while calling him (Jay Z) out in the white press as he puts it.
Mr. Belafonte has said artists, Chuck D and Jaime Foxx, also heard the criticism and asked to meet with him to discuss how they can cure his observations. They did not attack Mr. Belafonte like Jay Z did. I wonder who in Jay Z’s camp is advising him on matters such as this public relations issue. Is anyone of the king’s subjects informing him he’s naked? Does Jay Z understands he’s out of bound? Mr. Belafonte has earned the right to say whatever he wants. He has been fighting on the frontlines for justice before Jay Z was born. PLEASE SOMEBODY EDUCATE JAY Z. Mr. Belafonte is certainly one of the most revered civil rights leaders living today. He should not be disrespected and taunted in “a rap song or in pop culture interviews.”
Mr. Belafonte showing the CLASS he has exuded throughout his life has extended an olive branch and requested to meet with Jay Z and Beyoncé – without the presence of television cameras and print reporters – to discuss their emerging conflict . Kudos to Mr. Belafonte for displaying why he is one of the most admired, intelligent and caring men in the United States of America. My hope is that Jay Z has learned a valuable lesson from this controversy. Moreover, hopefully he’ll live long enough to truly understand what Mr. Belafonte was saying. By the way did I mentioned Mr. Belafonte is 86 years old.
Keep On Rising Mr. Belafonte!