Jay-Z Says Celebs Don’t Have An Obligation To Be Social Activists: Everyone should be doing their part – it isn’t about money. 


Jay-Z Says Celebs Don’t Have An Obligation To Be Social Activists: Everyone should be doing their part – it isn’t about money. 

With campaigning involvement for both President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and production credits for documentaries highlighting the Kalief Browder and Trayvon Martin stories, rapper Jay-Z is anything but socially irresponsible as legendary actor Harry Belafonte once implied. Shawn “Jay Z” Carter recently spoke about the premiere of “Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story,” and his own brand of social activism amidst a recent conversation with Mr. Belafonte.

Harry Belafonte

On being openly criticized by Harry Belafonte about his brand of activism he says, 

That narrative that this is something new for me — I get it, I understand, because now you see my name on the doc. But I’ve been doing this for a long time. The constitution of where I am from — from the streets of the Marcy Projects, it was a thing, where you would give someone something and never mention it. It’s crass, and it’s not cool.

So that was my foundation. My foundation was that of, let’s never talk about what we do for each other. It should be unspoken. I’m there for you, you’re there for me. If I need some help, you help me out.

So my charity was tied to that. And yes, Big B and I, we had a conversation shortly after. I’ve been to his house, we’ve talked many times. I don’t know how far he wants this to go out. I don’t know if he’s ever spoken about it, so I won’t speak too much in detail. But we had brilliant conversations after this.

I wish I hadn’t said [what I said then] because again, he’s someone who’s done so much work and I feel like what I felt about what he said should have been taken care of in-house, because we could’ve straightened each other out with a phone call without being on the record, or being on a record.

In a 2013 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Belafonte commented on Jay-Z and wife Beyoncé’s perceived lack of social awareness. He said:

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.


Beyoncé’s team responded by providing an abbreviated list of the superstars charity involvement:

…co-founding The Survivor Foundation “a multi-purpose community outreach facility in downtown Houston”; donating “100K in 2008 to the Gulf Coast Ike Relief Fund to aid Texas victims of Hurricane Ike”; performing in “MTV’s Hope For Haiti Now! Benefit in addition to making a generous monetary donation,” among many other charitable activities.

Jay-Z also bit back hard at Mr. Belafonte. In an interview with Elliot Wilson, Jay-Z commented:

I’m offended by that because first of all, this is gonna sound arrogant, but my presence is charity. Just who I am. I felt like Belafonte, he just went about it wrong. Like the way he did it in the media. And then he bigged up Bruce Springsteen or somebody, and it was like, whoa, you just sent the wrong message all the way around. You know what I’m saying? You bigged up–Bruce Springsteen is a great guy, you know what I mean? You a civil rights activist and you just bigged up the white guy against me in the white media.

In the interview, also he gave an updated opinion on Black celebrities’ social responsibility. He said:

I think the way that people view celebrity is unfair. Everyone should be filling in and doing their part because it isn’t about money. It’s not.

That doesn’t solve it. I think that everyone should check our compassion and our empathy. That’s the thing that’s going to happen, that we all check in, and we get in touch with our compassion and empathy cause that is the solution.

And until we get into that place, things like this will continue to happen. We’re still on basic problems. This is like, you’re white, I’m black. I mean, there are so many different levels of all the complexities of things we have to get through as a human race, and we’re still on basic levels.

By: Miata Shanay 

Authored by: Kellie Williams