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by Maria Lloyd
In response to legendary Harry Belafonte’s remarks about she and her husband’s lack of philanthropic efforts, Beyoncé Knowles’ team has decided to release an “abbreviated list of the unselfish work Beyoncé has done and continues to do” to the press. The list includes the co-founding of The Survivor Foundation- a multi-purpose community outreach facility in downtown Houston, financial donations- including $100k in 2008 to the Gulf Coast Ike Relief Fund, and charitable music performances- such as MTV’s Hope for Haiti Now! Benefit and her most recent, World Humanitarian Day initiative in which she filmed her “I Was Here” video at the United Nation’s General Assembly.
I applaud her for her contributions. Now, could she do more? Of course she can! In fact, we can all do more to uplift, inspire, and rebuild the black community. The “Us vs. Them” mentality we’ve acquired in our community has led us to regression. With out-of-wedlock child births at 70%, 1,000,000 black men populating prisons, and black obesity being the highest in the nation of all ethnic groups, there are plenty of things that all of us can do to better the community.
I challenge each of you to question your own philanthropic efforts. When was the last time you taught a teenager -who has been passed through the bogus school system- how to read? When was the last time you educated an uneducated adult on how to use the internet? Have you ever created and/or contributed to a scholarship fund for low-income children? Before you fix your fingers to post a comment about anyone’s contributions, ask yourself when was the last time you made a positive contribution to the community. In contrast, if you have made a substantial contribution to the community, recruit others to join you.
Instead of providing an abbreviated list of her philanthropic efforts in response to Harry Belafonte’s criticism, Beyoncé should’ve considered asking Harry Belafonte to join she and her husband in their next philanthropic initiative. Back and forth finger pointing hasn’t made a positive impact on the community. At the same time, we can encourage our artists to see a higher standard for themselves and stop believing that money is the only thing that matters while the entire black community is in peril.
Black history specialist Aaron D. Johnson, writing for YourBlackBlogggers.net, puts it into historical context:
“African Americans have been taught to subscribe to the most destructive and ignorant components of our society. In order to counteract this growing problem, the elders of the community as well as people who have some kind of power or influence should reach back to help restore African American society and cultural significance. The question becomes: Will they care enough to actively work to make change? Harry Belafonte hit the nail on the proverbial head when he verbalized his distaste for the selfishness of Beyonce and Jay Z. But they are just the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot more people on this list and the problems with these so – called celebrities are deeper than we think.”