Thursday, August 1, 2013

@bdotTM "Your Struggle and My Struggle are Two Different Things."

File Under: We Are In This Together

That observation comes from an article posted by VIBE magazine on rapper Jay-Z's response to a 2012 comment by historic entertainer and activist, Harry Belafonte, calling for celebrities of today to take a more meaningful role in social change.  The comment really epitomizes the mindset of anyone who could believe that the rapper was justified in his words and manner of attack.  And Jay-Z has plenty of sycophants willing to endorse his utterly classless counter-assault.

How could one person get so much wrong in one statement?  This statement intimates that Harry Belafonte was not struggling for others, but for himself, and that Civil Rights was only about black people.  It implies that the world can be divided cleanly into: black/white, me/you, us/them, rich/poor, Democrat/Republican, Liberal/Conservative, or American/Not.  It says there is no "our struggle," there is only "your struggle" and "my struggle." It believes that "your struggle" ended sometime before I was born and I have no responsibility as a human being of any race/ethnicity/status to contribute to the ongoing fight.  This is the self-serving, me-centric attitude that permeates our society, our politics and our policy.  It is the reason asian children manufacture $200 sneakers in horrendous sweatshops for pennies.  It is the reason starving, AIDS-infected children die in diamond mines or genocides in Africa.  It is the reason thousands of young black men and teenagers are murdered every year in America's inner cities.  It is the reason thousands of women suffer abuse and rape in less developed countries.  Because their struggles are not my struggle.  I have no responsibility to anyone or anything other than myself.  My only duty in life is to amass possessions, and shuck-and-jive for Massa in the hopes that one day he gives me my freedom.

Even if you set aside Jay-Z's unmitigated hubris and his gross impertinence for speaking to a man four decades his senior in such an irreverent manner, you have to see that Jay-Z (and those like him) are in prime position to positively impact the lives of millions in a more than monetary way, and they absolutely are not.  No one expects every celebrity to be Mother Theresa, and despite his sizeable giving, Jay-Z is far from the gold standard of charity and philanthropy.  Every able-bodied, sound-minded man and woman who walks this Earth has a responsibility to leave it better than he or she found it.  Those who have more or are given more, should do more.  This is not because celebrities are special or have special insight.  This is because if those with less are always the ones putting forth the most effort to turn the gears of change, then we as a species are going to get nowhere fast.
"The end is not yet. This is a beginning. The times ahead are just as difficult as the times behind." ~Charleston Heston


  1. You sir, sound like a commie.

    1. Check out the post about raising the minimum wage, it is downright Un-American. Thanks for stopping by and reading.