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Harry Belafonte, Jay-Z Beef Can be Squashed with History Lesson

by Todd A. Smith

 

Deference

            “To those who loved and toiled and strove, For thee in other years.  I give full honor and revere, Our noble brothers dear.”

            The lyrics to the “Kappa Alpha Psi Hymn” exhibit the fraternal experience, but the second verse of the song should be indicative to any struggle, regardless of Greek affiliation.

            Fraternities and sororities often preach deference for those who came before you so that you understand and appreciate the struggle and can learn from the success and failure of the previous generation.  Harry Belafonte, although not a Kappa, is one of those who toiled for thee in other years, and current celebrities like Jay-Z should listen and learn from celebrities who jeopardized their career for the betterment of their people.

            Harry Belafonte and Jay-Z are currently enthralled in a disagreement about the rap mogul’s involvement in the recent rallies in protest of the George Zimmerman verdict.  The rapper, whose real name is Shawn Carter, stated that his mere presence at these rallies is enough, while Belafonte believes the entertainer should use his influence to make more of a difference in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin death.

            “This is going to sound arrogant, but my presence is charity,” Jay-Z said about Belafonte’s criticism of him.  “Just who I am. Just like Obama is.  Obama provides hope.  Whether he does anything, the hope that he provides for a nation, and outside of America is enough.”

            With all due respect to “Hov,” that is total nonsense.  While President Barack Obama’s first campaign and election did provide hope, nobody would be satisfied if the leader of the free world did nothing with the power he has from having the most powerful job in the world.  And furthermore, President Obama also preached about change, not just hope, and with power comes the possibility that that person can initiate change.

            Although Harry Belafonte and Jay-Z may disagree about the rapper’s role in the Martin rallies and protests, Jay-Z has to realize the power that he has not only to make a financial difference in his own life, but also the power and influence he has with businesspeople and politicians like President Obama.

            The rapper has provided hope for those growing up in housing projects throughout the country to go literally from rags to riches, but he has to now use that power to make a difference, and Belafonte is the perfect servant-leader to provide the young mogul with the proper instruction.

            Webster’s Dictionary defines deference as “yielding in opinion or respect.”  Belafonte deserves Jay-Z’s respect and he needs to heed the advice of his elders when it comes to making a real difference in the lives of others.

            During the Civil Rights Movement, entertainers like Belafonte, Ray Charles and Lena Horne did not just bless those in the struggle with their presence; they put their careers on the line for us.  If they had not done that, Jay-Z, the mogul, would not exist.  Period.

            Charles was banned by many Southern states for refusing to play for segregated audiences.

            Furthermore, actress Eartha Kitt was blackballed from Hollywood for years for speaking in opposition to the Vietnam War while on a White House visit.

            The celebrities of yesteryear did not rest on their laurels and remain silent because they lived a comfortable and affluent lifestyle.  They jeopardized their wealth and power to make a difference for all of God’s children, even those without a voice.  Ultimately, they became their voice because they were blessed with a platform to speak out.

            The Brooklyn, N.Y.-born and bred rapper has an even bigger platform to initiate change, and hopefully he uses that to not only change the music industry with landmark business deals, but uses it to initiate landmark legislation or judicial decisions that can protect the next Trayvon Martin from a senseless death.

            Furthermore, Harry Belafonte and Jay-Z need to discuss the passing of the torch.  A generation of leaders is dying out, and the rapper needs to defer to the actor/singer and learn what it means to be a true –servant-leader, not just a money maker.

            The “Kappa Alpha Psi Hymn” concludes with, “We’ll live for thee, we’ll strive for thee, We’ll all thy ways adore.  We’ll long for thee and toil until we reach that Golden Shore.”

            Belafonte continues to live out the lyrics of this hymn, now hopefully Jay-Z can learn to do likewise.

This article was published on Friday 09 August, 2013.
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