Can’t We All Just Get Along? Harry Belafonte Wants To Talk It Out With Jay Z & Beyoncé

July 29, 2013  |  

For the past year we’ve been discussing this Harry Belafonte/Jay Z/ Beyoncé thing. I’m sure you’ve caught wind of it by now; but in case you haven’t I’ll recap here.

It all started  in 2012 when Belafonte publicly criticized Jay Z and Beyonce for not using the super stardom to address issues of social justice.

“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.”

Naturally, neither one of them appreciated his comments. Beyoncé’s camp responded by listing her philanthropic efforts over the years while Jay Z decided to deal with it in his music, over a year later. On his song “Nickels and Dimes” on his Magna Carta Holy Grail album, Jay Z addresses Belafonte’s comments:

“I’m just trying to find common ground/‘fore Mr. Belafonte come and chop a ni**a down/Mr. Day O, major fail/Respect these youngins boy, it’s my time now/Hublot homie, two door homie/You don’t know all the s**t I do for the homies” 

In an interview with veteran Hip Hop journalist Elliot Wilson, he went on to say that he was offended by Mr. Belafonte’s approach especially in the way he went to the white media and compared Jay Z against Bruce Springsteen, a white man.

Well, recently Belafonte sat down with MSNBC to speak about the very social justice issues he’d like to see the Carter family support. He’s recently lent his name to the non-violent activists called the “Dream Defenders.” The group has been protesting outside of the capitol building in Tallahassee, Florida since last Tuesday. They’re remaining there until Governor Rick Scott meets with them to discuss the “Stand Your Ground” law.

Belafonte applauded artists like Jamie Foxx and Chuck D. For getting involved with The Dream Defenders and also encouraged Stevie Wonder’s boycott against Florida. When he mentioned Stevie’s boycott, that’s when MSNBC’s Chris Hayes took the opportunity to ask Belafonte if he thought Jay Z should cancel his upcoming concert in Florida. Here’s what Belafonte had to say in response:

“I would be hard pressed to tell Mr. Jay Z what to do with this time and his fortune. All I can be critical is of what he is not doing. This conflict that is emerging was not from me as a direct attack on Jay Z or Beyoncé….And I made the observation that the highly powerful voice that our community has—Black America has—there is so much celebrity power that it was sad to see that the collective of the celebrity power had not been applied to bring consciousness to the inequities that we face. I would hope that Jay Z would not take personally what was said because it was not said about him personally.

Having said that, I would like to say to Jay Z, to Beyoncé: My heart is wide open and filled with nothing but hope and the promise that we can sit and have a one-on-one. And lets understand each other rather than try to answer these questions and these nuances in a public place.”

Agreed. Perhaps this should have been his initial approach.

Watch the interview with Mr. Belafonte on the next page. 

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