By now most people have heard Jay Z’s controversial response to legendary activist/artist Harry Belafonte’s critique of his lack of social activism. But just in case you haven’t, it went like this:
“Yeah I’m offended by that because first of all…this is going to sound arrogant…but my presence is charity, just because of who I am. Just like Obama’s[Barack] is. Obama provides hope. Whether he does anything the hope that he provides for a nation and outside of America is enough. You know what I’m saying?”
Actually, I don’t know what you’re saying. Especially in light of the dwindling hope very few in our community still have in President Obama’s ability to make real change for Black America. Black unemployment continues to rise, homicide is still far and away the leading cause of death for young black men, and according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime.
But if Jay Z, does actually believe his “presence is charity”, here are 5 places he needs to visit immediately. Not now, but right now!
Maybe Jay not joining Stevie Wonder’s boycott of Florida is a good thing. When he shows up the Sunshine State on his tour with Justin Timberlake, he can stop by Tallahassee and join the Dream Defenders like Harry Belafonte did on Friday. The Dream Defenders are attempting to get Florida to pass Trayvon’s Law, which would repeal Stand Your Ground, ban racial profiling, and end the school to prison pipeline. Coincidentally, after Mr. Belafonte’s visit, the Florida Capital Police refused to allow the Dream Defenders to bring in food for the over 100 men, women, and children that were inside. To make matters even worse in Florida, an unarmed Black man was just shot, by sheriff deputies, 5 times for parking his car outside of his own home. They need you there bad Jay Z.
Yes, the city which had over 500 murders last year really needs Jay Z. 54 people were shot in between last Friday night and Monday morning. 10 of them were killed, including 2 boys, between 16 and 20, who were found naked, lying face down.What’s Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to stop the violence? Close 50 schools, where 9 out of the 10 students effected are Black.
By now almost everyone has heard about Detroit’s near-bankruptcy. Surprisingly, many people still have not heard about the death of 7 year old Aiyana Jones, who was killed by a Detroit Police Officer while they were filming a episode of the reality TV show “The First 48″. Even fewer people seem to know that a mistrial was declared for Officer Joseph Weekley who shot and killed a sleeping Aiyana. Thankfully, it seems Officer Weekley will be retried in the shooting of little Aiyana before the end of the year. Maybe if Jay Z shows up it will make the national news.
4) Pine Ridge
Pine Ridge, South Dakota according to the New York Times is a, “poster child of American poverty“, with the, “the lowest per capita income in the entire United States.” “Half the population over 40 on Pine Ridge has diabetes, and tuberculosis runs at eight times the national rate. As many as two-thirds of adults may be alcoholics, one-quarter of children are born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, and the life expectancy is somewhere around the high 40s — shorter than the average for sub-Saharan Africa. Less than 10 percent of children graduate from high school.” According to the website Re-member.org, the unemployment rate is 80-90%. Damn Jay, they need some inspiration. Fuel up your private jet and fly there ASAP!
That’s right Jay, your people really need you in your own hometown. Why? Gentrification has gotten so bad in Brooklyn that many poor people of color are being gentrified into homeless shelters. Of course the Barclay Center , of which Jay Z is the public face, has been in many ways the crown jewel in the remaking of Brooklyn. And don’t forget it wasn’t that long ago when 16 year old Kimani Gray was shot and killed by police, while he was unarmed and on the ground,according to an eye witness. Kimani was hit with 7 shots, 3 of which were in his back, and his death lead to several nights of protests by young people of color. Sadly, Jay Z’s presence was nowhere to be found.
For the record, I’m in no way attempting to blame Jay Z for all of America’s ills, that would be ridiculous. But it’s also ridiculous to think your mere presence some how improves the reality for young people of color, that goes for Jay and President Obama. That’s not only arrogant, it shows how out of touch he actually is. It also takes me back to his infamous line of his song, “Moment of Clarity” where he states, “Truthfully I want to rhyme like Common Sense”. With our community in the condition it’s in, especially after the George Zimmerman verdict, I wonder what, or who is stopping him.