Some Food for Thought on this Jay Z/ Harry Belafonte Thang

jayz glassesAbout this Jay Z / Harry Belafonte thing..One of the ways people look at this scenario is by noting that if the community supports a celebratory/ entertainer, that celebratory/ entertainer should ideally support the community… Hence when Jay Z remarked that his presence is charity feel like it’s a lopsided equation because in reality our collective presence in the form of concert tickets, albums sales and clothing purchases is what puts Jigga on the social and financial map.

The other thing we should not forget, that the Black community is still for the most part a trendsetter and validator of trends.. Meaning that sales of Roc-A-Wear or the sale of Jay-Z the artist would’ve gone no where in the world of cross over if Black folks didn’t co-sign Jay Z when nobody was checking for him..

This applies to a whole lot of businesses and so in looking at this from a wider lens we should ideally understand our true value from top to bottom in the marketplace. In short lots of institutions are eating off what we as Black people create, make popular, remix & rework etc..

So while its important that an artist like Jay-Z give back to the community, we should also note that the institutions that he was on Def Jam/ Universal ..Live Nation etc should also be supporting the community as well. Whatever Jay Z makes pales in comparison to the money some of these outlets made off a Jay and by default us..

Now of course we know that corporations are not about the business of helping folks they exploit get free of their grips..But one should push, demand, kick up dust anyway while always keeping in the forefront of our minds the worth we bring to the table..

The name of the game for corporations is to make it seem like they did us a favor..Long before Jigga uttered those words about his presence being charity, major corporations have not only made that same claim, but took it a step further by insisting you pay them for the honor, which many of us have gladly done..If you don’t believe me look at all the labels we flaunt .. Look at all the brands we highlight..From Cristal to Nike to Tom Ford whose name and brand was made into an anthem on Jay Z’s latest album..

Ideally we should return to the days where we stop name checking institutions and companies who bank off us for billions and never give back..I yearn for the days when we made our own labels and brands that we stuck on clothes and big upped in songs..

Also while we ask Jay-Z to do more, let that burden not be his alone, lets find ways for us all to do more.. Maybe its money, maybe its time that we give.. maybe its us opening doors and supporting those who do the hard work.. There is no one way and there should be no limit.. What we should be striving for is investing back into ourselves and the community with the goal of establishing long-term wealth and long-lasting institutions.

So is Jay Z’s presence charity? I’m not sure.. But if he wants to look at things from that lens, then we can be sure of this: over the past 17 years, my presence has meant a few dollars in Jay-Z’s pocket.. The air play I gave him was a few more dollars. The joints I played at nightclubs padded him up a little more.. The articles he was mentioned in good and bad was still some more dollars.. The Roc-A-Wear gear we purchased over the years was money still and I paid for a couple of concerts.. Multiply that by several million folks who have done the same or similar things and you get the picture..

I’m clear I made an investment in the ‘business’ called Jay-Z.. I made the investment in the dope dealer trying to go good..I showed up time and time again..Was the songs I got and the clothing I wore a good return on the investment?? Maybe.. Maybe not.. My point being is this is not a one way street.. I wasn’t ‘blessed by Hov..if anything, I along with millions of fans and the community at large, blessed him.. I sincerely hope him and Harry Belafonte have a sit down..Jay Z can do so much better.

Some food for thought..

Below is a historic panel discussion on the Civil Rights Movement.. This is the level of discourse, political awareness and involvement that today’s artists should ideally have…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdIHBod9nT4

How Will Iraq Vets React to Our Mass Economic Disparities?

Glad to see all the troops coming home, now that the war in Iraq is officially over.. However in a world with No Jobs, Increased Foreclosures & lawmakers pushing to make even more cuts while telling those who’ve fallen on economic hard times to ‘blame themselves‘, do these returning men and women who did 4 & 5 tours of duty, become police officers, FBI and ICE agents who enforce the status quo and crush those who challenge it, or do they follow the steps of those who see the inequalities in our society and fight for change?

One needs to bear in mind, that a sizeable number of people who joined our military did so because of what we call the economic draft.. Poverty and the inability to find jobs was impacting many in our communities long before an Occupy Movement or the notion of a 1% vs 99% emerged. The military heavily recruited desperate folks from our neighborhoods promising folks a new lease on life and the opportunity to establish some sort of economic foothold. Commercials greeted us daily with the slogan, Be All That You Can Be.. Many never dreamt they would see the horrors of war and be required to return to the battlefield over and over again..

The psychological impact of all that combat alone should be of grave concern..All of us should be asking about what sort of measures are being put in place for returning vets to detox? How will returning vets deal with PTS (Post Traumatic Stress)?

We already have huge population of vets who are out on the streets homeless, unable to re-adjust to society.. How are we handling them?

We also have not acknowledged that the suicide rate of vets has damn near outpaced those killed in combat.. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen a whooping 18 suicides per day among soldiers.

As I asked earlier, how will these returning soldiers react when they come home to see that we spent trillions to liberate Iraq while grandma, auntie and mother are living in communities where the poverty rate is at record highs and homes they once owned have been foreclosed on with no jobs in sight?

Will these returning vets see themselves as part of a struggling community and seek to align themselves with those pushing for change or will they spiral into the ruthlessness we seen demonstrated in places like Egypt where we have folks fighting for freedom and democracy while a standing army that we pay for with American tax dollars are pulling out all the stops to brutally suppress them?

Will we see more soldiers who are of the caliber demonstrated by the Iraq Veterans Against the War or will we see soldiers who are of the caliber demonstrated by those who embraced and carried out the horrific torture techniques we seen demonstrated at places like Abu Ghraib? Even more troubling will find returning vets desperate for work and eager for some sort of stability being recruited by rich and powerful corporate executes to serve as a literal private army of sorts?

A couple of years ago I penned an article predicting that as the economy spirals out of control the new middle class (meaning those with jobs) will be cops and soldiers hired & paid handsomely to be a buffer between those who are poor and those we now identify as the 1%.

If one thinks this is far-fetched, I urge folks to talk to victims of Katrina who experienced first hand what it was like when they encountered private armies like Blackwater patrolling the streets of New Orleans, rebuffing those seeking refuge from dry and resource filled hotels and other facilities.

History shows that once upon a time African-American soldiers returning from World Wars 1 & 2, realized that the situation at home was dire especially along racial lines. The freedoms they fought for overseas in Europe were not afforded to many of us here at home who suffered under harsh Jim Crow laws. Many became disenchanted and pressed the issue. They demanded equality.

One of those returning soldiers was Civil Rights icon Harry Belafonte who recently spoke at First Congregation Church in Berkeley who spoke about what it was like for those returning from war after they tasted freedom. He noted that as many started to ask alot of questions about equal rights, the oppression toward them and us was substantially increased..

Belafonte talked about how lynchings and racial terror increased all over the country as society made attempts to put returning Black soldiers back in their place. Many did not take to the suppression lightly and at various points there were armed resistence and struggle. This inequality and subsequent repression also gave rise to the Civil Rights Movements and Black Freedom struggles..of the 60s and 70s.

My question is how will our returning brethren behave in 2011 when they return to this massive economic inequality?

written by Davey D