In an interview with MSNBC, Mr. Belafonte was asked if Jay Z should continue to play a concert with Justin Timberlake in Florida in August and he did not hold back. As he always does Mr. Belafonte spoke from the heart. Take a look below.
“I would be hard pressed to tell Mr. Jay Z what to do with this time and his fortune. All I can be is 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 Beyonce. I was at a press conference in Switzerland. Questions were raised by the international press. They asked about the artists and the social engagement of the past based on a film we were watching…and how artists responded earlier in my life and how they responded today. 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. Artist that heard that responded in a very strong way. You’ll find that Jamie Foxx, you’ll find Chuck D [of Public Enemy]…you find that any number of highly profiled people have taken that critique and called for [a meeting]. We’ve sat. We’ve talked. And I will tell you now that these people that I’ve just mentioned are officially behind Dream Defenders. They are prepared to come down. They are prepared to perform. 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 Beyonce: 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.”
He was in part responding to a recent comment made by Jay Z in which Jay said,
“I’m offended by that because first of all, and this is going to sound arrogant, but my presence is charity. Just who I am. I felt Belafonte he just went about it wrong. Like the way he did it in the media, and then he big’d up Bruce Springsteen or somebody. And it was like, ‘whoa,’ you just sent the wrong message all the way around.”
Harry Belefonte has been in the trenches fighting the good fight for the African American community for nearly his entire life. He is to be respected. The callous youth sometimes forget whose shoulders they are standing on. Without guys like Mr. Belefonte most of us would not be in the positions we are in today. Especially those of us in the entertainment realm. Every last one of our grandparents would want to see us treat him with the dignity and respect he not only deserves but has earned because he was the one who fought to make it possible for the rest of us to demand that type of respect. Just saying.