Yesterday I heard Harry Belafonte speak about he and his daughter living with Dyslexia, and following his speech I watched the coolest thing happen. He was being ushered out of the building to go to his next event, and upon seeing me there with my two sons Myles 11 and Malcolm 10 he stopped, pulled them to the side and had a 15 minute conversation with them. Some of it was about my son’s Dyslexia, but much of it was just elder to young person engagement. The boys had heard of him, but didn’t know the significance of the encounter from a historical perspective. But they got it. They got it because they didn’t need to know his resume to feel his spirit. They responded to this old dude who seems really cool and was willing to stop and talk to us, unprompted.

But there is more. Yesterday on the way up to the conference, me and the boys watched Jay Z’s Picasso Baby HBO special. While watching it the boy were interested in who are all these people partying with Jay Z, and while the boys know a little about art, they were introduced to new artists and more important, pop cultures embrace of fine arts (which is not new, but definitely not what our kids see in the main stream).  Ok Jeff…….Whats the point.

Here it is. Within 24 hours, my boys were separately and equally inspired by two black men who have been somewhat beefing; not about if to give back, but how and also how to talk to and about each other. This inter-generational duo could be appreciating each other for what they do vs. being in a public debate. But don’t we see this all over the place.

Inter-generational disconnect is not new or specific to the black community. However, our inter-generational strife cripples us in ways other communities are not affected. Whether it is the lack of honor for elders in our families or the inability to embrace young, proven leadership in our organizations, politics and even churches. We have not embraced the word that said “he called the young because they were strong and the old because they know the way”.

This is bigger than Jay and Mr. B, but there is a lesson. Elders, please understand that you do know the way. Be patient with those you see potential in; pull us to the side and talk with us. Protect us from old people who are haters even while you give us tough love through accountability. Young soldiers…be willing to listen. Know the difference between the elders and the old people and embrace and respect the former. Wisdom doesn’t beat strength, it perfects it. Family we need each other now more than ever. Elders, you should have a team of young people you feed. Young people….you should have a team of elders you seek wisdom from. Fight each other and watch our destiny float way. Roll together and watch us win.

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9 thoughts on “End the Beef Jay Z & Harry Belafonte

  1. silkwurm on said:

    JayZ’s comments ARE pretty arrogant – but what do we expect from someone who has been calling himself Hova for the last decade or so? I want to know why we are scrutinizing the lack of support we get from our President – yano, an elected official’s who’s actual job IS to lift the standards of the people who almost unanimously (as a collective group) supported him.

    The Black unemployment rate is the highest its ever been, none of the social ills that have consistently plagued our communities for over 30 years now have in anyway been addressed. Isn’t our President the the man who said ‘God Bless Planned Parenthood” you know, the organization founded by a known racist (the bia who said “black people are like human weeds”), responsible for almost half of the AA population being exterminated? He’s doing more for the Homosexual community and undocumented workers that he’s done for black people…

    So an illegal alien can get a drivers license w/out a green card…let’s see a black man who owes so much as 1 cent of child support pull that off.. jus’ sayin – at the end of the day J.Z is just a rapper, Barack Obama is the Leader of the Free World…

  2. Natedogii on said:

    You know every day I pray to GOD to be a better person before I leave my home most of the day I fail sooner or later
    but you know he let’s me try one more day!

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  4. The main reason I refused to buy anything Jay & Bey sell is because you never hear of them giving back. I can’t count the number of times I heard Bey say how blessed she is to be doing what she loved. I just don’t know how they both justify doing nothing for the communities they come from. Jay gave 6k to charity in 2010 when forbes reporting him making 83mil. Know I now these stars publicist inflat numbers but even if he made half that giving only 6k to charity is a sin. U have white stars who continue to help with the rebuilding efforts in the LA/MS while hip hop entertainers make it rain tens of thousands in strip clubs.

  5. Blakgod on said:

    Mr. Johnson,
    I can appreciate where you are coming from. But Jay Z’s efforts to enlighten the youth are weak and sparse to begin with. He is about himself. Period.

    Belafonte is a man whose work and sacrifice speaks to all but the mentally dead. I am not always in agreement with him but he is far and away an example for our people, as opposed to Jay Z. Belafonte has earned the right to admonish Jay Z or any other entertainers who have benefited from his struggle and the paths he blazed. Do not act like Mr. Carter is a kid. He is a 40+ year old man that, for the most part, promotes materialism and death with his so called art. If he was still a teenager you might be right to say Belafonte was too hard in him. That is not the case.

    There is no “beef”. The two men are not on the same level. Jay Z should already know that he is not worthy to be compared as a man or an artist to Harry Belafonte. Just looking at what Belafonte accomplished in the first 40 years of his life, not to mention the last 40, likely dwarfs anything Jay Z will do before he dies.

    Not long ago, Spike Lee was highly critical of Quentin Tarantino and his movie Django. Lee’s criticism was highly controversial. He was called a hater, a Tom, and many other awful names. But, as one commentator pointed out, Spike Lee’s love for black people is clear and should not be questioned. Too many of us were quick to dismiss him offhand. One of those who was hard on Spike was Dick Gregory.

    Mr. Gregory, like Belafonte, has a history that speaks for itself. Gregory and Belafonte are artists and activists who have sacrificed money and other things out of love for their people. (Is that remotely true for Jay Z?) Gregory was far harder on Spike Lee than Belafonte was on Jay Z. But did Spike Lee say anything in the way of disrespect to or about the great Dick Gregory? Did he call Gregory a “boy” and brag about his wealth? Jay Z proved that he was deserving of the rebuke Belafonte put on him. I think Belafonte was too easy on him. Basic respect for honored elders is a requirement no matter how big your bank account is. That is something Jay Z at 40 should have learned a long time ago.

    • hdwilson on said:

      Very well stated and written. I pray the day comes when Black folk will not have to speak so negatively about one another in the media.

      • Ivan Cohen on said:

        While I can understand the historic context, surely you are not suggesting that black folk have to walk on egg shells literally and figuratively speaking because of the other side (white folks) preception of airing dirty laundry. If it’s aired it stands a chance of getting washed. White folks don’t even bother to send theirs to the dry cleaners. They’d cash in with a “kiss and tell book” or flaunt their exploits on Dateline and 20/20.

    • 55th st silverbacks on said:

      MR JOHNSON I AGREE, and this is a learning curve for all. our culture is based on our elders and there wisdom translated down to us. the younger generation get there culture from videos and reality shows. the body of work shawn carter has given us speaks of his life and is powerful. he admits that the drug game is his source of wealth and connects it to OUR GOVERMENT. HE IS NOT A ROLE MODEL but he speaks to the youth even at 40 years of age. i am 40 plus and only after seeking the answers to unlock solutions to our social ills am i able to relate to OUR youth.

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