If you haven’t seen the above video, I suggest you watch it, ASAP. No really, stop reading and watch it. Then come back. I’ll be here I promise.
You watch it? Okay, now let’s talk.
I am a young, Black woman who tries to stay as socially conscious as possible. I don’t really like to watch the news often because it depresses me, but I make the time to stay aware, even if it’s through word of mouth or my iPhone’s CNN app. My point is that while I have a full plate of daily responsibility and no degree of fame, I make the time to keep my ear to the streets and fulfill my duty to be an informed citizen. But this is not the case for many of those who we give our money to in the form of television ratings, album purchases, and movie ticket sales. These celebrities who have media tools that their ancestors lacked and the world wide web at their disposal are failing miserably at doing what I think is their civic responsibility to stand for what’s right. Why? Because I’m a firm believer in the quote:
“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”
We’ll get back to the video later, for now, let’s talk about Oprah. Oprah Winfrey has had a very popular book club via the Oprah show and now via her website, together spanning almost 20 years of audience interaction. Many of the books receiving her stamp of approval became New York Times Best Sellers. Why?
What Winfrey says matters.
Similarly, her audience of all colors and creeds took a serious look at President Obama prior to his election when he was but a senator, once she endorsed him. Yet I am missing the presence of her voice in times like these. If she has made a statement in regards to our nation’s police brutality issues or the current state of racial upset our nation is experiencing please someone, let me know, because I missed it.
Is saying nothing the same as saying the “wrong” thing? Or is it okay to ignore the issues and not leverage the power she holds to raise awareness in ALL communities that ALL lives matter. Not her problem? What do you think?
What about all the celebrities who have posted photos of their hands in the air? Sure, it’s raising awareness. It puts the issues on the forefronts of our minds, but then what? How many of them actually posted meaningful words beneath those Instagram pictures or actually contacted a congressman to voice their concern?
Are there any who make an attempt to be the change they hope to see consistently advocating?
Or are they all band-wagon activists speaking up solely in response to new issues that help to gain them notoriety?
I am not saying that it is every celebrity’s job, Black, White, or indifferent, to play journalist and report the latest news to their fans while leading freedom marches everyday. But what I am saying is that is a gross amount of room for improvement. Tyler Perry has a great deal of wealth and a huge platform within television and cinematography. However, if you look at his body of work, where is the social consciousness? Comparing him to Spike Lee, which I can’t help but to do, there is very little awareness or mention of the real issues plaguing the Black community within Perry’s body of work.
It seems as if these celebrities who experience the same plight, more or less, as their Black counterparts, adopt a stoic level of complacency once a certain amount of fame is reached.
That is why I have a profound appreciation for Mr. Jermaine Cole, also known as the Roc Nation rapper J. Cole (the guy from the video clip above). While his body of work, akin to Lee’s, is not void of vulgar lyrics and women references, it does have the consistent tone of wanting better for the Black community and makes mention to many issues our race and these United States are currently facing.
So what do you think? Is it abuse or misuse for celebrities to mention, or fail to mention, social issues plaguing their respective communities? Though I focused on the Black community (forgive me, it’s close to home) it doesn’t matter if they’re from the Latino, Pacific Islander, or any other minority community, I’d love to hear your thoughts! #AbuseOrMisuse? Let me know!