Jay-Z and Beyoncé please own up to how you may have had a negative impact on large segments of the younger black community.
I know that a lot of my followers are probably not going to want to read this post. The Jay-Z and Beyoncé fandom is strong in my network. But I would rather lose a few followers than to compromise what I believe to be the truth on any day of the week.
Jay-Z and Beyoncé have both been high profile figures in the black community for 15 to 20 years now. That is nearly a generation of influence.
Ever since Jay-Z and Beyoncé had a child it seems that they have been taking more progressive steps as a couple. For one, they both have taken a much more noticeable role in the 2012 election campaign than they did in 2008. Jay-Z seems to be putting forth a message to younger black people that they should be more business-minded and professional. Beyoncé has shown girls that establishing their career, getting married and THEN having kids is the ideal route. I appreciate all of that. Those messages are very much needed.
But I wonder when are Jay-Z and Beyoncé going to own up to the role that they both played in the current state of affairs in the black community?
I still remember when Jay-Z first appeared on a song with Biggie Smalls, which I believe helped to propel his rap career. Back then he spent a whole lot of time rapping about slinging crack and disrespecting women. He bragged incessantly about the things that he had which the poor black kids in his old community could never afford in 1 million years. He gave a lot of young black boys the idea that they could grow up, become crack dealers for a while and then become as successful as he is with plenty of expensive clothes, cars and jewelry. To this day he still puts out songs with these types of messages.
Beyoncé started off her career with songs like Bootylicious and Bills Bills Bills. Beyoncé then transitioned into a hyper-sexual entertainer who Booty-shook her way to the Grammys and great success. Her performances and outfits were not very different from exotic dancing. She, like her husband, sang songs full of verses where she bragged about name brand items like Audemar watches and designer clothing. When a young impressionable mind hears a name brand quoted by her favorite artist, she is more likely to not only learn about the item but also struggle to have one too. Just one Audemar watch (retailing for up to $40,000) could probably fill a needy neighborhood school with books or computers. While Beyoncé seems to be a very lovely lady in other respects, I cannot ignore the bad influence that she may have had on countless young black girls who aspired to be like her.
These two have been role models for MANY young black kids -- many of whom are now grown and suffering. Those black boys who thought they could be as successful as Jay-Z by dealing crack on the streets are mostly now either in jail or dead. Many of those young girls who thought that they could booty shake their way to success like Beyoncé are now either stripping, aspiring to be video models, or whoring themselves in other ways for the attention of men. They did not get the bank account and doting husband that their idol, Beyonce did. Instead they received the "hard knock life."
|Black children need role models that not only entertain, but also encourage them to be great.|
When I log onto social media I see black media outlets continually praising these two people as if they suddenly descended from heaven. No -- they have been here for many, many years and both have made questionable choices in the name of success, fame and money.
Now that they have it, are we all supposed to just forget how it happened? Are we supposed to forget their influence on the black community to love money, fame, sex and drugs above all other things?
The mainstream media does us a disservice as well. Forbes recently published a list of the top 10 most powerful black women in the world. They listed Beyoncé as the third most powerful black woman in the world behind First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey simply because she entertains. If you look at the description of Beyonce's accomplishments it's very light compared to that of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the President of Liberia, who appears lower on the list. With this type of influence coming in from the media it is not surprising that our young people are very confused. We teach them to praise superficial accomplishments.
Just Own Up to It
I would like to fully get behind Jay-Z and Beyonce as a black power couple now that they are putting out a positive, progressive influence. But I just can not do so until they first own up to the widespread negative influences they may have had on the black community in the past. The same goes for other black media "moguls" like Russell Simmons and 50 Cent who seem to be trying to reinvent themselves as community crusaders.
Everyone makes mistakes. I sure have - I do not claim to be perfect in any way. But when you are a high profile couple like Jay-Z and Beyonce I think you really do need to make amends for those mistakes. If you have such a far-reaching presence it is criminal not to publicly own up to how your past influences may have had an effect on the present. It may or may not save the adults in the black community who have already bought into the hype, but at least it would give the young people a fresh start and a new perspective on what is truly important in life.