Let’s just get to it! Harry Belafonte went straight up OG and named names when he said that black celebrities weren’t doing enough for minorities. I’m including the entire interview because he had a lot of interesting and great things to say; things that we talk about here at DR all the time.
Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesHarry Belafonte
At the Locarno Film Festival to pick up the Golden Leopard Honor Award, the singer and actor also talks about his fears of a Fourth Reich and why Mitt Romney shouldn’t be president.
Harry Belafonte, at 85, is as active and activist as ever. At the Locarno Film Festival, despite walking with a stick, he couldn’t be kept from introducing the films the festival screened in his honor, especiallyOtto Preminger’s Carmen Jones, which he said “put me most on the map of the world.” Belafonte at one point called himself “the greatest actor in the world who always pretended to be a singer.“
The festival’s career honor is only his second-ever acting award, so Belafonte said he regarded it as a sign of “global recognition“ of his political activism, which was evident as he used the occasion to take a stand against unbridled capitalism and talk about his new film projects, one of them about the Arab Spring.
The Hollywood Reporter talked with Belafonte about his activism, views on U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney and what he sees as this age’s biggest enemy.
The Hollywood Reporter: Your acting career is less known than your singing career. What does an Honor Award from a film festival mean to you?
Harry Belafonte: Such awards, coming from culture and societies where I do not linger, are a validation that there was a global receptivity to the fact that I have taken a stand against war, taken a stand against racism, sexism and so on, throughout the years. While at home some people would want to crucify me because of my political position, I am also being honored for what I do, and that validation is extremely important.
THR: Has the world changed for activists like you?
Belafonte: Definitely. Back then, the enemies were very clear, very precise. It is easy to fight oppression if it comes in [the form of] a swastika and a boot, and as a dictator, and you can see it and feel it and touch it. It is easy when there is a sign that says “No N—–s“ or “No Jews.“ Where it becomes the most insidious is when it buries itself and you can no longer touch it but can taste that yet it is there, fully blown, doing insane mischief. That is why I think the period now is the most challenging I’ve ever lived in. The power in many societies has become almost absolute. Those who have the power in the free-enterprise system start to crush societies and create wars that are unholy. What we did during the Bush period, what we still continue to do, even with Barack Obama, is the continuency of not changing the paradigm, of not changing the view. We still have laws that encourage torture, we did not change Guantanamo, we have laws that allow the police to arrest you at any time, not having to tell you why, and take you wherever they want. This kind of capitalism is taking us to the doorstep of [a] Fourth Reich, I think.
THR: Would you want Mitt Romney to become the next U.S. president?
Belafonte: Only if I would like to see the end of civilization. No, absolutely not. Mitt Romney is not my cup of tea at all.
THR: Can you pin down what the enemy is nowadays?
Belafonte: Unbridled capitalism. The concentration of money in the hands of a very small group is the most dangerous thing that has ever happened to civilization. We are facing an oligarchy of force. Just look at who controls the press. We all witnessed how money and power squeezed out all essense ofRupert Murdoch and [Silvio] Berlusconi. Thank God for social media, which aids transparency. But even that becomes more and more restricted now, with companies like Facebook buying up all the roots of this technology. But I am currently involved with two documentaries, one Leadbelly: Legend, Life, Legacy and the other Another Night in the Free World, which I am shooting now for about five months. It is globally looking at the youth movement during the the Arab Spring, looking at what happened in Cairo and Tunisia and now in Syria.
THR: Back to the occasion of the award for your acting career. Are you happy with the image of members of minorities in Hollywood today?
Belafonte: Not at all. They have not told the history of our people, nothing of who we are. We are still looking. We are not determinated. We are not driven by some technology that says you can kill Afghans, the Iraqis or the Spanish. It is all — excuse my French — shit. It is sad. And I think one of the great abuses of this modern time is that we should have had such high-profile artists, powerful celebrities. But they have turned their back on social responsibility. That goes for Jay-Z andBeyonce, for example. Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you’re talking. I really think he is black.
The Daily Mail covered this and they tried to defend BeyJey or as I’ve been calling them lately CSquared (Clown plus Camel equal Csquared).
However, while Belafonte didn’t hold back with his comments about Beyoncé and Jay-Z, the couple both do a lot to use their profiles in the name of charity.
Beyoncé recently announced that she would be donating the proceeds of her album track I Was Here to World Humanitarian Day.
The Grammy-award winner singer will film a video for the track at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York City in front of a live audience on August 19.
‘We all see the headlines and we think what can I really do to help?’, she said.
‘World Humanitarian Day is an opportunity for all of us to work together to make a difference. This is our time to leave our mark on the world and show that we were here and we care.’
The campaign website which launched yesterday, encourages people to share their acts of good will, in the hope the message will reach someone.
Meanwhile, Jay-Z also has his own charitable foundation called the Shawn Carter Foundation.
Through the charity, the singer helps ‘individuals facing socio-economic hardships further their education’.
Both Beyoncé and Jay-Z also use their names to help draw attention to charitable causes.
Oh, wow, let’s roll out the Humanitarian of the Millennium Awards for one Camel and Clown! Yes, let us applause profusely about the fact that she’s donating a song about self-adulation and how fabulous she is (as if we needed the reminder) from an abum that couldn’t even sell two million at home with the same “inspirational” track that was on there to begin with. And let’s not leave Humps out, the man who couldn’t be bothered to donate more than six thousand dollars to his own charity,
The DM missed the point about what Belefonte was saying. He was saying it’s not enough to lend your face to a cause just because some cameras are around. People in his day evoked change by going hardcore. Especially black celebrities. This is not to say they were super perfect and always got it right. But this was a man who along with many others, stood for something and proved it by getting in the trenches and on the lines where they could be hurt or even killed to demand justice and equality for all Americans. No make, up Occupy Wall Street t-shirts and try to sell them for 30 bucks a pop for a profit (I mean he wasn’t even going donate those proceeds to the cause!).
I’m not sure if I agree with Bruce Springsteen being considered black, but I will say that he does use his celebrity, talents, and voice for the stuff believes in . And i personally don’t think that just because one is rich means they have to feel bad about it, but I do believe when you make your money off of people as an entertainer, and especially within the black community, then some social genuine concern and social responsibility is a must. Actually, that should be for everyone no matter what the pay grade is. We should all be coming together to take back our country and the rights our ancestors worked so hard for us to get.And if along the way we regain some integrity and a sense of morality, then we”re already winning half the battle.