In light of the new film “Sing Your Song,” celebrating the life of activist and entertainment legend Harry Belafonte, Loop21.com posted a list of today’s most politically active Black celebrities.
I think it’s a pretty great list, even including Black celebs who engage in environmental activism like Aisha Tyler (although I don’t know how much I’d want to be on any list with Russell Simmons. Y’all like him though). The Mighty Mos Def turned Yasiin also makes the list and maybe we could’ve seen that coming even if we only saw this footage of him in New Orleans but there are a few others who are Black that often get left off of lists like this in favor of go-nowhere complaints about tight lipped Black athletes.
The list rightly notes that Ms. Oprah Winfrey is known for “keeping her political beliefs to herself” although she did take a “leap of faith” in endorsing Barack Obama for president. They failed to note that in the early years of her show, way before it was so popular, Oprah’s show was very political taking on issues like welfare.
What I think is important to remember about a list like this is Black celebrity activism need not be the measure of progress many look to it to be. Activism in the Black community at large will always be more important. Activism of everyday folks will always be more important.
“Sing Your Song,” which debuts tonight on HBO reminds me of an interview I saw with Harry Belefonte on Like It Is with Gil Noble or Democracy Now! where he was asked why more Black celebs don’t speak out and take action more. Belefonte himself said “That’s not the way they’re oriented. That’s not the people they are. They were never going to speak out even when they weren’t famous (paraphrase).”
So how are you oriented? What kind of person are you? What have you done to make this a better world for everyone? How did you decide to “Be The Change You Want To See” today?