Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar captured headlines for their recent performances at Super Bowl 50 and at this year’s Grammys, where they made powerful statements on issues related to the fight for social justice in America.
Both of their performances have resulted in social media erupting in a debate over the consciousness of popular entertainers using their platforms to address critical issues that impact the African-American community.
Kelly Carter, Senior Writer for ESPN’s Undefeated and Amish Baraka, Founder of ForthDistrict.com joined Roland Martin on NewsOne Now to discuss Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar using bright lights and big stages to speak to Black issues.
Carter told Martin that Beyonce using her stardom to shine a light on African-American issues, “says a lot because she’s such a mainstream crossover performer.”
She continued, “That’s why we saw a lot of digs and pokes” being aimed at her after her Super Bowl 50 performance of “Formation.” Saturday Night Live even got in on the joke through a skit where White people were saying “I don’t understand this, I thought Beyonce made music for us.”
Carter also believes Beyonce using her platform is significant because “we’ve often heard of reports of her and Jay-Z donating secretly to the [social justice] movement significant amounts of money, but to see her use her artwork and do very visual, striking images from New Orleans and Katrina and the young boy dancing in front of police officers — I think it really meant a lot.”
Amish Baraka agreed with Carter adding celebrities using their platforms shows that major artists are willing to “take the risk and not necessarily pander to a majority White audience.”
He continued, “there’s reward socially from their fanbases. There’s also reward emotionally, I’m sure, but there also could be a financial reward in being able to communicate this Black conscious thought in music.”
Though Baraka looks favorably upon artists using their celebrity to address Black issues, he cautioned, “anything that becomes celebrated within mainstream culture has the potential to be hijacked by opportunists and culture vultures.”
Watch Roland Martin, Kelly Carter, and Amish Baraka discuss mainstream celebrities using their platforms to address issues important to the African American community in the video clip above.
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