10 Black Celebs Who Got Rich And Forgot That Race Matters
1# Pharrell Williams
has apparently linked his rise to fame to an entire new race of human beings. In a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey last month, the music star discussed his new hit song ”Happy“and defined himself as the “new Black.” Williams said, ‘The ‘new Black’ doesn’t blame other races for our issues. The ‘new Black’ dreams and realizes that it’s not a pigmentation; it’s a mentality. And it’s either going to work for you, or it’s going to work against you. And you’ve got to pick the side you’re gonna be on.” Pharrell’s comments caused an uproar on Twitter, with many critics pointing out that no matter how new his black is, most Black people still have to deal with the same old problems.
Kobe Bryant practically admitted he was out of touch with the Black community when sharing his views on the 2012 Trayvon Martin shooting.
In the April 4 issue of The New Yorker magazine, the Los Angeles Lakers basketball star was asked about the Miami Heat’s show of solidarity for Martin, the 17-year-old African-American shot to death in Florida by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Zimmerman, who is white, was acquitted last year of second degree murder of the teenager.
However, Bryant seemed to have issues with the idea that African-Americans should base their opinions on the race of the victim.
“I won’t react to something just because I’m supposed to, because I’m an African-American,” Bryant said. “That argument doesn’t make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we’ve progressed as a society? Well, we’ve progressed as a society, then don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’re African-American. You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right? So I won’t assert myself.”
After many people took to Twitter to express outrage at the comments and called for boycotts of Bryant’s jersey’s, shoes and other basketball products, Bryant backtracked, tweeting hours later:
“Travon (sic) Martin was wronged THATS my opinion and thats what I believe the FACTS showed. The system did not work #myopinion #tweetURthoughts.”
When actress Julianne Hough came under fire for wearing blackface with her Halloween costume last year, Tamar Braxton saw it all in good fun.
On VH1′s The Big Morning Buzz in Oct. 2013, the reality star defended Hough’s Halloween night portrayal of ”Orange Is the New Black” character Crazy Eyes (acted by Uzo Aduba).
“She doesn’t look African-American to me,” Braxton said. “She looks like me with a tan! …I mean,” she clarified, “I am African-American, but I’m just saying—like if you had four tans on top of each other—you know what I’m saying, like the spray tans? That’s what she looks like!”
“I think people are on team too much right now, cause it’s Halloween, and you should go dressed as you want to,” she continued. “Would you be offended if I wore a conehead and painted myself white? I mean, it’s not like you are trying to be racist or offensive or anything like that.”
4# Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman declared in an 2005 interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” that the only way to get rid of racism is to “stop talking about it.”
But that was not the first time the award-winning actor revealed his disapproval of Black people acknowledging race. In a 2011 BET interview Freeman was asked about the lack of African-American actors on stage at the Oscars, to which he responded:
“I think we need to get over that s***t. How many Chinese do you see? You don’t see them out marching and s***. Oh God, please. I think … We need to get over it, that’s all.”
5# Keyshia Cole
Keyshia Cole made the odd decision of not participating in “Black Girls Rock 2012″ because it somehow became unclear to her whether or not she’s actually a Black woman.
When she was interviewed by BET’s “106 & Park,” the singer admitted that even though she knew for sure her mother was Black, she wasn’t certain about the ethnic background of her father or even who he was, and that she might not be Black enough for the show.
“I’m biracial, but it’s okay. I’m Black,” she said.
6# Jay Z
When Jay Z’s collaboration with Barneys New York came under fire last year after reports surfaced that the retail store discriminates against Black shoppers, the veteran rapper decided against taking a strong stand against racism. Although there were petitions calling for him to back out of the collaboration, Jay Z refused to act decisively by first stalling, saying he needed more information, then moving forward with the Barney deal in exchange for more money for his charity and a seat on Barney’s “racial profiling” board. -
7# Michael Jordan
In 1990, during the height of Michael Jordan’s career, when he was arguably the most influential sports icon since Muhammad Ali, he was asked to take a stand against Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, a strident conservative who was seeking reelection and who was actively opposed to making Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday. Harvey Gantt, a Black Democrat and former mayor of Charlotte, was attempting to unseat Helms and asked M.J. to help lend a voice to his efforts. Jordan reportedly refused. LZ Granderson wrote in an ESPN article that Jordan told a friend he refused to speak out because “Republicans buy sneakers, too.” Because of his choice to protect his bottom line by remaining silent on issues that plague the Black community, Jordan will never be revered quite in the same way that Jim Brown, Bill Russell and, of course, Ali are, despite all that he has accomplished and given back. -
8# Stacey Dash
Stacey Dash has gone on record several times expressing views that many would consider out of touch with the Black community. During the 2012 presidential election, Dash was a vocal supporter of the Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, and she rushed to Paula Deen’s defense last year after the celebrity chef became embroiled in the “N-word” scandal. These acts don’t intrinsically put Dash in the racially unconscious category, but then the 46-year-old actress went on to blast Oprah Winfrey for drawing a parallel between the tragic murders of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and 14-year-old Emmett Till. “If you aren’t careful, The newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing ~ Malcolm X,” Dash tweeted, before adding, “Shame on you @oprah.” It’s not clear who Dash was implying were the “perpetrators of oppression” in the Martin and Till cases. -
9# L.L. Cool J
L.L. Cool J has had a 30 year rap career, but during those years he was not especially noted for racially conscious music. That’s probably why his guest appearance on Bryan Paisley’s 2013 song “Accidental Racist,” was a disaster. L.L. rapped, “If you don’t judge my do-rag/I won’t judge your red flag.” and “If you don’t judge my gold chains/I’ll forget the iron chains.” The song was highly criticized for its insensitivity and irresponsibility about race relations. For his role in the spectacle, the rap legend was blasted for oversimplifying the suffering Black people experienced under racial oppression. -
10# Kenan Thompson
Last year, at a time when the cast of Saturday Night Live had only four women of color over its 38 year history, cast member Kenan Thompson defended the NBC show’s lack of Black women.
Speaking to TVGuide, Thompson deflected blame for the show’s predominantly white cast onto the industry, identifying the lack of Black women among the cast as “just a tough part of the business. Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.”
In reference to the all-white new additions to the show that year, Thompson said, “They’re all contributing in different ways, I think. They’ve been doing great job so far. They’re all very, very smart and talented, so that’s how it is. That’s the kind of people, I guess, that get the job.”
SNL finally hired a Black female cast member in January 2014.