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Houston, Beyoncé, and the Black Community

The devastation of Hurricane Harvey hit too close to home. I have friends in Texas, one specifically in Houston. I, like many people, wanted to help and wanted others to do the same. I was happy to hear that celebrities like Kevin Hart were challenging others to contribute to the cause, but I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to see more people in the forefront, specifically Houston natives like Beyoncé.

Am I the only one who expected to hear from Beyoncé after Hurricane Harvey? Was it too much to expect her to put people in formation to help with her beloved hometown? Do celebrities have the obligation to lead reconstructive efforts in the wake of tragedy, or is it easier for us to place the onus on them so we can feel better about ourselves?

I had to check myself. I also had to do some research because I’m not a Beyoncé fan, so I wouldn’t really know much about what she does off the stage. To my surprise, Beyoncé has a history of quietly pouring into charitable efforts so much so that she was considered the most charitable celebrity of 2016 by With Hurricane Harvey specifically, her BeyGood Houston organization partnered with Bread of Life, Greater Houston Community Foundation, and Texas Southern University to help families and individuals who have lost everything with immediate and long term needs. There’s even a rumor circulating that she may have given as much as $7 million to help with revitalization.

I then had to ask myself, why did I expect to see Beyoncé in the forefront in the first place? How much of this work should be publicized to show other’s the way? Why wouldn’t Beyoncé want to promote this narrative, so others don’t create their own? In a nation where narratives for Blacks have been created by others, why not take advantage of the opportunity to write your own story so our community can benefit from a notable example? Maybe if we sit back and take notes, we could learn a few things from Beyoncé that would benefit our community long term.

  1. Everything doesn’t have to be publicized. In the age of social media, we are living as if it doesn’t count unless it’s posted. Beyoncé has been giving locally, nationally, and internationally to causes and needs for the last decade. More importantly, she does this genuinely and not for the public eye. If Beyoncé devoted her time to documenting, she wouldn’t have time to be Beyoncé. She is involved in charity because it’s needed. Imagine a community where people started doing things, just ‘cause, without needing public documentation or credit.

  2. There’s more than one way to get things done, despite everyone’s opinion. If you give $7million, someone will ask why you didn’t give $10 million. If you tweet about one charity, someone will say another charity is better. We stopped letting people live, and started feeling entitled to tell people how. In the Black community, this is one of the biggest impediments in our efforts to unite. We rather scrutinize another plan instead of accepting that there are multiple ways to one destination. Beyoncé could very well promote her charity efforts so that others see giving back is just as important as making it big, but she chooses not to, and that is also fine. There’s nothing wrong with letting people do things their way, and offering our support when asked. Some people talk about things and never do anything. The key is to make sure you’re doing something, and not waiting for a tragedy.

  3. Check yourself first. I’m talking to myself here too. With the ability to see everyone’s life on social networks, post about our own, and comment on everything, we have to make sure that we check ourselves before pointing the fingers at others. We are so quick to comment on what celebrities should and shouldn’t be speaking out about without evaluating the last time we supported a cause, donated clothing, dedicated time, or spoke out on an issue. If we scrutinized ourselves as much as we pointed fingers at others, we’d have a noteworthy society. Within the Black community, and every community, everyone has a role to play, so ask yourself, are you playing yours? Who are you helping?

Tragedies like this one are reminders of the fact it takes a village, and we all have a part to play from our families to the nation as a whole. Let’s point less fingers and take more action.

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