Monday, April 10, 2006

Keep on giving them hell, Harry.

From Black Commentator:

By some time in the late 1950s, before I was ten years old and without knowing what most of the words meant, I had memorized my child's version of Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat" song along with a couple others on his Calypso album. As many times as I heard those songs, I am certain my parents wore out the vinyl. But mid-century electronics geek that my dad was, he pumped a lot of his favorite music through a suitcase-sized reel to reel tape recorder. Harry was in a lot of those mixes too.

Belafonte is a creative artist, an entrepreneur and public intellectual in the finest sense of those words, and a human rights activist of long standing. Like Ruby Dee and the late Ossie Davis, Harry was a confidante of both Martin Luther King and of Malcolm X. That makes him one of the last surviving flesh and blood links to that piece of our histories, but Mr. Belafonte has always been about way more than showing up at the right place and time.

This year Belafonte led a fact finding delegation to Venezuela of more than a dozen U.S. activists and notables including Cornel West, Danny Glover of TransAfrica and Tavis Smiley during which he raised the ire of the corporate press back home.

For our money, Harry speaks for more African Americans on more issues than any of the black mayors we can think of. But in a time when the Wall Street Journal can blithely declare black public opinion illegitimate because most whites may not agree with it, nobody should be surprised by the corporate press's attempts to denigrate and dismiss Belafonte. Our reader email on the subject indicates that savvy BC readers are not surprised either.

Dear BC,

Harry Belafonte got it right when he announced, in company of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, that "George W. Bush is the greatest terrorist in the world." Wasn't it Martin Luther King that once said, "The greatest purveyor of violence on earth is my own government?" Belafonte might have added that the president is a liar and "un criminal de guerre" - a war criminal as well.

The press pirates have denounced him as a "has been" and a traitor, bashing the USA. But when did criticizing government policy become anti-American? Just when did truth become treasonous, anyhow?


Harry Belafonte is an esteemed elder, one of the tallest trees in the forest. Beside him, this president is a shrub. A bush.

Dear BC,

I'm a middle-aged working-poor white male (though I'm not necessarily without formal education, I live in Pittsburgh and vote across party lines).

I have paid attention to the multiple controversies over Belafonte's statements the past months. Via the Crooks 'n Liars web site I just viewed the recent Harry Belafonte/Wolf Blitzer interview on CNN - twice. Belafonte is absolutely correct in his basic points and observations, as far as I can tell. So, I googled "Harry Belafonte e-mail" to tell him what I think. Your site was near the top of the list. With a name like "Black Commentator" I thought I might be able to write to Belafonte through you.

You just keep going Harry. And thank you. You are reminding us of what America is really supposed to be about. I hope you continue to speak out, and hope you continue to get exposure in the corporate media. Your responses to Blitzer were unlike anything I see from the usual talking heads. Bravo! I agree. And if I do, others do too.
I hope he reads this.

We do too. And we hope Belafonte is around for many more years to come. Keep on giving them hell, Harry.