“A tree is best measured when it is down,” the poet Carl Sandburg once observed, “and so it is with people.” The recent death of Harry Belafonte at the age of 96 has prompted many assessments of what this pioneering singer-actor-activist accomplished in a long and fruitful life.
Belafonte’s career as a ground-breaking entertainer brought him substantial wealth and fame; according to Playbill magazine, “By 1959, he was the highest paid Black entertainer in the industry, appearing in raucously successful engagements in Las Vegas, New York, and Los Angeles.” He scored on Broadway, winning a 1954 Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical – John Murray Anderson's Almanac. Belafonte was the first Black person to win the prestigious award. A 1960 television special, “Tonight with Belafonte,” brought him an Emmy for Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series, making him the first Black person to win that award. He found equal success in the recording studio, bringing Calypso music to the masses via such hits as “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and “Jamaica Farewell.”
Harry Belafonte - Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) (Live)www.youtube.com
Belafonte’s blockbuster stardom is all the more remarkable for happening in a world plagued by virulent systemic racism. Though he never stopped performing, by the early 1960s he’d shifted his energies to the nascent Civil Right movement. He was a friend and adviser to the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. and, as the New York Times stated, Belafonte “put up much of the seed money to help start the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was one of the principal fund-raisers for that organization and Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that “he helped launch one of Mississippi’s first voter registration drives and provided funding for the Freedom Riders. His activism extended beyond the U.S. as he fought against apartheid alongside Nelson Mandela and Miriam Makeba, campaigned for Mandela’s release from prison, and advocated for famine relief in Africa.” And in 1987, he received an appointment to UNICEF as a goodwill ambassador.
Over a career spanning more than seventy years, Belafonte brought joy to millions of people. He also did something that is, perhaps, even greater: he fostered the hope that a better world for all could be created. And, by his example, demonstrated how we might go about bringing that world into existence.
Elon Musk Settled with the SEC, But He's Still the Worst
Enough with the Elon Musk hero worship.
A World Economic Forum survey found that Millennials consider Elon Musk to be the third-most admirable public figure in the world, finally confirming, once and for all, that Millenials are the worst.
If you haven't read Rolling Stone's bleak profile of Musk yet, don't bother. The experience is kind of like watching a mashup of all the sad parts of Spike Jonze's her; entertaining, but you're left feeling like you need a shower. The piece presents readers with an emotionally stunted, socially bizarre man, who finds solace only in the possibilities of technology. I am not implying that I think Elon Musk would fuck a Tesla; but I'm not not.
The latest mess up in a string of blunders that the New York Times recently called Elon Musk's " No Good, Very Bad Year" is the result of one fateful tweet.
The Security and Exchange Commission sued Musk for making
"false and misleading" statements to investors. It turned out Musk had not actually secured the funding mentioned in the Tweet. The SEC elaborated, "In truth and in fact, Musk had not even discussed, much less confirmed, key deal terms, including price, with any potential funding source." People on Pinterest probably didn't realize when they re-pinned Musk's inspirational quote, "Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time," what Musk meant by that was: "Just lie."
While the flamethrower-making, weed-smoking entrepreneur is popular among a generation of people desperate for a role model as uncomfortable with human contact as they are, Musk's online bluff didn't go over well with investors. The SEC claims that the Tweet and subsequent tweets from Musk over the next several hours caused "significant confusion and disruption in the market for Tesla's stock." After Musk's tweet, Tesla's stock shot up nearly 9% but then dropped more than 11% in after-hours trading Thursday.
As a result of the complaint, the Iron Man-wanna-be agreed Saturday to step down as chairman of Tesla and pay a $20 million fine to settle the charges. According to CNN, once the settlement is approved in courts, "Musk will be allowed to stay as CEO but must leave his role as chairman of the board within 45 days. He cannot seek reelection for three years, according to court filings."
Whether the now infamous August 7th Tweet was a poorly executed PR move, Musk had a secret source of funding for privatizing the company, or the technicians at Tesla just forgot to update his software and caused him to glitch, Musk has denied any wrongdoing on his part. He responded to the complaint in a statement saying, "This unjustified action by the SEC leaves me deeply saddened and disappointed, I have always taken action in the best interests of truth, transparency and investors. Integrity is the most important value in my life and the facts will show I never compromised this in any way." We can only assume the transparency he refers to is that which he exhibited in a May 2018 conference call, when he called an analyst's inquiry about Tesla's finances a "boring bonehead question" and refused to answer.
Urban Dictionary Trolling Musk's August 7th Tweet
To add further interest to the disintegration of America's favorite Robot with feelings, rapper Azealia Banks is now claiming that Musk was on acid at the time of the Tweet. She stated, in the best series of quotes to ever grace the internet, "I waited around all weekend while grimes coddled her boyfriend for being too stupid to know not to go on twitter on acid," Banks wrote, concluding that, "it was probably some weird threesome sex shit to begin with."
This writer would be shirking her journalistic responsibility to the truth if she didn't include that Banks said of Musk, "He's not cute at all in person." Musk has denied that he was on drugs at the time of the Tweet and would probably want to add that he is actually very handsome - and he's definitely cool enough to take acid if he felt like it.
Perhaps Musk's recently self-diagnosed " severe emotional pain" is to blame for his string of strange behaviors. After reading any of Musk's recent interviews in which he seems to be actively spiraling - even once asking the interviewer, "Is there anybody you think I should date?"- it can be easy to feel bad for him. But, when the pity starts to creep in, just remember: he recently bought his fifth multi-million dollar home within a one mile radius of his four other multi-million dollar homes; he goes on Trump-style "fake news" Twitter rants anytime anything negative is written about him or his companies; his girlfriend creepily wore a collar shaped like the Tesla logo to the Met ball; and he unjustly called one of the divers that rescued the trapped Thai soccer team a pedophile. So save your sympathy for, well, literally anyone else.
Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.