Jay-Z is Not Your Savior: Celebrities and Our Need to Use Them as Our Moral Compass

By DaiJhah Owens

Social media has been in an uproar….again! More specifically, black social media users. Most of us have heard about the deal Jay-Z signed with the NFL and the uproar/debate that followed within the black community and media. However, this blog post is not a discussion about whether I agree with Jay-Z’s business choices (that is a post for another day). I’d like to discuss, why do we look to celebrities as our guiding light as to what is right or wrong?

This question has been on my heart since the news of Jay-Z’s decision broke. I started to think, “Why do we get so up in arms about the lives and decisions of celebrities? Is it because of their status and influence? Is it because of the amount of money and success they have?” I believe there are a lot of reasons behind this, but the one most prominent reason (in my opinion) is pervasive mental laziness. We want EVERYTHING through easy access, spoon fed to us right on a paper plate (so we don’t have to wash dishes after, of course.) This includes the issues we should care about and the work we should be doing to reconcile these issues.

For so long, we have put normal humans on moral pedestals and used them to think for us. If Jay-Z says this is a good move for the black community, then it is, end of discussion. If T.I. says we should boycott Gucci for 5 minutes, then we should. We’re going to ‘follow the leader’ ourselves to death! It’s as if we say to ourselves, “This person must have done something right in life! They must be mentally superior because how else did they get rich?I mean, in this world, wealth is the peak of success, so they must be leading us down the right path.” Sarcasm aside, it’s truly a bizarre line of thinking when you really dissect it.

I don’t solely blame celebrities for this. We all have a part to play. They are simply operating within the system we created for them. The power, the influence, the pedestal; we gave it to them to wield whenever and however they see fit. Those who were upset with Jay-Z’s decision, my question to you is this:  “What exactly did you expect? Were you following his good deeds and applauding along the way? Did he later do something you feel to be wrong and now your heart is broken? Why? If you agreed with his decision, why? Can you articulate your views without regurgitating speaking points that have already been said?

Call me a cynic, but I tend to believe anyone, no matter how rich and successful, is capable of anything! You know why? Because we’re humans. I’m not saying don’t be fans of celebrities or agree/disagree with their words or actions. I am saying we need to be critical and thoughtful consumers. If there is an issue that you care about and you feel like not enough “prominent” people are speaking on it, you need to continue to speak up. Don’t wait for a famous person to declare it an issue. We have to exercise our brains and stop allowing ourselves to be easily swayed by others.

After all, it’s hard to follow someone who wasn’t meant to lead you in the first place!

DaiJhah Owens is a Contributing Writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. DaiJhah is passionate about shifting political power to oppressed groups through education. She believes there is nothing more powerful than an educated black woman who can smell political BS a mile away! Connect with her on Instagram at @d_nakhole!

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