For the People or For Themselves?
Written by: J. Stokes – December 13, 2016
We start today’s blog post with mention of a widely known rapper/hip-hip artist who goes by the name of Nas. He has composed great music over the years such as “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That),” and is the artist behind Illmatic, which many consider to be one of the greatest rap albums of all time. Nas is well respected in the hip-hop community around the globe, with some mainstream rappers today, such as J Cole, asserting he was their inspiration for pursuing hip-hop music. Adding to this, the man is now a venture capitalist who has worked with the likes of Hennessey and Fila, Inc. These many accomplishments could definitely go to one’s head, resulting in narcissism or greed. Nevertheless, Nas seems unaffected.
For this holiday season, Nas has created his own line of Christmas sweaters for sale.
These sweaters consist of a Black Santa Claus taking a knee, which many believe mimics San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has similarly done so in his controversial protest of the national anthem during NFL football games. While this can be seen as a unique marketing scheme, these sweaters are intended to do much more than add to the rapper’s list of businesses. It has been reported that some of the proceeds will go to a non-profit called Center for Court Innovation, which helps with prison reform. So there you have it, a big time artist who hasn’t forgotten about those who are less fortunate. And while some of you may believe supporting a non-profit is a possible tax write-off, let’s not forget who Nas decided to help fund. He could’ve donated to services like Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary, Inc. if having a tax write-off was the goal.
Nas and his generosity is a topic that can lead to many additional conversations. One possible discussion could center on this idea of celebrities supporting communities, whether it be theirs or someone else’s.
Moreover, one could ask if it is necessary for them to give back. Do celebrities have an obligation to support those who support them? One possible argument against this could be that celebrities, at least those who inhabit the U.S., have the right to do whatever they want with their earnings. They worked hard to obtain their current status, after all. Why should others be rewarded; especially those who haven’t put in as much effort? For example, the infamous Beyoncé Knowles-Carter once stated that she had to lose 60 pounds and adhere to a strict diet and exercise program a few months after giving birth to her first child so that she could properly perform at concerts. How many of you out there have that kind of dedication to a craft?
On the other hand, the impact of celebrities giving back could potentially create change at multiple levels of society. To further illustrate this point, we give you the Ecological Model:
Ecological Models focus on both individual-level and population-level determinants of health and interventions. In other words, health and well-being has multiple levels of influence. Five levels of influence are shown in the picture above as well as the entities that fall under each individual level. When a celebrity such as Nas supports a group like Center for Court Innovation, many changes can occur that lead to a more productive, positively shaped society of individuals. Let’s walk through some steps for more of an understanding. When Nas gives money to support prison reform he is effectively helping to impact the Institutional Factors level of the Ecological Model. Incarceration centers (i.e. jails and detainment facilities) and courtrooms are both institutions found in a community of people. Outside funding could help enhance and create services needed in these institutions. One possible service is cultural competency courses for police officers. Having enough money to properly educate police about the neighborhoods they patrol, as well as the existing cultures within those neighborhoods, could help with community-police relations. This, in turn, would affect the Community Factors level since relationships would be improved among police, who act as an extension of incarceration centers and courtrooms, and other institutions found in a community of people. Moreover, both the Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Processes and Primary Groups levels would be impacted, since culturally competent behaviors from police officers could lead to less hostility from people who inhabit those communities being patrolled.
A case could also be made that Nas’s contributions to Center for Court Innovation could have a tremendous impact at the Public Policy level of the Ecological Model, but we’ll get into the role of policy in another post… Ultimately, America allows people to have their own freedoms (or so we believe). If that is truly the case, then celebrities should be able to choose whether or not philanthropy is their calling. Nevertheless, as was shown in this post, contributions to certain groups of people found in the U.S. have the potential to impact many levels of a society. Multiple levels found in an Ecological Model can potentially effect celebrities as well. All in all, Nas has never shied away from trying to help people. Maybe more artists and celebrities should take a look at the Ecological Model and decide for themselves if donating to certain human rights causes is the way to go.
**Let us know what you thought about today’s post. What are your thoughts on celebrities giving back to the community??