How Should A (Rich) Person Be?

Beyonce-Grown-Woman-video-608x458It’s always a pleasant surprise when the wealthiest of us do something impressive, yet low key, to help their fellow man — like wiring thousands of dollars to help get incarcerated protesters out on bail. “Beyoncé and Jay Z are quietly subsidizing legal fees for demonstrators arrested while protesting American police brutality.”

Complex has more details, as well as screenshots of now deleted Tweets:

The Decoded contributor also spoke openly about Jay Z‘s numerous private contributions to the resistance, indirectly confronting the constant flurry of detractors who repeatedly hurl claims of hypocrisy at Jay and Beyoncé surrounding their perceived silence on the issues surrounding Ferguson, Baltimore, and protests in general. In short, the Carters have — according to dream hampton — privately donated large amounts of money to ease the burden of posting bail for protestors, as well as other equally impactful donations that are simply “too much to list.”

I associate the reigning king and queen of pop more with Tidal waves and vegan proselytizing than with social justice. But apparently I shouldn’t.   

When rich and/or famous people do good deeds, there is often a Logan-Echolls-in-the-soup-kitchen smell to them. An action cannot be selfless, almost by definition, when the “self” involved is such a high-profile one. Many celebs understand that and work within those constraints, though some do it more cannily than others: consider the savvy way Angelina Jolie manages her image, including PR around her charity work, for example, vs someone like Gwyneth Paltrow.

Daily Kos pointed out in 2014 that Jay Z and Beyonce often use their powers for good, reminding readers that simply because we may not know about this power couple’s more magnanimous priorities doesn’t mean those priorities don’t exist.

Jay has paid and is still paying for the tuition of the children of NYPD shooting victim Sean Bell.

Quietly, Jay has given financially to people working on the ground in Ferguson.

Quietly, Jay has supported justice for those discriminated against in the trans community.

Jay has paid to send HUNDREDS of high school students, who, by the way, are very often on the margins of society and actually have to have a GPA of 2.7 or below, through college.

I was literally steps away from Jay Z and Beyonce at a rally for Trayvon in New York City. When they stepped on the scene, and the entire time they were there, they were all anyone cared about. The man on the mic at the time could’ve screamed “I have Ebola” and started spitting in every direction and people would’ve ignored him.

Instances like this, and dozens and dozens of others like it, seem to have caused Jay Z to feel that it’s in everybody’s best interest if he goes behind-the-scenes-incognito on his giving and his advocacy.

I believe that, and I really respect it. Also, I guess, we can take Jay Z at his word: “the greatest form of giving is anonymous to anonymous.

The rabbis agree with him:

Receiving mutually anonymous tzedakah takes much of the sting out of being on the receiving end. It is far better when we lend aid to others unconsciously — when we give ourselves over to others so completely that our egos merge with theirs, and neither is conscious of being in a superior or inferior position.

Such giving is the 2nd highest form of tzedakah — a word that means “charity” but also “righteousness,” the way a mitzvah is “a good deed” but also just a “commandment,” something one is required to do. The highest form of tzedakah is helping a person become self-sufficient, by enabling them to secure a job, for example. Maybe Bey and Jay do that too.



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