If Harry Belafonte wanted to be associated with something more than “Day-O,” he’s gotten his wish. The Jamaican singer accused Secretary of State Colin Powell Tuesday of selling out and even went so far as to equate Powell with a house slave. Belafonte’s comments were not only stupid, but they also took aim at a man who has garnered much respect in the African-American and political communities.
Belafonte should not take shots at Powell. A decorated war hero, Powell has worked hard throughout his life, excelling in school, the military and the private sector and is the first African- American to serve on a presidential cabinet. His accomplishments have distinguished him in the political and social arenas.
Belafonte also took offense to Powell’s Cabinet appointment, claiming his seat was purely a token position. Again, when measured against all of Powell’s accolades, including two Presidential Medals of Freedom and a Congressional Gold Medal, the accusation is completely groundless.
Powell has remained calm when questioned about the remarks and seems to be taking them in stride according to a State Department spokesperson. The comments were more surprising to the radio show DJ who was taken aback by the bluntness with which Belafonte spoke.
Everyone has the right to his or her opinion; this is one of the joys and freedoms of America. But for Belafonte to make such unfounded remarks not only injures his reputation, but casts all African-Americans who have ascended into a position of importance in an unfavorable light. Implying that Powell has gained his position due to kowtowing and “towing the line” creates more animosity among Americans for the government and politicians. Many people probably didn’t hear Belafonte’s early morning rant on the San Diego station. But for those who did, let’s hope they can weed out intelligent comments from incoherent babble.