On August 29th, 2017, Houston, Texas endured one of its most horrific hurricanes in years. This hurricane would later be known as Hurricane Harvey. Within days, citizens from around the country donated clothes, food, and money to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Many celebrities have also donated to the victims but of course, there was some controversy and discussions arose from this situation. Kevin Hart called out many of his celebrity friends on social media and asked them to donate. Kevin called out numerous celebrities, including Beyonce, and members of the Beyhive felt it was a personal attack; many asked, "why are you calling out Beyonce? Why are you expecting her to donate?". Master P soon after said calling out celebrities wasn't necessary and it shouldn't be a competition.
If that wasn't dramatic enough, renowned religious leader Joel Olsteen dealt with backlash for not opening his church to those in need during the hurricane. While he said that his church was not safe for evacuees and those in need of shelter, numerous Facebook users took it upon themselves to post videos showing Joel Olsteen's church roped off in certain sections. Once again, many defended Olsteen, his church, and religious organizations in general by asking, "Why yall worrying about him donating? He doesn't gotta donate!".
I wholeheartedly disagree.
Joel Olsteen has to donate. Beyonce has to donate. Kevin Hart has to donate. Anyone of power has to donate.
Now I do agree with Master P that we shouldn't make it into a competition, but I do expect celebrities and religious leaders to donate. Whether they know it or not, they made an obligation to help their community and their fans.
How many times have you heard of celebrities giving a "shout out" or "representing" to their hood, giving "shout outs" to their fans, gloating about their favorite cities in songs, turning up at the hottest clubs in each city they visit, and saying how much they love their fans? How many times have you heard of a celebrity speaking on issues that affect us, yet there's no action followed after that? If celebrities love their fans and communities as much as they say they do, it shouldn't take a public call-out or be called-out by other celebrities for them to donate. For most celebrities, their career wouldn't have gotten started or they wouldn't be at the financial level they're at without the support of their fans, some of who, right now, are living in poverty, suffering from mental health, or are victims of Hurricane Harvey. Just as fans go out of their way to support their art and projects, celebrities should go out of their way to help their fans in a time of a national devastation. I'm not so much concerned about the amount of money they donate or what they donate because celebrities are people too and they have bills to pay, that's understandable, but at least show your fans their voices are heard and they efforts to reach out to you won't go in vain.
Now as far as the church, I'll admit, I expect just as much if not, more from churches. Service and community are two of the biggest pillars of most faith based institutions. Learning about The Joel Olsteen situation and about other churches doing the same (because Joel Olsteen's church wasn't the only one to close their doors to people), proved everything most Americans now believed about religion. In institutions that preach about love, giving back, and helping those in needs, it's counterproductive to limit your services to those who have put their faith in the church and faith in their religious leaders. How can you call yourself a leader and make no efforts to help those who are less fortunate than you?
Churches don't have to pay taxes and collect up to millions of dollars annually. Pastors, deacons and other religious leaders are living in million dollar homes, wearing outfits worth over a thousand dollars, and driving cars that cost about the same as someone's tuition. Celebrities, although they pay taxes, aren't that far apart from religious leaders. Church leaders expect us to donate and give offerings every Sunday, and celebrities expect us to buy their concert tickets, buy their albums, support their movies, etc. We don't have to support them, but we do because we feel a connection with them, we see us in them. With that in mind, yes I do expect celebrities and religious leaders to donate and do something for the victims of Hurricane Harvey or any national disaster. For people to see pastors and celebrities so vocal about the products being sold and tours they're going on, yet so silent about issues going on affecting everyday people, it's a slap in the face to those church members and to those fans, to be honest. If you're truly about the community and truly care about the well-being of your fans and church members, then it should be second nature to help them out in a time when they're losing everything. Not only should they help, but they should help out of generosity and from the heart, not because it's in their marketing plan, a tax write off, or it looks better for their image. I don't think we should bash celebrities or anyone with a platform, but there has to be a give-and-take between the haves and the have nots.