Put your money…
by Emily Gallagher
Mar 08, 2017 | 1010 views | 0 0 comments | 66 66 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Yesterday in Chicago, Chance the Rapper – who just won the Best New Artist Grammy among others – donated $1 million to the Chicago Public School system to pay for arts programming that was getting slashed.

He made the donation after having an underwhelming conversation with the governor of Illinois about the state of education and what is about to start happening nationally, with increased defunding of services that children rely on to develop their skills, personalities, their intellects and their dreams.

Chance the Rapper, whose full name is Chancellor Jonathan Bennett, also pledged that for every $100,000 raised, Social Works (Chance’s not-for-profit organization) will donate $10,000 to one of the most needy public high schools in the Chicago area.

This type of generosity is far too infrequent in my opinion. New York City is full of glamorous actors, musicians and thought leaders who make far more money than they can conceivably spend on themselves.

We've seen an uptick in celebrities choosing to be outspoken for causes they believe in lately, but what does it mean to truly stand up for something that matters to you?

Having incredible social influence and power can be a generator of great interest in a topic or issue, but what would be more is if our wealthy and talented neighbors and friends stood up for these issues that are so threatened not just in words but in deeds?

I became aware that Prince, another of my favorite musicians, very privately financed civil rights actions. As a Jehovah's Witness, he preferred to do this out of the public eye.

I think most celebrities who are generous finance things privately because they feel that it is ostentatious to be public about major donations.

But what Chance the Rapper is showing us is that we have great need for Robin Hood figures right now: benevolent millionaires who are willing to put out money for the goodwill of their community, which is quite frankly at enormous risk.

We are watching as billionaires fund politicians in order to get benevolent laws, like environmental protection and other regulations, removed. What if there was an equal and opposite reaction?

Chance doing this publicly, and making a statement about his disappointment in the political situation that led him to that decision, mattered. It also mattered that he called out the music and lifestyle magazines to cover it.

He challenged them by saying, "Those of you who cover me walking down the street, why don't you write about this?"

I admire Chance the Rapper because he is truly authentic to himself and his beliefs. He never bought into a record label, he has self produced and freely distributed all of his own music.

He has made his millions through touring and selling merchandise, which I think is usually designed by his own friends. And now he is spending his surplus earnings on keeping the best parts of education in the schools of his city.

New York City, Brooklyn, and even Greenpoint have so many celebrities living within it that could follow in his footsteps. While I don't want to live in a world where we are dependent on the generosity of millionaires to have our basic needs met, in this scary time it is nice to know that there are privileged people out there who are willing and ready to stand up for all of us.

I'm tired of reading about how many celebrity homes our favorite HBO stars and radio hitmakers have. I want to see more of them using their surplus funds to stand up for us all. Who will be Brooklyn's Chance the Rapper? I hope someone will, soon.

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