Celebrities Help Beyond 'Hope for Haiti Now'
As you probably know, “Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief” took over the airwaves last Friday night.
More than 40 television channels brought us performances by musicians like Dave Matthews, Neil Young, Chris Martin, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Jay Z, Rihanna, and Wyclef Jean and speeches from actors and actresses like George Clooney, Morgan Freeman, Robert Pattinson, Halle Berry, and Julia Roberts who explained to us the severity of Haiti’s situation and encouraged us to call or visit the website to make a donation.
Anderson Cooper talked with survivors and medical professionals on the scene, Bill Clinton told us about his and George Bush’s Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund, and we heard emotional stories from people who’d only just left the country or had family members in Haiti.
All in all, it was a good show; Mary J. Blige‘s rendition of “Hard Times Come Again No More” made me cry and, according to an MTV release, Hope for Haiti Now has raised more than $61 million to date.
You might be surprised to hear that it’s that last part – the money part – that has some folks ranging from confused to angry.
I haven’t conducted any formal interviews or asked any specific questions, mind you, but I have noticed the petitions like the user-created one, Help America Before Sending Our Resources to Haiti, on care2’s popular The Petition Site, and I have also noticed conversations on social networks like Twitter and Facebook asking everything from “How can the American government afford to help another country and not its own?” to “Why don’t these celebrities help the people in need in America first?”
While Celebrity Psychings certainly isn’t the platform to talk about how the government uses our tax dollars, it is the platform to point out that there are celebrities who are using their big names and sometimes their big bank accounts to help right here at home.
When you look to the left (if you’re on the main Celebrity Psychings page; it doesn’t show up on individual posts), there’s a list of celebrity-created or -supported organizations and charities, most of which were created to help Americans in need. The most recent to join the mental health advocacy effort was Glenn Close with Bring Change 2 Mind, and you also have celebs working in other fields such as Jon Bon Jovi and his Soul Foundation, which works to “break the cycle of poverty and homelessness,” and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill with Neighbor’s Keeper, which was created to “strengthen communities by contributing to diverse projects with primary emphasis on children’s initiatives.”
Want more? Check out Look to the Stars.
Clearly, there are plenty of celebrities helping America.
Again, this isn’t the place for a discussion about our tax dollars (unless we’re talking about how they’re used for mental health, of course!), but it is the place to say I think the reason so many people have asked “Why aren’t the celebrities doing more for this country?” is because charity drives for Haiti were urgent and immediate, while the charity efforts for our own problems are ongoing. People become aware of them, think “How nice of [whatever celebrity]” (or, something cynical like “Nice career move”), and move on.
Obviously, I think it’s awesome when a celebrity uses his or her fame to raise awareness of and funds for important issue like mental health; otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing this blog. Still, I think it’s important we remember that as awesome as it is, as celebrities, it isn’t their responsibility.
As humans, it’s everyone’s responsibility.
Sparks, A. (2010). Celebrities Help Beyond 'Hope for Haiti Now'. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 9, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/celebrity/2010/01/celebrities-help-beyond-hope-for-haiti-now/