The Game is showing us how it’s done with his $1 million pledge to help the people in Flint, Michigan. This is important, because the rapper is setting a standard for how black celebrities, entertainers — all of us — should give back to our communities.
He made the announcement on Instagram, with a donation on behalf of his charity, the Robin Hood Project. This amounts to the revenue from the first 11 shows of his European tour. And for The Game, it’s personal, since his younger sister and her children live in the city, which has been hit hard by a water crisis where residents have been drinking lead-poisoned water for two years. The rapper stepped up, challenging others to do the same.
“Most celebs on here faking using the word ‘Pledge’ in their so called donations are not fooling anyone! The truth is the population in Flint, Michigan is about 105,000 people & it takes at least 9 bottles per person a day just to use to bathe, brush their teeth, drink & cook with,” he said.
“We want proof!!! Stop using others tragedies for your own celebrity gain… You’re not fooling ANYONE !” he also wrote.
And The Game even called out certain celebrities by name. “I seen @Madonna & @JimmyFallon’s $10,000 donations… that’s cute, but not nearly enough…. So I challenge both & anyone else in the world to match me & DONATE $1,000,000 in bottled water to Flint, Michigan & we want proof, shipping order receipts, bank wire receipts, pictures etc……….. No more pretending to give a f**k,” The Game added. “I donate money all the time & it comes out of my pocket & never once have I written anything off on my taxes because that’s not why I do it !!!!!!!!”
This latest move by The Game comes as Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, announced she will provide free hotel rooms to 50 Flint residents and donate food to residents there. And there are other celebrities and athletes who are doing their part as well. For example, Mark Wahlberg and Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs donated 1 million bottles. The Detroit Lions, led by defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, donated 94,000 bottles. Rapper Meek Mill, boyfriend of Nicki Minaj, sent 60,000 and money to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan.
If there is going to be a battle among artists, let it be over their compassion and generosity as well as their skills, because these high-profile artists know that without the community that supports them, they are nothing and going nowhere. And the decision by The Game is significant because it comes at a time when hip-hop culture has become known for not giving back enough.
In case you didn’t know, the African-American community finds itself in the middle of a movement, as we fight against poisoned water, the cops killing our babies, too many of our folks behind bars, you name it.
Back in the day, like the civil rights movement of the 1960s, we had actors, athletes, singers, musicians and writers who were a part of that movement, and some of them put their lives on the line and their money where their mouth is. In 1964, Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier drove down to Mississippi, in the heart of Ku Klux Klan country under threat of bodily harm, with $70,000 to take to Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Now that takes heart and conviction. And the music and the musicians of the time reflected the tone and tenor of what was going on then.
If you are a performer, and your people are suffering, even dying over toxic water, and you have no connection to that, no response to that, then what exactly are you doing? What is it that you are about, and where is your social conscience? And who cares how much money you have, or how many cars you just bought?
Now, no one expects bottled water to save the world. Given the scope of the problem in Flint — the role of state government officials in creating the crisis, the need for federal government mobilization and a new water system — water bottles are nowhere near enough. And after all, thousands of children have already been exposed to lead poisoning. As The Game said himself, “I put up $1,000,000 yesterday for water in flint but even that won’t be enough being that it will only provide 9-10 bottles per person a day just to barely get to the next day… The population is a bit over 100,000 so what we’re donating is all good but it won’t last forever & will be consumed in just weeks.”
Not to absolve Governor Snyder and others of their responsibility, but imagine if all public citizens who were able to help actually did something? One day, it could be Flint, but the next day it could be pooling our resources together to support the HBCUs or start a film studio to tell our own stories, whether or not the Oscars recognize us. Imagine how much of a difference that would make.
“This situation isn’t about who has the most money or who’s getting the biggest media coverage, it’s about bringing awareness to this tragedy to the millions of people on the outside looking in on flint Michigan wondering how to help,” The Game said. “It’s about not one person trying to make a difference but everyone pulling their resources together and doing what’s best for the community of Flint.”
So let’s give The Game his props, because these acts of generosity never receive the attention they should.
Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove