Kanye West received backlash for his criticism of President Bush and media portrayals of black Americans after Hurricane Katrina.
As a writer, Harriet Beecher Stowe used the media of her time, newspaper publications and novels, as a way to advocate an anti-slavery position. Though she received death threats and significant criticism, her career was not ultimately impaired, as she went on to write a total of 30 books. Yet, while Stowe was an artist, she made her advocacy a central and integrated part of her work, most notably through Uncle Tom's Cabin. Today, musicians, filmmakers, writers, and actors often try to appeal to a mass majority and thus are faced with a considerable economic risk if they step out of their genre and advocate on potentially controversial topics.
Can a "mainstream" artist, one occupying space in a traditional corporate or capitalist marketplace, be a true advocate for justice? Or is it easier for an independent artist to fight for issues of equality? Commentators on Harris-Perry's show described how early hip-hop music, often underground and independent to start, was built on fighting for racial justice and equality. Do certain genres of entertainment lend more easily to activism? What other artists are advocating for justice? Let us know!