Dolly Parton seems to be one of the few celebrities who has used her fame and money (lots of it) to influence society without alienating her fans nor offending half the population.
In addition to the millions of books she's given away to children, she also played a tremendously important role in the development of a COVID vaccine (words I never thought I'd write). To my knowledge I've never heard her tell people who to vote for, tell us us which lives matter, nor which guns we should or shouldn't be allowed to own. She's just performed her craft, kept a smile on her face, and used many millions of dollars of her income to make people's lives better.
I'm probably one of the few who is not a big fan of her music. Her voice grates on me a bit. In her duets and ensembles with other stars her voice dominates rather than enhances. But, I think she's a fabulous person and a great example for other famous rich people to follow.
Sure, anyone is allowed to voice their opinion, kneel, raise a fist or wear socks with cops dressed as pigs. But they shouldn't whine or act shocked when criticism comes from doing that. Maybe, just maybe, there are better ways to do good, to make a difference, without losing fans, endorsements and even your job. Dolly has pointed the way.
I'm a Kid Rock fan. Not because of his MAGA, Confederate flag waving ways. I was a fan before MAGA and before the Confederate flag became the racist symbol some think it now is. I liked his energy, his music and his concerts. I'm still a fan despite his new shtick. I'm guessing he'd have more fans without it but is probably at a point in his career where he doesn't need them.
I was a fan of David Letterman before he became political. And I didn't quit his comedy because he became political, but because he became one-sidedly political. I'm a fan of Chris Rock and David Chapelle because they are funny and aren't afraid to skew both sides and the middle.
Taylor Swift and Kanye West have become political on opposite sides of the spectrum. I don't care because neither one has ever struck me as particularly intelligent or somebody I'd listen to on any subject. It doesn't seem wise for either one as far as branding, marketing or growing their base of fans. But that's their choice. Again, notice, they did this once they became established, not when it actually could have hurt their careers in their infancy. They aren't brave for doing it now; it actually show-cases their cowardice for not doing it earlier.
While there are other athletes and performers who do good without getting political, Nelson Cruz of the Minnesota Twins is one such individual who comes to mind, so many of the ones who spout off their opinions are no wiser than any other man on the street. And their opinions shouldn't be given any more credence than them.
Just do good, lead by example and people will notice - eventually.
Along those lines but on a different note: We've had all the sports leagues and numerous athletes engaged on the matter of race in America - particularly black athletes, particularly when it comes to concerns about law enforcement. Most of it is symbolic, messages in the end zone, messages on jerseys, taking a knee, etc. Yet there's been very little talk of substantive matters they could take. Again, things that matter, like Dolly has done.
I propose to those athletes a couple things they could do that might actually have an impact:
- Go speak at police academies going on now. Those recruits will be patrolling the streets soon. Tell what it's like to be a black person in America, your fears, what makes you uncomfortable, what makes one disobey an officer's orders, what officers can do better to bridge the divide.
- Go on a ride-along with an officer. Don't go for a 1-hour photo-op at 10 a.m. Ride along on a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift. See what those officers encounter every night, perhaps get an understanding of why they may get jittery and make incorrect split-second decisions. Talk with them. Understanding is a two-way street. After doing a few ride-alongs, maybe players will have a new perspective or new ideas on how officers could approach things differently. Then use your powerful podium to talk about those ideas, with validity and experience now guiding your opinions.
- Use your voice to talk to the youth (of all races). Talk about getting an education, respecting other people. Talk to them about getting involved, going to city council meetings, school board meetings, becoming knowledgeable and perhaps running for office themselves someday. Encourage them to use their voices rather than their drop-kicks or throwing bricks. Talk to them about listening to the cops' directions - don't give cops a reason to suspect the worst of your intentions. Maybe you'll save a life.
- Use your voice to talk to the adults (of all races). Encourage fathers to raise their sons. Encourage people to stay off drugs and alcohol or to get help if needed. To be there for their children. To know their kids' friends and their parents. To know where they are and what they're doing. Take active roles in their lives. Keep them off the streets at night.
- Arrange visits with the decision makers - governors, mayors, police chiefs. Explain to them your concerns and what you've learned.
- Encourage people to let the facts play out before they take actions that could have dire consequences on them or others. Sometimes, eventually, we find the cops acted justly, other times unjustly. Then use your voices for justice for whatever side was correct. When we blindly assume cops are racists or criminals, we're no better than the bad cops who blindly assume a black kid is criminal. People will notice when you are fair to both sides and your words will have more meaning and validity.
Or, just put a message on your shoes to make it look like you care and made a difference when you actually were just doing it because it was the cool thing to do.