It’s been 20 years since Tupac Shakur was killed at the age of 25 in a drive-by shooting. Before he became a rap icon and self-styled “thug,” he was a student at Baltimore School for the Arts.
Tag: jada pinkett smith
Jada Pinkett Smith was born in Baltimore, and the city still seems to hold a special place in her heart. Last week, the actress made a major contribution to the Victims Emergency Fund, which helps support victims and witnesses of crime–more than the entire amount the fund dispersed last year, in fact.
In true political form, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake chose not to answer Jada Pinkett Smith’s letter — which asked the mayor to prevent the jabbing of circus elephants with bullhooks at Ringling Bros.’ upcoming Baltimore performance — head on. Instead, she changed the subject and went on the offensive, chiding Pinkett Smith for not helping the mayor solve homelessness or repair our public schools after being “reached out” to.
Now, when you’re the mayor, it’s unbecoming at best to whine about a private citizen not doing enough for Baltimore; fixing the problems of the city is literally your job. But asking us to blame homelessness and underperforming schools on Jada Pinkett Smith — JADA PINKETT SMITH?! — is patently absurd. That’s the kind of thing you blame on the previous mayor or an uncooperative city council.
But the actress doesn’t need me defending her; she’s got an aunt who’s spitting fire. Karen Evans, who runs Pinkett Smith’s Baltimore-based charity, wrote a letter to the mayor touting her niece’s extensive local charity work and closing with the perfect burn: “I hope that at the end of your administration you will be able to say that you have made as positive an impact as she has.”
If only the elephants themselves could write letters — we’d have an angry-missive battle royale.
In response to a letter the actress sent to Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, asking her to ensure that Ringling Bros. refrain from the use of bullhooks to prod their circus elephants at their upcoming Baltimore performance, a spokesperson for the circus fired back at Jada Pinkett Smith, saying, “She doesn’t know the first thing about elephants or about how to take care of them.” In his opinion Pinkett Smith is being “misled” by PETA, the organization that distributed the letter. He invited the star to visit the elephants to see first-hand that the elephants are treated humanely, and not harmed by their handlers as her letter alleges.
But it’s really probably a more fundamental ethical rift. Which is to say, though the focus is on the billhooks, PETA (and, apparently Jada Pinkett Smith) views the involuntary servitude of these elephants as inherently unethical. So Pinkett Smith could show up to the circus to find the elephants in La-Z-Boys watching a Desperate Housewives marathon while their handlers fed them peeled grapes, and it probably wouldn’t change her attitude toward the use of wild animals in circus performances. It’s this basic difference of opinion regarding man’s rights over animals that keeps people on either side of the issue feeling like the opposition is out of its mind. On the other hand, it’s also what keeps us knee-deep in hot, nude PETA ads.
On Tuesday, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake received a letter from Jada Pinkett Smith. How exciting that would have been for her, had it not been an open letter all about elephants. The Baltimore native and actress called on the mayor to ensure that the city’s law forbidding the use of any “mechanical, electrical, or manual device that is likely to cause physical injury or suffering” on a performing animal be upheld during the Ringling Bros. Circus’s performance at 1st Mariner Arena. Specifically, Pinkett Smith is seeking to ensure that bullhooks not be used to prod circus elephants.
How funny. I was in the middle of writing my own open letter to the mayor demanding that she make sure Ringling Bros. not charge too much for oversalted popcorn and soda that is mostly ice. But Jada’s right — this is more important.
Pinkett Smith’s letter, distributed by PETA, claimed that not only are these elephants poked with painful bullhooks, but that several of them suffer from arthritis and yet are scheduled to perform in Baltimore.
It’s unclear how Rawlings-Blake will respond to the letter. According to The Sun, she is a big fan of the circus and even played “a ceremonial role” when Ringling Bros. came to the city in 2010.