Remember when Chance the Rapper solidified his spot as the most perfect human being in the universe by donating $1 million to the Chicago school system? The good deed definitely didn’t go overlooked. Three Hispanic 10th graders from the Chicago Public School wrote an open letter to the rapper thanking him for the donation.
The letter, written by Alex Rojas, Alondra Cerros and Annelisse Betancourt, begins like this:
First and foremost, we as Chicago Public School students would like to thank you for the supportive donation to our schools As we all know, CPS has been struggling financially, and your donation has really given us a push to get to where we need to be and possibly motivate others to give back to the community as well.
The students called Chance an “inspiration” compared to other celebrities, and they have a point. While many pop culture icons will vocalize their support or opposition for certain things, it’s still considered controversial in today’s social climate. Some people believe it’s necessary for people in the spotlight to use their voices to speak out; others think these idols should stick to their jobs and keep ideologies out of it.
I get it. Really, I do. But while I understand that ultimately, celebrities exist to entertain, not to campaign, it still makes me wonder: if you have influence over people, why not use it for good?
Let’s look at Chance, for instance. He is a rare exception: not only is he unafraid to say what he thinks, but he’ll do something about it, too. He spent copious amounts of time working with the governor of Illinois to advocate for public schools before finally going rogue and giving his own donation, and he also he managed to help stop gun violence for 42 hours in Chicago using his Twitter account and several radio stations. He’s used his name and resources not just to say he cares about a certain issue, but to try to fix it. And because of that, he’s touching lives everywhere. Just let the students tell you:
You’re more than just an artist to us, you are a way of life. You make music that we can relate to on many levels, because you know what living in Chicago is like, and you want to make changes in the city. We may not be from the same side but we come from the same city. We just want to thank you for not forgetting where you came from and helping the city of Chicago in more ways than just being an inspirational rapper. You’re using your fame for good and not just to look good. You gave $1 million dollars of your personal money to Chicago schools and that’s something no one has done for us.
What Chance has done for Chicago matters. But why is it considered so exceptional? Why is it when someone does something good for the public, it’s considered a grand display of goodwill? Because I bet you anything that Chance didn’t do all of that thinking, “Wow, I am such a great person. This is going to get me a lot of good press.” He probably went into it thinking, “This is something my city needs, and I’m going to do something about it.” And that’s how it should be.
If it were the norm for celebrities and artists to step out of their shiny bubbles and use their influence for good, maybe cities like Chicago would see a decline in violence. Maybe Flint would finally have clean water. And maybe students would finally have the resources they need to go on to become people who will use what they have to make the world a better place, too.
The students finished the letter with this final note:
As minority students we feel ignored and as though we don’t have enough support from bigger influences like you. Being born and raised in Chicago is not easy at all. There are so many stereotypes and restrictions we have as teenagers due to the frequent violence and crimes. Your music puts some at ease because we know that someone cares and someone has experienced these daily struggles too. You and your music have taught us that you can be true to yourself and still be successful, still be self-made.
Once again, thank you for aiding us and giving something back to the city we know and love, Chicago.
Yes, thank you, Chance.