By Ayana Archie

Nicki Minaj surprised her fans May 7 by offering to pay off student loans and portions of her fans’ college expenses.

Minaj is currently holding a contest for her fans to join her at the Billboard Music Awards May 21. She tweeted the contest would also be open to international fans and she is financially able to fly the winner to her from any part of the world. This prompted Twitter user @cjbydesign to instead ask her to pay his tuition, to which Minaj agreed.

Minaj promised over 20 people to cover expenses such as books, software and even a camera. The requests ranged from a few hundred dollars to several thousands. She then vowed to resume her marathon of generosity in a couple months.

“Ok u guys. It’s been fun. Let me make those payments tmrw then see if I have any money left,” she tweeted. “ I’ll do some more in a month or 2.”

This brought to mind the question of just how far celebrites’ philanthropy should extend, and whether or not they should feel obligated to share their wealth.

Jay-Z caused some to raise their eyebrows in 2013 by saying “ … my presence is charity. Just who I am” in an interview with Elliott Wilson.

The comment was in response to civil rights activist and singer Harry Belafonte, who specifically pinpointed Jay-Z and Beyoncé for not doing enough to benefit their communities. He also said Bruce Springsteen was more “black” than the rapper because of Springsteen’s charitable ventures.

Despite the attitude Jay-Z’s comment portrayed, the rapper has engaged in philanthropy. His Shawn Carter Foundation provides college scholarships and Beyoncé recently announced a scholarship at four schools for women pursuing literature, creative arts, music or African-American studies.

We live in a country that has the power to ensure the success and well-being of most, if not all of its citizens. So why have celebrities been more responsive to some of our country’s issues than our federal government?

What would be the fate of Chicago Public Schools had Chance the Rapper not donated $10 million to the system? How would Flint residents fare if celebrities like Big Sean, Meek Mill and Aretha Franklin had not provided time, money and resources to the improvement of their circumstances? Would the students Minaj assisted been able to attend school next semester had it not been for her help?

It is easy to overlook the philanthropic contributions of celebrities as their other pursuits often overshadow them. Many give out of the openness of their hearts, but should they have to? Or rather, should the circumstances of our country make celebrities’ philanthropy the difference between being educated and uneducated or being healthy versus sick?

Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of Nicki Minaj on Facebook.

Ayana Archie is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at ayana.archie83@gmail.com.

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