Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Event Organizers: Choose Your Entertainment Wisely

Black Gay Bloggers Launch Protest Against
Music Industry’s Anti-Gay AIDS Concert

LIFEbeat AIDS Concert to Feature Performances
by Homophobic Reggae Artists Beenie Man and TOK

Los Angeles/New York (July 10, 2006) – A coalition of Black lesbian and gay bloggers have launched a worldwide online campaign against a music industry group’s decision to ignore requests to cancel performances by homophobic reggae artists Beenie Man and TOK at their July 18 reggae concert.

The concert, scheduled to take place in New York, is being used as a benefit to reach American youth about the dangers of HIV and AIDS. The coalition of activists is calling on LIFEbeat, the music industry’s non-profit organization AIDS organization, to either rescind the invitation to Beenie Man and TOK or demand that the two artists make a public statement prior to the concert disavowing their homophobic music and remarks.

In Beenie Man’s song “Han Up Deh,” he sings, “Hang chi chi gal wid a long piece of rope.” The term “chi chi” is a Jamaican reference to homosexuality. The term is often used to refer to “chi chi men” but can also refer to lesbians (chi chi women or chi chi girls). Loosely translated, the lyrics mean, “Hang lesbians with a long piece of rope.” Similarly, in TOK’s “Chi Chi Man,” they encourage the burning and killing of gay men.

“Gays of Caribbean descent continue to be targets of hate crimes, including murder,” commented activist and blogger Jasmyne Cannick. “It has only been a little over two years since Brian Williamson, a Jamaican gay activist and founder of Jamaica’s gay civil rights group J-FLAG was found murdered, his body mutilated by multiple knife wounds, simply because he was gay.”

“LIFEbeat needs to understand that Jamaica’s growing HIV/AIDS epidemic has led to widespread violence and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS and gay men,” Cannick continues. “Many Jamaicans still believe that HIV/AIDS is a disease of gays for ‘moral impurity.’ It’s commonplace to see violent acts against gays in Jamaica. Through these artists’ lyrics, they encourage this behavior and we here in the United States should not do the same by allowing them the platform.”

Keith Boykin, author and host of the BET J series MY TWO CENTS spoke to the LIFEbeat executive director John Canelli Monday morning. Canelli admitted that his organization knew that Beenie Man and TOK were homophobic artists but decided to do the concert anyway. “We didn't make the decision blindly and we knew there would be controversy, Canelli told Boykin.

“While we support the mission of LIFEbeat to educate our youth about the dangers of HIV/AIDS, we cannot support the use of blatantly homophobic recording artists to achieve that mission,” Boykin said. “In fact, to provide a forum for these musicians actually contradicts the mission of LIFEbeat in that the artists promote homophobia that contributes to AIDS.”

Other performers during the concert include reggae artists Wayne Wonder, Sasha and Kulcha and a special performance by rapper Foxy Brown. The concert is being supported by BET, Vibe Magazine, Music Choice and New York’s Power 105.1 FM.

A partial listing of the bloggers included in the online campaign include: Donald Agarrat, Keith Boykin, Clay Cane, Jasmyne Cannick, Terrence Heath, Frank Roberts, Pam Spaulding and Bernard Tarver.

1 comment:

thelastnoel said...

Too, too cool. Add THE Frederick Smith to that prominent list.