Special to The Haitian Times
NEW-YORK- About 50 leaders, mostly from Haitian organizations, stood outside Hot 97 radio’s studios Dec 21 calling for the firing of one of the station’s morning show disc jockeys after he made an on-air crack slamming the Haitian community. HOT 97 DJ Cipha Sounds was suspended indefinitely from his job Tuesday after making an on air joke about Haitian women and HIV.
The deejay’s bosses first released a statement saying he would not be fired and was just a young man who had made a mistake.
But a more detailed three-pronged action plan to address the controversy was announced Dec. 21 overnight.
“First, the station announced that DJ Cipha Sounds has been suspended indefinitely,” the statement said.
“Second, Cipha will immediately undertake sensitivity training focused on the Haitian community and specifically, the challenges the Haitian community has faced in terms of the HIV epidemic.
“Finally, HOT 97 announced it will work with local community leaders to utilize the influence of HOT 97 to increase awareness of HIV and community programs to address the HIV epidemic.”
DJ Cipha Sounds, who co-hosts the station’s early morning show, infuriated listeners last Friday after explaining the reason why he’s never contracted the HIV virus.
“The reason I’m HIV negative is because I don’t mess with Haitian girls,” the deejay said during a discussion with co-hosts. At the protest the DJ’s statement was repeated verbatim by Brooklyn District Leader Rodneyse Bichotte, the first Haitian-American woman elected to any office in New York City.
“Hot 97 must make things right and this type of behavior is unacceptable” said Carine Jocelyn the Executive Director of Diaspora Community Services, a service organization based in Brooklyn, NY which currently assists clients and their families infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Ms. Jocelyn suggested that Mr. Diaz be strongly disciplined if not terminated for his disparaging remarks.
The comment sparked also a wave of anger in the Haitian community, particularly amongst Haitian women. The radio was flooded with calls denounced such racist and denigrating comments.
The Deejay, whom real name is Luis Diaz, has since apologized for his offensive comments. In a video about the incident, widely broadcast on the internet, Mr. Luis Diaz acknowledged making a stupid, tasteless joke that was taking the wrong way, for that he is embarrassed.
Unfortunately, his apology did not go far to quell the anger of the activists fighting for women rights and against HIV/AIDS in the community.
New York City Councilman Mathieu Eugene, a democrat from the 40th district in Brooklyn, repeating his message in three languages, called for D-J Cipha sounds’ immediate dismissal from the station, in order to right the wrong he created in the hearts of Haitian women across this country.
Protesters pointed to others offensive broadcasts made by Hot 97 radio personalities; the most recent, being about the victims of the tsunami which killed more than half a million, back in 2005. The station remained very popular with young listeners and has not lost any of its advertisers.
Many feel that Haitian has been through so much with the earthquake, the cholera outbreak and the political unrest to be subjected to this type of stereotype. That is why several elected officials and activists alike demanding the firing of the popular radio host.
New York City Councilman Jumanee Williams, whose district is the largest Haitian enclave outside of Miami, called for the station to take action or he will make sure that the listeners are tuned out. New York State Senator Eric Adams went as far as calling for a boycott of the station by advertisers; if they refused to heed to their demands. He is also calling on Hot 97 to draw the line or the coalition of protesters will.
This matter is not a New York City issue nor a Haitian one, it is for all of us to stand against and denounce these types of behavior,” Manhattan Deputy Borough President Rosemonde Pierre-Louis said.