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November 28, 2014

Response to Ferguson: Systemic Problems Require Systemic Solutions

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Decades of segregation and inequality in Ferguson, as well as most American metropolitan areas, have fostered a racial inequality exacerbated by the criminalization of not just poverty, but the criminalization of black and brown bodies. Too many whites are too willing to believe that a black body poses a threat.

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DJ Cipha Sounds Suspended Indefinitely After Controversial Haitian Remarks

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New York City radio show jocks are known for ruffling some feathers. But a joke gone wrong just cost Hot 97's DJ Cipha Sounds his gig.

On Dec.18, the hip-hop shock jock went on 'The Cipha Sounds and Rosenberg Show' and stated that he was HIV negative because he steers clear of having sexual intercourse with Haitian women.

"The reason I'm HIV negative is 'cause I don't mess with Haitian girls," the Bronx native, born Luis Diaz, said.

An onslaught of Haitians flooded the station's lines with their complaints and disapproval via Twitter and Facebook. Then yesterday (Dec. 21), activists and community leaders led a protest outside the Hot 97 West Village offices.

Brooklyn councilman Mathieu Eugene told local television station, NY1, that the Haitian community would take a harsh stance against Hot 97 until Diaz suffered strong repercussions for his actions.

"Mr. Diaz said that he made a joke. That was not a joke. That was a serious insult, not only to Haitian women, but also to the entire Haitian community, and to all women, regardless of your nationality," Eugene said. "And today, we are here together, to ensure that Mr. Diaz be removed from the station."

Executives at the radio station's parent company, Emmis Communications, have now decided on a three-part plan to address the fiasco.Cipha Sounds has been suspended indefinitely, and according to a press release, the former MTV VJ "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."

Hot 97 will also partner with local community leaders to use the influence of HOT 97 and to increase awareness of HIV and community programs to address the HIV epidemic.

"The Haitian community is an important part of our listenership whom we respect and value," stated senior vice president and marketing manager Alex Cameron. The suspension is an indication of the importance we place on delivering a product that respects our Haitian audience."

This is a stark contrast from an e-mail statement that Cameron previously sent to The New York Daily News, which read, "He will not be fired. He's a young man who made a mistake, does not have a track record of any malice and we are handling this as an internal matter."

"Cipha made an immediate public apology and recognizes his insensitivity and the negative impact his comments have on all Haitians," Cameron clarified in the new press release. "It's a very regrettable and unfortunate circumstance for all involved and particularly because we know this is not the nature of this young man who has been an advocate of the Haitian community and a big part of our fundraising efforts for Haiti."

"He is committed to working with the Haitian community to make a difference and turn this negative incident into an opportunity for increased learning and awareness," he added.

Just a few hours after his harsh remarks, the 34-year-old radio personality apologized for making the unflattering comments. "I made a stupid, tasteless joke that was a one-liner that was taken totally the wrong way," he said. "I want to say sincerely that I apologize. I do nothing but rep for the Haitian people, but I said something stupid that I'm embarrassed about."

There's no word on whether DJ Cipha Sounds will return to Hot 97 after his sensitivity training.



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