It’s a legitimate question to raise after being notified that LIFEbeat, the music industry’s non-profit that focuses on AIDS announces that at it’s Reggae Gold Jumpoff, not one, but two homophobic reggae artists will be performing. Yes, you read right. Beanie Man and TOK have been booked to perform at LIFEbeat’s 6th "Hearts & Voices Concert Series" benefit concert featuring international reggae artists coming together for the first time to address HIV/AIDS. The event is being sponsored by BET, Vibe Magazine, Music Choice and New York’s Power 105.1 FM.
Beanie Man, as you may recall, in his 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, TOK has recorded a song called "Chi Chi Man," a reggae song which encourages the burning and killing of gay ("chi chi") men. These are the lyrics:
From dem a par inna chi chi man car
Blaze di fire mek we bun dem!!!! (Bun dem!!!!)
From dem a drink inna chi chi man bar
Blaze di fire mek we dun dem!!!! (Dun dem!!!!)
So then, why would LIFEBeat under any circumstances support having these two artists perform at their event?
Keith Boykin spoke to LIFEBeat’s Executive Director John Canelli today and he 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," he told me. "We knew there would be controversy."
Controversy. You haven’t begun to see controversy.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, Emil Wilbekin, the openly gay former editor-in-chief of VIBE magazine, is on their board of directors. In addition, Hilary Rosen, the openly gay former head of the Recording Industry Association of America, is on their board of advisors.
So what can you do?
Send an email, fax, or make a phone call to the following people demanding that they either rescind the invitation to Beenie Man and TOK or demand that those two artists make a public statement prior to the concert disavowing their homophobic music and remarks.
I’m sure you would agree that we’ve come too far in the struggle against AIDS to allow vicious homophobia to go unchallenged in the public sphere.
630 Ninth Avenue (between 44th and 45th Streets)
New York, NY 10036
John Cannelli, Executive Director, x101, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Peters Manager, Operations, x119, email@example.com