Gay Men of African Descent and the National Black Justice Coalition Sign GLAAD Petition Against Banton’s Support for Murdering Gay People
December 11, 2009, New York, NY - Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD) and the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) announced today that they stand with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) in its petition drive and advocacy work protesting the recent Grammy nomination of reggae singer Buju Banton’s album “Rasta Got Soul.” Banton has a long history of advocating the killing of gay people.
In a popular song released in 1988 entitled "Boom Bye Bye," Banton repeats the anti-gay slurs, "batty bwoy" and "batty man," which are equivalent to the slur "fa**ot," and says that they "have to die" and he will "shoot them in the head" or "burn them." He continues to sing this song at his concerts today. In October 2009, Banton was quoted in news reports saying: "This is a fight, and as I said in one of my songs 'there is no end to the war between me and f----t' and it's clear."
Sharon Lettman, the Executive Director of NBJC says, “We must take a stand against any type of negative expression that encourages violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. With music being a major cultural influence, such messages that fuel hate and homophobia place our community in harm’s way.”
Tokes M. Osubu, GMAD’s Executive Director adds, “By nominating this album, the Recording Academy is sending the message that the violence against the LGBT community especially in Jamaica, which Buju Banton has so wantonly celebrated and encouraged in his music, is not worthy of condemnation, and that protecting our lives is of little importance.”
GLAAD urges community members and allies to protest Buju Baton’s Grammy Nomination and tell Recording Academy members to not support his nomination. The petition can be found at http://www.glaad.org/bujubantonpetition.
On Wednesday the Recording Academy released the following statement to GLAAD.
The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Awards have a long history of supporting freedom of speech and creative expression, and of supporting artists and the music they create. Artists of a variety of political or cultural perspectives have been nominated or featured on the telecast, despite protests and backlash. The Academy acknowledges that there are very strong and diverse opinions on many issues and in many instances, we have helped initiate dialogue on matters that require education and further discussion. It takes tolerance to teach tolerance, and it is through dialogue and debate that social discovery may occur. The GRAMMY Awards is a celebration and recognition of outstanding musical achievement by music makers, regardless of politics, and that will continue to be our mission.
GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios issued the following response:
"While we appreciate the Recording Academy issuing a response, we firmly disagree with their justification for nominating Buju Banton for a Grammy Award. Advocating the murder of gay people is not a ‘political or cultural perspective.’ We urge Recording Academy members NOT to support Buju Banton's nomination. Ignoring his continued promotion of brutality against gay people sends a message that violence against our community is OK.”
Founded in 2003, the National Black Justice Coalition is a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Its mission is to end racism and homophobia. NBJC envisions a world where all people are fully empowered to participate safely, openly and honestly in family, faith and community, regardless of race, gender-identity, or sexual orientation. For more information, please visit www.NBJC.org.
GMAD Inc. is the nation’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to the well-being of black, gay men and will celebrate its 24th anniversary in 2010. For more information, please visit to www.gmad.org.