DJ's Quip Linking Haitians and HIV Sparks Outrage
Cipha Sounds' dis opens old wounds at a time when Haitians have more than enough problems on their plate.
It's been an especially difficult year for the Haitian community, which has been dealing with the aftermath of a massive earthquake that killed more than 200,000 Haitians and displaced more than 1 million. The Caribbean country was hit with tropical storms, a cholera outbreak and an election in November that delivered no new president but did end in charges of fraud.
"Haiti has always been kicked," said an online DJ at the press conference, who calls himself Deejay Hard Hittin' Harry. He held up a T-shirt that read "One Haitian Under God" in front of reporters' cameras at the event. "We need to be uplifting Haiti," he said. "It's, like, come on, man; [Sounds'] timing couldn't have been more bad. We're approaching the [earthquake] one-year anniversary. It was wack."
Sounds' comment also opened old wounds stemming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 1983 list of HIV risk groups banned from donating blood, which included Haitians, hemophiliacs, homosexuals and heroin addicts. After years of dealing with that stigma, New York Haitians led a pivotal march in 1990 to protest the unproven CDC claims.
For Antonieta Andou, Sounds' comment brought back memories of when she was 5 and attended the march with her mother. The DJ's comment "brought back feelings of disgust, feelings of degradation," said Andou, who belongs to BelTiFi, an empowerment organization for young Haitian-American women.
Andou asked, "Why is it that after all we've been through, someone like Cipha Sounds -- who does reach the Haitian community, who does reach the black community, Caucasian community, all communities in Brooklyn -- would say something that extreme?"
Josée Valcourt is a New York-based journalist.