*HOT 97 DJ Cipha Sounds was suspended indefinitely from his job Tuesday after making an on air joke about Haitian women and HIV.
This comments sparked outrage in the Haitian community and dozens of activists and elected officials gathered outside the radio station’s Manhattan headquarters Monday morning to call for his resignation.
According to the New York Daily News, Hot 97 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 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.”
During the DJ’s live show Friday he claimed he is HIV-negative because he does not “mess with Haitian girls.” The station was flooded with calls and upset listeners also used Facebook and Twitter to voice their rage.
Cipha Sounds, whose real name is Luiz Diaz, later apologized to listeners, calling it a “tasteless joke” but Haitian-Americans said saying sorry was not enough. Radio station chiefs appear to have taken note.
“Cipha made an immediate public apology and recognizes his insensitivity and the negative impact his comments have on all Haitians,” said Alex Cameron, SVP/Market Manager of Emmis-New York. “The Haitian community is an important part of our listenership whom we respect and value. The suspension is an indication of the importance we place on delivering a product that respects our Haitian audience.
“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.”