Hot 97 Suspends DJ Cipha Sounds For Haitian HIV Comments
UPDATE: Cipha Sounds admits that he was unaware his words were so powerful, and apologizes through his Twitter page.
New York area radio station WQHT “Hot” 97.1 FM announced DJ Cipha Sounds will be suspended indefinitely for offensive comments he made about Haitian women. Listeners, community leaders and members of the Haitian-American community called for Cipha Sounds termination after a Friday morning broadcast which found Cipha saying, “The reason I’m HIV negative is because I don’t mess with Haitian girls.”
Cipha Sounds, born Luis Diaz, is a 15-year industry veteran with experience in radio, television and behind the turntables with the likes of Lil Kim and Funkmaster Flex. After angry listeners began responding to the remark, Cipha Sounds issued a formal apology.
“I made a stupid, tasteless joke that was a one-liner,” Cipha told listeners. “It was taken totally the wrong way, and I want to say sincerely that I apologize for even saying this thing.”
Adding that he was embarrassed and didn’t want co-host Peter Rosenberg to share any blame for his comments, Cipha pointed to his relief efforts during the Haitian earthquake and his rapport with the Haitian community as evidence of his true feelings. Cipha Sounds will also undergo sensitivity training focused on the Haitian community, and the station announced it will work with community leaders to increase HIV awareness.
“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 via written statement. “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.”
UPDATE: Cipha Sounds tweeted the following statement as a reaction to this week's reprimanding and job suspension.
IM JUST A DUDE FROM THE BRONX THAT HAS A REALLY COOL JOB & I DIDNT KNOW MY WORDS WERE THIS POWERFUL. ITS A BLESSING TO LEARN... THANK U
MI LUV ALL MY CARIBBEAN / WEST INDIAN PEOPLE & THE 1'S THAT DONT KNOW ME WILL SEE THAT IT WAS A MISTAKE & I HAVE NO HATE IN BODY WHATSOEVER.