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Buju Banton's Legal Team Unhappy With Attacks On Activist Greene

Buju Banton

Buju Banton

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

BUJU Banton’s legal team has reached out to Erin Greene to distance the artist from attacks she has endured after saying the reggae star’s song “Boom Bye Bye” should not be played at his concert here in March.

Last week, Ms Greene told The Tribune Mr Banton’s performance should not be opposed as long as he did not sing the song which advocates violence towards gay people. That interview with Ms Greene inspired a torrent of commentary within the last week, much of it venomous towards the activist who mostly welcomed Mr Banton and his show.

Ms Greene, pictured right, said the reactions to her comments have her concerned for her safety and for others in the LGBT community. She said she has experienced threatening behaviour in the last week, with people behaving suspiciously and shouting “boom bye bye” at her in public.

She said: “Buju Banton’s legal team, after they become aware of the public sentiment, reached out to me to indicate they are not comfortable with the level of vitriol in the discourse and they had no intention and have no intention of being the cause of such conflict or vitriol and what they are concerned about most is all Bahamians get to enjoy this concert safely and all Bahamians are safe when Buju is here performing.”

She said she did not discuss whether the controversial song will be performed with Mr Banton’s legal team.

“I need to confirm with them what their intentions are on that,” she said, “and I think it’s best they state what their intentions are but I feel comfortable that their intentions are to ensure that all Bahamians enjoy the concert and those who don’t want to go can enjoy themselves knowing that they have a life free of violence.”

The role “Boom Bye Bye” had in Mr Banton’s concert discography before he was arrested on drug-related matters in 2009 is unclear. International press widely reported in 2007 that he signed a “reggae compassionate act,” agreeing not to perform music with homophobic lyrics. However, a Jamaican news company, RJR News, wrote a report in which his manager, Donovan Germaine, dismissed those reports as false.

For her part, Ms Greene said she is gratified that the reggae superstar’s legal team reached out to her. “It makes me feel like they understand their obligations as media providers and they want to be good community partners and this performance is all about building and supporting a culture of love and unity,” she said.

Mr Banton was released from a seven-year drug sentence in December. His “Long Walk to Freedom” tour will stop in the Bahamas on March 30 with a performance at the Thomas Robinson A Stadium.

Arguably the country’s most outspoken LGBT activist, Ms Greene is no stranger to hostility, but she said this is the first time she has seen this level of aggression.

“Every time there is an increase in visibility there is an increase in hostility,” she said. “People feel powerless in their ordinary lives. They feel like politicians are taking advantage of them and people in positions of authority are repressing them and so when a gay person who is supposed to be lower than them in the social sphere starts expressing opinions to them it feels damaging.

“Some people have been so impacted that I was given a space to express my personal opinion they feel they have a right to engage me in the same way. There’s one woman who spent most of yesterday afternoon essentially stalking and harassing me on my own (Facebook) wall and her response was ‘you have freedom of speech and say don’t bring Buju, I have freedom of speech and I can harass you on your Facebook wall.’ In a couple of instances people have tagged me in messages not speaking directly to me but saying ‘tell Erin Greene I been looking for sissyville to burn it down.’”

She added: “I am concerned for my own safety and the safety of other members of the community. That’s the biggest issue. Secondly, I’m concerned for my country because it appears my people are in crisis and they need help. Essentially, we have people who are not just demanding the right to listen to a song in a public space about murdering homosexuals by shooting them in the head, but people are expressing that this song is an integral part of their identity, that this song is a big part of how they grew up and how they decided to define themselves as Bahamians. That for me is extremely problematic.”

Ms Greene recounted several recent experiences that have concerned her.

“In one instance, I went to a place that I regularly go to work, like I buy and sell fish, and I went and I sold produce there and dropped off a sample to one of the vendors and a young man decided to shout at me, ‘run all of these sissies and batty man from around here and around town’ and this particular job that I went to, there is a potential for violence in that scene if not moderated and I was concerned by what it appeared he was attempting to do,” she said.

“The second incident happened the next day. That morning I was turning into an establishment and somebody ran a stop sign further down the road and felt that I cut them off when I decided to turn into the establishment and their response was to shout ‘boom bye bye’ at me and so this has spilled into the real world and not just social media. There was another event that I’m still trying to digest. I was alerted to a couple cars in my neighbourhood moving very suspiciously and I haven’t been able to determine what that was.

“There is fear,” she said. “Whenever people act or behave irrationally, concern can turn to fear. What I’m deeply concerned about it people with real, valid issues will irrationally project those issues onto the wrong people, either me or other members of the LGBT.”

Ms Greene suggested she will continue to speak up for her community.

“People should stop trying to intimidate other citizens because those citizens make them uncomfortable,” she said. “I would tell them they have a responsibility to think about their own lives and how they can improve their own lives and stop expecting people to shrink themselves for others’ comfort.”

Comments

joeblow 7 months, 3 weeks ago

People who want to hear ALL of Buju's songs (and I am not one of them) should be able to without the interference of the offended few. After all the offended few don't mind offending the majority with their lifestyle choices, rather they believe you must accept their way of life or be shamed as homophobic!!

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ButchPlease 7 months, 3 weeks ago

First of all, that's not true. Second, thank you for expressing your opinion (however based on misinfomation it may be), without insulting or threatening people. There's a difference between freedom of speech and harrasment and threats. Boom Bye Bye is a threat, and that's why it's a problem. Hopefully you can see it our way for a second. That song is encouraging the killing of gay people, using slurs against LGBT community members. That's why it shouldn't be allowed. Now if it said, "Hey! I don't think being gay is right!" then that's fine, because he's expressing his opinion and we can respect that. Saying you don't like any gay people is also not okay because it's disrimination; you're completely ignoring the fact that someone may be a nice and amazing individual for something that they can't really control (ie love). Nobody ever said that you have to agree with us, and again thank you for stating your opinion, we're just hoping people don't hate on us for who we are. You can't help all the people you offend, you know, especially if it's something like your LIFESTYLE. Your lifestyle is the way you live. and are you saying they should turn around everything about them to fit with how YOU want them to be? What happened to that freedom of speech thing you're talking about? People will be offended. You can't control the way people feel about you, and it's not up to you to decide how people live. If some rando came up to you and said, "Oh, you're black (assuming you are black, whatever race you are if not), I don't like that. Oh, you like the opposite gender, LAME. Change it, you straight, insert race here, piece of garbage.", would you apprecciate that? It's not about accepting their lifestyle. It's about accepting them, as people. As in, be nice. Don't judge a book by one of the smaller chapters in the story. Who you love, what gender you are, what race you are, doesn't define you. It's the choices you make that do.

Again, thanks for the comment. I kinda wanted to get that off my chest without being immediately called stupid afterwards.

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BahamaPundit 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Freedom of speech is very important. Say no to censorship Bahamas. The Bible also says harmul things about homosexuality; should it be censored too?

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ButchPlease 7 months, 3 weeks ago

The Bible also says that women should not be in positions of power, and refers to shrimp more times that being homosexual as an abomination. Do we listen to that? The problem is, not EVERYTHING in the Bible is strictly correct (shocking I know, whatever shall you do with your life now?). That doesn't mean the Bible is bad, it just means that like everything else, its been coloured by people's views. It also says you should love your neighbour and you're doing a TERRIBLE job at that, so I don't see your point here. Also, if there's no censorship then I can curse you out in the street as much as I want and walk around naked. Censorship is there for a reason, you just can't take it too far. However, that stuff about the Bible is a good point. SHOULD it be censored? It says some awful stuff about people sometimes.

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TalRussell 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Yes, no not opposed Comrade BUGU's colony of islands concert but personally prefer to go watch a Gingzilla Performance. Yes, no?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nW9Oz...">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nW9Oz...

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