I swear, after this I’m done with the Akon thing. It’s become a far bigger news story than I expected, and gone on for far too long.

Since it’s finally been picked up by the television news, I knew something had to give. And it was Verizon. After they pulled the financial plug on the Gwen Stefani Sweet Escape tour, I was waiting for the next shoe to drop.

This has been such a controversial issue, I want to state my final opinion with utmost care. Please don’t come at me with that tired what-was-she-doing-there-and-wearing-that-outfit-too argument. I’ve heard it before. And I agree with you – she certainly didn’t look or act like a fourteen/fifteen year old. The club should have been checking ID, she should have never been allowed in. I am in complete agreement with that. She must be the champion wool puller to have fooled her preacher daddy so well for so long. But Danah Alleyne isn’t the only teenager to act this way, she just happened to get caught on tape with an up-and-coming celebrity. In fact, behavior like hers seems to be a trend, teenagers who dress and act like adults, and then have to face adult consequences.

It seems to me that this upcoming generation is growing up at the speed of light. I go to the mall on a Saturday and there they are, large groups of teens who seem to be very involved in elaborate displays of adult role playing. Pouting and preening girls, and swaggering, macho guys. I thought it might be a Miami thing, we live in a sexy city, so perhaps some kids here grow up quicker than they do elsewhere. Either way, I can’t relate to them. But it isn’t just here in Miami. Kids are acting grown all over the world. There have been shocking news stories about kids having sex in classrooms all over the country. Jacksonville, Florida. Fort Worth, Texas. Fifth graders in Louisiana. It’s also happening in Trinidad and ironically, the Virgin Islands. And I thought kids when I was growing up were “bad girls,” but I never heard of anyone having actual sex when I was fourteen, much less in a classroom. And then filming it and putting it up on YouTube? That’s just crazy. But it seems like a real indication that the next generation is becoming sexualized far earlier than my generation was.

“When I was fourteen, I didn’t know how to wine like that!”

“I remember when I was fourteen, I was still playing with dolls.”

“When I was that age, I was scared of boys.”

“I remember when I was fourteen, I was wearing Cross Colors, not dressing like I was being put out on the stroll by Bishop Don Magic Juan.”

Well alright, then. We can sit around and remember our own, relatively innocent youth till the cows come home. But like Tony Soprano said, “Remember when is the lowest form of conversation.” Comparing what you or I were like when we were teenagers doesn’t address the real issues underneath this incident. And accusing a minor of bringing this on herself by acting like a grown woman doesn’t acknowledge the face that Akon’s performance was simulated, graphic sex.

I just watched the video with a Jamaican friend of mine last night. Shockingly, she hadn’t seen or even heard about it before. “What Akon video?” she asked. And she’s a young woman who has been to many a party, and seen the length and breadth of dancehall behavior. So I clicked on WestIndianTube.com, a site that features myriad versions of the Akon video. And we’re watching the first few seconds and she’s like “So what, that’s what we do at Caribbean parties.” Then he drags her across the floor, and her eyes widened and she said, “Whoa!” Then at the end, when he leaves her used, on the ground, she said “how he gon’ jus leave her pon de floor dey so?” My point exactly. It just went way too far, and was not a good look for Akon regardless of age.

I think Akon’s trying to do the same thing that R. Kelly does, somehow balance an image of sexy thug with uplifting songwriter. I don’t understand how it’s working for R. Kelly (I side with Novaslim on that issue), and it’s not gonna work for Akon. Big, impossibly wealthy mega corporations like Verizon don’t throw their money behind liabilities. It’s a simple business decision. And the only reason Snoop Dogg still is doing commercials on TV and representing products is because all he does is rap about it, there hasn’t been a scandalous video of him actually acting out his lyrics.

If Akon wants to bring the action to the stage, it seems to me that he could learn a thing or two from Uncle Luke. Yes, Miami’s own Uncle Luke. He’s been putting on sexually explicit shows for years, and instead of flirting with danger by choosing random audience participants, he’s savvy enough to hire a staff of professional, age appropriate dancers to get freaky during his show.

Akon has done these hypersexed performances all around the world, and his screaming audiences certainly seem to have no problem with that. But it doesn’t fit into the image that his corporate sponsors are supporting. The Akon on stage, giving female audience members an on-stage ride doesn’t jibe with the Akon who croons “Don’t Matter,” or who goes on tour with Gwen Stefani, and sings along to “Sweet Escape.”

I can’t help but wonder if he could have quashed this story himself. If Akon had taken ownership of the incident early, and come forth and said he was sorry back in April when it happened, perhaps the story wouldn’t be dragging on a month later. But his apology only came after money was being taken out of his pocket. It makes me wonder if he’s actually learned anything as a result of all of this.

Six months, a year down the road when Danah Alleyne has been long forgotten, will Akon continue to be cognizant of his on-stage behavior? Will he do a 180 and begin to present himself as an upstanding performer and role model? He really is a talented songwriter, will he use his abilities to uplift and deliver a positive message? As long as the records keep selling, and audiences keep cheering for his raunchy antics, probably not. And so we all move on to the next scandal.

Filed Under:


coco says:
May 10, 2007, 9:31 am
sorry still dont agree with you.... point blank period she shouldnt b there ..... akon is a grown ass man so he can do those type of acts in his show.... Janet did it in her tours so who cares if its graphic... dat gal shoulda neva b dere
bella says:
May 10, 2007, 9:34 am
Coco, like I said repeatedly, I agree with that. But why should Verizon underwrite that kind of thing? He's apologizing for a reason, right?
angieforya says:
May 10, 2007, 9:47 am
I think our youth will continue to go down a over-sexed path because we ourselves...the adults are over-sexed. They are just acting out what they see. That "little" girl is not really to blame...her mother, or the women she sees through mainstream, and our men who suport them are at fault. Until both genders within our culture decide together that that is not an attractive look, there is nothing we can really say to change it. Until we stop taking sides with statements like "well, thats how we dance, or thats how kids dance, etc." what do we think is going to change? The first step is with our women, don't portray that dressing "sexy" is sexy! stop putting false influences on superficial things that do not really make up the true beauty of our wombanhood...we have a long road ahead of us in this case..nevertheless, I definitely think that Verizon should back out of the deal...no respectable company want a spokesperson who grinds and dines on their mainstream commercials...GO Verizon! Oh, and remember when 13 year old girls were cnsidered women and were maried at many times and acted accordingly..it's funny how times, opinions, and personalities change over time...what do you bellas think about that?
cassi says:
May 10, 2007, 9:53 am
Hi Bella.... Well my take on this is that Akon, was the adult and Danah, was the child. I agree she should not have been there, but we need to look at who was at the door and allowed her to enter. Teens, do crazy things and this is one of them...it's also a lesson learned by both. He should apologize, that's no more than right. Hopefully, there won't be a next time and he can get this behind him and move forward w/his music. Danah, may be 15 but she is not a baby and she knew this was wrong.....however, there is so much peer pressure to "fit in" these days. Dressing sexy and acting sexy, seem to be hip as well. Children, tend to act on what they see/hear. If we want positive things to come from our children, then we have to surround them with positive things! I hope both sides are able to move forward.......Bella, you keep it real all the time.......
angieforya says:
May 10, 2007, 9:54 am
Ps: Akon is only apologizing because that is what is Kosher and his publicist had a hand in making that happen I'm sure, but give that boy the same opportunity without the cameras off, and he would probably do it again. Sorry I really don't like Akon..how you gonna sing songs like "Mama Africa" and then make a crazy song like "Smack That"?
cassi says:
May 10, 2007, 10:04 am
Angie, I do agree w/you...it seems like when a celebrity does something wrong, he/she feels like they can say "sorry" and it's all over. They both need to think about what they've done...however, I do put 99%of the blame on him....he is the adult.
suzette says:
May 10, 2007, 10:16 am
While I agree that Danah should NOT have been there to begin with, I'm more angry over the fact that women (and men) still hold that girl responsible for the actions of a GROWN MAN! We constantly side with the male in these cases whether they are President (Bill Clinton), athletes (Kobe Bryant), singers (Akon & R. Kelly), or whomever. Why are GIRLS and YOUNG WOMEN held to ridiculous standards of sexual responsibility for the actions of men who are older than they are? I'm aware of the ludicrous double standard regarding sex, but when are we going to stop treating men like simpletons and make them responsible? Part of the reason the black community is in shambles is because we give our men carte blanche to act a fool. If we are going to make females more responsible, let's start with making men pay the cost to be the boss! Or does anyone even know what that means anymore?
Nichelle says:
May 10, 2007, 10:29 am
I agree with you wholeheartedly Suzette!
Tysha says:
May 10, 2007, 11:00 am
Bella,You are saying something Sis. I agree with Suzette as well. Recently, Maya Angelou spoke of our culture on a CBS interview, now on YouTube.com. She expressed some interesting points.
Kino Kid says:
May 10, 2007, 11:02 am
It's funny how the first comment is about whether the young lady should have been there or not, when you explicitly said it was not the focus of the post. For the record, I am 34 and if someone did that to me or one of my friends last weekend, it would have been no more appropriate. Honestly, this has nothing to do with her actions, and displaces the responsibility. It's sad that the old "Asking for it" rationale still gets thrown around, as it is so tired. This is exactly why people do not report abuse or assault. People automatically point the finger back at the wrong person, and worse many people internalize this and believe they are to blame. As for Akon's actions and his apology. The day I read about and saw the video, I simply made a decision to never buy an album of his or purchase anything associated with him. I also told people of my choice when it came up in conversation. If there is a product I like that is endorsed by him, I will write a letter to the advertiser and tell them why I won't buy their product. It takes about 5 minutes to craft a letter such as this.
checkmymelonie says:
May 10, 2007, 11:39 am
Much love to Suzette for her thoughtful commentary on how black women and girls automatically get blamed for the actions of a black male, i.e. R.Kelly (which can still infuriate me, especially as people were saying he was "set up". Huh?!!) The way he threw her around and just left her on the floor really shocked and disgusted me. I don't care how she got in or what she wore...the fact that it's completely acceptable to do that to a woman or girl floors me. He didn't even offer her a hand to help her up. The fact that people are defending his behavior truly lets me know how sexualized and expendable women of color are seen. And although I wasn't in danger of buying any Akon albums (to be frank, his vocal talents suck) and never respected his opinions (i.e. conflict diamonds don't exist), I damn sure won't after this whole incident. And this may be a post in my own blog but I'm feeling betrayed by black men in the public eye, i.e. D.L. Hughley's highly disheartening commentary about the Rutgers women on Jay Leno. Fab post as always!!
grownnsxc says:
May 10, 2007, 12:16 pm
Hey AfroBella and all! Totally agree with your point on Akon trying to walk the fine line between innocent, uplifting songwriter and freaky, R&B thug. His apology to me was toatlly insincere since we all know that it was basically about money. He's not truly sorry for what went down between he and that girl. And Verizon had every right to pull out of the tour, although I do feel bad for Gwen cause now she's caught in the middle of something that she totally had nothing to do with. HOWEVER, I do have to speak to the points of Suzette and a few others. When you go to an Akon concert, you pretty much know what you are going to get. Songs like "Smack That" and "I Want to F You" are pretty clear in their meaning. So it's very suprising to me when people are up in arms regarding a man who has been very public with his on stage antics. I saw the Tara Reid tape, as did many others, and he obviously does this at majority of his shows. I am not mad at the club for not properly securing the facilities and I am not mad at Akon for doing something that he does at every show. Rather, I am mad at her parents for not knowing where their dang child was. I don't have to use the "when I was young" excuse cause there are no stories to tell from when I was young. My momma knew where I was at all times of the day and even when I tried to get out of pocket, I had the fear of God in me that she would find out. There is no way in hell I would have even tried to get into a 18 & up club LET ALONE gotten on stage at said venue. I don't care if they were promising a trip to heaven. The fact that she did that is pretty bold to me and tells me something about her home life which, in my opinion, is what we as a community need to be focusing on. How do we get back to properly raising our children?
Monica says:
May 10, 2007, 12:17 pm
I completely agree with most of these comments. I STRONGLY believe that black culture is extremely mysoginistic (sp). We blame everything on the black woman. AKON IS AN ADULT. What black men and women fail to do is hold BLACK MEN ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS! You should see the comments that were on Perez H. and dlisted.com There readers (mostly non-black) were calling Akon an animial, out of control monkey, etc. Black people fail to understand the impact of this behavoir on our culture. Instead we look at 10, 12 and 14 year girls and blame them for this behavoir. We NEVER address black men. Therefore these men continue to act a fool. Point blank, if Akon hadn't done this, there would be no discussion. Stop blaming underage girls and children for acting immature when they see adults act like fools. Adult men and women need to set examples and act with some restraint IN PUBLIC! Akon is done! I hope other companies boycott his behind. Looking at this made my stomach turn on so many levels. I'm tired of seeing such ignorance from my culture. PS If Akon had been white man doing the same thing to this young lady, yall would have been outraged!
angieforya says:
May 10, 2007, 12:23 pm
Monica: I get what you are saying, but the initial change for our people is THE BLACK WOMAN!!! Our men will follow..so yes, it is our responsibility...we hold a lot of cloudt within how we portray ourselves. Our men and communities, and our homes...raising our children... will all fall into place once our women get it together.....
Bridgette says:
May 10, 2007, 12:29 pm
I agree that Akon should be held responsible. I wonder if he would have still engaged in the same activity if he knew she was a minor. Maybe this makes me naive, but I don't think he would have. I'm not trying to diminish the fact that he was grinding on a female that way. Because I agree, it isn't appropriate regardless of the age. But, he was led to believe that only adults would be in the club. The owner/bouncers obviously missed something. Also, where were Ms Alleyne's parents? Do they allow her to dress that way? Did they know where she was? Or, did they think she was with friends? If so, perhaps they didn't judge those friends' parents right. I feel that Akon definitely shoulders responsibility but I feel the club owners and the girl's parents should share the blame. Because she was a minor (and we've all done stupid things as teens because of peer pressure or whatever) I don't lay much blame on her. I do hope she has learned a valuable lesson from this entire situation though. Finally, we must all admit that we are seriously in a sexually over-charged world. I have a two year old daughter and I have found very inappropriate clothing in stores in her size. A lot of people think it's cute at that age but I am responsible for teaching her to act, think, and dress like a respectable child to grow up to be a responsible young lady. From magazines, commercials, TV shows to movies, sex is everywhere. It doesn't matter anymore if you're married or not. It doesn't matter if it's done in the privacy of one's home or not. It doesn't matter if we wear clothing that reveals all our goodies to the beach, Walmart, the mall, the nightclub, or even church. Sex is everywhere!
BLESS says:
May 10, 2007, 12:37 pm
ANGIE...I completely agree with you. The BLACK WOMAN is the catalyst for change in our community. YES INDEED!! A man will only do what a WOMAN allows him to do. Period. End of story. We have got to have more respect for ourselves as a whole along with learning what we should and should not do. I'm sorry...no wait...no I'm not...but we women have to stop crying foul when something goes awry and stand up and DEMAND our respect. Now this also includes knowing how to carry ourselves so that respect is given.
Lady P says:
May 10, 2007, 12:37 pm
I wholeheartedly disagree with you Bella about this Akon incident. The club was for patrons 18 years and older, and they failed to properly monitor who was coming into the club. Secondly, that teenage girl's parents knew that she was attending that concert and made no move to stop her. In addition, I truly believe that you have some prejudices against Jamaican people. Most of your comments pertaining to Jamaicans are often negative (i.e. your friend's apathetic attitude towards the controversy, your previous comments insinuating that all Jamaican people are homophobic and close-minded). Lastly, please don't forget that CARNIVAL, which is held in Trinidad, is well known for its sexy dancing, so please stop acting as if Akon's behavior is anything new. I saw the youtube footage and was thoroughly repulsed by the perverted acts, but his lyrics aren't exactly zestfully clean, and I'm sure that the young girl knew this before she attended the concert. While you're denouncing Akon, make sure that you denounce ALL of the responsible parties involved.
Monica says:
May 10, 2007, 12:50 pm
Yes, this young girl should not have been there but we are still forgetting that Akon is an adult. He was more in control of that situation than she was. He DIDN'T have to do what he did. Why is it acceptable for him to simultae sex on stage? That's appropriate at a strip club, but that's it. Is Akon respecting himself? Just as much as you want an immature 14 year old girl to have respect for herself, you negate asking a GROWN ASS man to do the same. Does that make sense? (
BLESS says:
May 10, 2007, 1:05 pm
This may be opening a can of worms but I so enjoy thought provoking discussion. LadyP I have to respectfully disagree with your calling out of bella on this point in particular "your previous comments insinuating that all Jamaican people are homophobic and close-minded" Every last West Indian (not only Jamaican) I know and have grown up with in my family (I'm not West Indian but quite a few of my aunts, uncles and cousins are) do not "smile" on homosexuality. I have heard so many "beat down" comments for the chichi man and bati bwoy (sp?) that it's not even funny. In fact I had a cousin tell me that a friend of his was beat in the streets of Jamaica and left to die (which sadly happened) just because he was gay. Now if that doesn't scream homophobic I don't know what does.
MochaSiren says:
May 10, 2007, 1:06 pm
Can some of the younger bellas please tell me what was so great about this guy in the first place? Yes, I've seen the Gwen Stefani video, etc. but to me his behavior is just so indicative of the garbage that we are constantly subjected to. I really don't get today's music. Ironically, the only "current" music I like usually has an "old" sound. I'm soon to be 36 which is still young but I would love to get stuck in a perpetual music time warp any day of the week! If you haven't already read Afrobella's great blurb on Stevie Wonder today, please do...oh the good ol' days! :-)
tiffany says:
May 10, 2007, 1:17 pm
Hi Afrobella I take it that you read my blog and apparently a couple of others who might have the same thought that I do. It's not that the girl is partly to blame, I am in agreement with the fact that the club should have been checking Id but what if they were? you know it is real easy to get fake duplicated state Identification, we can't just up and say that it is the clubs fault because we don't know exactly how she was able to get in but the fact remains she had no prior business being there and as I stated in my blog before "that is why these clubs say 18 and older" when I was 15 I was able to get fake Id and hit any club spot I wanted... at 15, I had to look the part so they won't discredit my fake Id. What went on in those clubs I could not handle and it was a dangerous situation that I put myself in and she could have been in real danger herself, so what if this situation had not happened and another did? where as the girl could have been raped and left for dead, when our parents tell us to not go to these clubs it is for a reason and when they tell us to be home by ten its for a reason not only that they have clubs specifically made for teens that are 14 to 17yrs now if akon was to hit one of those clubs that type of behavior that Akon had displayed would not be happening for the fact that he would be aware of what type of club he is in so his career would not be smashed. Now the way he just left the girl like that on the floor that is a typical man who has just finished doing what he does best, does that make it right? no! do I think Akons behavior was disgusting? of course! but when this girl chose to be an adult she chose to make an adult decision and do things that only adults choose to do and she cannot handle that at her age.
tiffany says:
May 10, 2007, 1:20 pm
oh and another thing I don't think its right for verizon to pull sponsorship from Akon or anyone affiliated. now that does not make plain sense
Lady P says:
May 10, 2007, 1:24 pm
@BLESS...you are incorrect. ALL Caribbean people are not homophobic. Maybe all of the ones that you know are, but you can not generalize a group of people.
tiffany says:
May 10, 2007, 1:28 pm
what I meant to say is that verizon should not have pulled sponsorship from gwen maybe the akon commercial should be pulled and rip his contract but it does not make plain sense being that gwen suffers from his actions maybe if she takes him out of opening act there would not be a problem. sorry I should have corrected myself before I pushed enter
Nichelle says:
May 10, 2007, 1:42 pm
Monica: I get what you are saying, but the initial change for our people is THE BLACK WOMAN!!! Our men will follow.. With all due respect Monica, since when have they done that? so yes, it is our responsibility…we hold a lot of cloudt within how we portray ourselves. In my opinion, this placess 100% of the responsibility - yet again - solely on black women's shoulders. There are plenty of Black women who portray themselves VERY respectably - above board always. We are always conscious of our image (i.e., being labeled as "hoes" or "angry and aggressive" and many of us go overboard to avoid being seen in this way. And yet, we still get lumped in with everyone deemed to be a "hoe" or a "bitch" anyway (the either/or "madonna/whore" complex). We can't win for losing. Our men and communities, and our homes…raising our children… will all fall into place once our women get it together….. Plenty of black women already have it together - but but the big secret is out - black women are not superwomen! We can't continually do everything by ourselves. In my opinion, it is perfectly OK to require black men to "get it together " too.
JJ says:
May 10, 2007, 1:44 pm
Bella - I agree with your point about Verizon making a business decision against sponsoring his tour. We can debate who was and who wasn't at fault regarding this incident but as soon as the incident occurred and it was revealed that she was 14, Akon and everyone else should have forseen that Verizon would pull the sponsorship. What artists/entertainers fail to understand is that once you start going to the corporate sector for financing, there is a different standard regarding what is acceptable. Verizon is only concerned with how their brand is perceived by the public. No company wants their image tarnished. It's dollars and cents. If he fails to learn the moral lesson, I bet he's learned the financial one.
tiffany says:
May 10, 2007, 1:52 pm
there are some who say that Akon should have carry himself like an adult and not do sex simulated things now I agree he was wilding out but we can't front we had no problem whatsoever when R.kelly and public anouncment was doing the same thing or when Htown came out with knockin the boots or when color me bad came out with I wanna sex you up all did nasty sex simulated things and had no problems so whats the difference between now and then? I'm not making an excuse even I thought those songs were nasty back then but really.... and for the person that said our children is acting out what we do or what they see that is so true but what they see is in music videos they look at that and mimic what the video vixen has been portrayed and the boys mimic what these rappers are saying dressing and acting and if we say lets stop watching bet or mtv and ban hot 97 so forth and so on maybe there is hope for the future all I know is that I don't watch music videos nor do I listen to the radio that muchand my 7yrold daughter still dosen't know how to whine bootyhop or whatever dance there is out there.
maria says:
May 10, 2007, 1:57 pm
i don't care much for akon's apologies. the most disturbing thing is his reaction (or rather, the lack of it) after the whole fiasco. i'm sure he and his people heard the reports that the girl was under age - they sure did work hard to get that clip off youtube citing copyright issues or whatever. it says alot that only when it became "big news" i.e cnn and all the rest and verizon stopped the sponsoring did he feel the need to say that he didn't know the girl was under age. we can go on and on about who is to blame. maybe her parents should have kept better tabs on their child. maybe she was too young to know any better. maybe the club shouldn't have let under age girls in. maybe akon thought she was of appropriate age (i'm not excusing his disgusting satge antics by the way). the fact of the matter is, even after all that he didn't care. no statement, no apology, nothing. only when its going to hurt his image and sales does his management team release a statement. that says alot about how akon feels about women in general and women of colour in specific. if before i wasn't going to have any of his songs on my playist ('smack that' and 'i want to "love" you' put me off ages ago) now it's because he shows a lack of respect. someone like that doesn't deserve my money.
BLESS says:
May 10, 2007, 2:11 pm
Lady P...I did not generalize a group of people I specifically said "Every last West Indian (not only Jamaican) I know and have grown up with in my family (I’m not West Indian but quite a few of my aunts, uncles and cousins are) do not “smile” on homosexuality." I was simply cosigning that homophobia and aversion to homosexuality in the West Indian culture is more the "norm" than not.
afrobella says:
May 10, 2007, 2:12 pm
Wow. You go to lunch, come back, and look at the kinds of things people are saying. First things first, Lady P. I have lots of Jamaican friends, in fact the majority of Caribbean people I hang out with here in Miami are Jamaican. If you'll take the time to actually READ what I said, I clearly stated that my Jamaican friend INITIALLY dismissed it, but she too was horrified by the end of it. Perhaps if you had read my original post about the Akon issue, you'll see that I also bring up Trinidad's Carnival. Trinidadian culture has always embraced sexuality, but back in the day, double entendre was used to hide the meaning behind many of our calypsos. There is an accepted norm of sexy dancing in Caribbean culture, and I don't see anything wrong with grown folks enjoying themselves however they see fit. BUT, the Akon thing was outside of the norm. That performance was more brutal and much worse than others I have seen. You don't usually see someone being dragged on the ground. My Jamaican friend, and many of the other Caribbean bloggers who have addressed the issue, agree with me on that point. I love my culture, and I also love Jamaican culture. I've written many, many positive things about reggae music, and I love the aspect of the dancehall that's about everyone doing the same dance -- not dutty wine -- but pon the river, pon the bank, thunder clap, signal the plane... that kind of stuff is fun to get into. And it's not necessarily inciting sexuality from an early age. So what more can I say that I haven't already said that I didn't clearly state from the beginning? The girl wanted to go out and dress sexy and be celebrated as a grown woman acting sexy. She was wrong to sneak out, or fool her parents, or whatever she did. The club was wrong for letting her in, that's obvious and I said that already. And as Tiffany brought up, it's too easy for underage girls to get into these places anyway. But my whole point is, Akon's performance went beyond the limits of acceptability. That's why his sponsorship got pulled, that's why he's apologizing. And please feel free to show me an article where I've made any categorical, sweeping statements about all Jamaican people, or ANY people for that matter. I know that Jamaicans don't all feel that way, that's obvious. But you can't deny news reports like this. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/html/20070428T020000-0500_122324_OBS_MOB_BEATS_CROSS_DRESSER.asp That horrible photo doesn't paint a pretty picture, and it's a real issue that needs to be addressed throughout the Caribbean. Thanks for writing and sharing your opinions.
Lady P says:
May 10, 2007, 2:26 pm
@Bless- I did not say that homophobia does not exist within the Caribbean community. But for you to say "Every last West Indian (not only Jamaican) I know and have grown up with in my family (I’m not West Indian but quite a few of my aunts, uncles and cousins are) do not “smile” on homosexuality.” insinuates that all Caribbean people share the same beliefs. I know a lot of Caribbean people who frown on homosexuality, but I also know of plenty of Caribbean people who do not share this belief. My comment to Bella was geared toward a tidbit she made in the past in which she made a reference to homosexuality and she said that her country was not as close-minded and homophobic as Jamaica. One can bring up the positive aspects of their own home without having to enhance the negative aspects of another's home. Yes, there are a lot of problems pertaining to this issue in Jamaica, but her comment was extremely distasteful and somewhat condescending.
BLESS says:
May 10, 2007, 2:41 pm
LadyP...Stating what I know as fact also has nothing to do with insinuations. I did not "insinuate" anything. I "stated" what I have been exposed to, what my outlook has been. I am not going to engage in a back and forth with you concerning what I know for a FACT in MY EXPERIENCE (using capitals because I haven't figured out how to use italics on this forum). Engaging in a back and forth is not something that was my intent nor will it accomplish anything because it's quite obvious you have your point that you're sticking to and I have mine. So again (as I began this) I will have to respectfully disagree with you.
afrobella says:
May 10, 2007, 2:49 pm
Lady P, I also hate when all Caribbean people are lumped into a negative category, and that's part of what my original Akon post was about. But I can only speak for what I know to be true. We do have a very strong, and generally open gay population in Trinidad, having grown up there I can speak from experience. And most of the news I read about homosexuals in Jamaica is tragic and frightening. Feel free to prove me wrong. Enlighten me by showing me where I was incorrect. Introduce me to a fresh perspective. I applaud the efforts of groups like JFlag, and I also had an amazing interview with Tanya Stephens, a dancehall artist with an opposing point of view. She was very honest about her own feelings about homophobia in Jamaica. http://afrobella.com/?p=121 If you felt that I've made a "extremely distasteful and somewhat condescending" comment, sorry. But I can't address it directly if I don't even know what you're talking about.
Niki says:
May 10, 2007, 3:10 pm
I never liked Akon at all, even before this incident. IMO, he can't sing,his songs are not even good party records, he has little to no stage presence, and I am not even going to go there on his looks...
Lady P says:
May 10, 2007, 3:18 pm
Bella, I am not saying that it is not dangerous to be openly gay in Jamaica; I am merely pointing out that expressing your country's strides while putting down another country is offensive. I was looking for the comment that you made, but admittedly I can't seem to find it. Although it was merely one sentence,I just believe that it was totally unnecessary. But as you mentioned, JFlag is taking steps to support gay rights, and I previously read your interview with Tanya Stephens(along with the fact that I have all of her CDs), so we are making some progress. It's just disheartening for all of the negativity to outshine the positive aspects. BLESS, since I am at work, I no longer have the time to speak with you about this issue. However, please note that you are the one who wrote "This may be opening a can of worms but I so enjoy thought provoking discussion," and this was the reason why I responded to your ignorant comment. Please enjoy the rest of your day and feel free to get educated on the issues.
tiffany says:
May 10, 2007, 3:50 pm
this is too freaking crazy man ya'll went from Akon to jamaicans being homophobic or openly gay whatever issue that got everybody in an uproar one thing I'm going to say is that my husbands family is jamaican mixed and those who came from the island would know, There were many times I have heard some comments about a jamaican being a homosexual and whatwould happen from a jamaican person, but I think that the black community as a whole is going through that issue thats why so many brothers are on the down low and so many sisters are getting HIV/AIDS because they are afraid of being scrutinized by the rest of the black community. In the black community it is considered wrong and you are cast out or what ever the case may be but if more men weren't so afraid of getting beat down in jamaica as well as the americas and africa and more willing to accept the fact that they are gay then it would save women a whole lot of trouble but women also need to take necessary precautions to protect themselves thats all my cents LOL
angieforya says:
May 10, 2007, 3:51 pm
Geee!!! I did not mean that all of our women are not taking responsibility...I know much better than to make aaccusation like that, what I meant was...the women who are portraying themselves like this...we women who are respecting themselves can influence the women who are not to change things..thats all. Its real simple. Yes ofcourse,our men have to do the same...Gee!!!
tiffany says:
May 10, 2007, 4:02 pm
hey angie see I am in agreement with you I am actually not contradicting you in any way when I say that young girls are being portrayed as video vixens and we need to teach our young ones actually I was adding to your response because you made sense no need for the sarcasm.
Monica says:
May 10, 2007, 5:34 pm
I think what bothers me is that black women and men to refuse to hold black men accountable for their actions. Why can't some of us do that? Why must we depend on the black woman to fix every thing? Can we require our black men to act like gentleman? Is that too much? You want women to act like ladies but it's ok for our men to act like sex, crazed monkies aka AKON? Akon is a married man. What is a married man doing on stage simulating sex with a random woman? Why is that acceptable to most of you? Akon was clearly out of line. That video was dispicable. End of story. Akon had more control of that situation. If you look at the video, there were women in the front row that clearly looked above 18. Akon CHOSE to perform this sexually on stage? Why would any self-respecting man do that? Why haven't some of you questioned that?
Monica says:
May 10, 2007, 5:43 pm
People have to understand that our men have a choice when they cast these video vixens. They DON'T HAVE TO CAST THEM? Why must most black videos from some of these rappers be in strip clubs. The rap song could be out unicorns, diapers, rainbows and fairies BUT THE VIDEO IS ALWAYS AT A STRIP CLUB. Stop acting like these men are so powerless and have no control when it comes to women. Why is the lowest common denominator tolerated in our community? You want these black women to respect themselves but you don't ask this of our men? If want women to respect themsleves, they need to cast the women that do and ignore the video hos. It's easy. Not all black women are willing to disrespect themselves.
angieforya says:
May 10, 2007, 6:34 pm
hi tiffany! oh I know, forgive me for the mis-understanding,it was directed to another post...Monica: as I said,I agree with you,I was just stating that women have just as much power too. I think we know that ou men are not powerless...and NO it is not ok for our men to act like this....thee areplenty of good men..our men...and no need to question...Akon is not "self-respecting" this is why he does what he does.
Monica says:
May 10, 2007, 6:52 pm
Yes, you said - "Akon is not 'self respecting' this is why he does what he does." So, since you've admitted he's not self respecting, then why should he receive corporate sponsorship? I would not want someone like this anywhere near global brand. That's the consequence of acting like a whore. Yes, some men are whores. Some of you claim these women act like whores should expect to be treated as such. Well, please apply that logic to men. Akon acted like a crazed whore on stage who is now getting shunned by corporate America. If you want to play on a national or global stage, YOU MUST ADJUST YOUR STANDARDS. If you can't do that stay local. I believe in freedom of expression but it comes with some responsibility. Don't act like a whore and expet corporate America to support your 'freedom of expression.'
tiffany says:
May 10, 2007, 8:01 pm
In the music industry it is predominantly run by men. Men may have self control but no matter how you look at things woman are nothing but sexual beings in their minds, they are going to cast video vixens weather we like it or not, the video vixens are going to act the part in the videos, but the people who complain at the same time watching these videos are giving these rappers much clout. The way to stop is to do something about it, stop watching the videos, stop listening to the songs, stop buying their music and eventually they will lose record sales and get the picture. We can sit up here and complain about Akon and his disgusting act but it won't go so far unless we do something about it. Akon is going to keep making sales and keep making music and he's going to keep humping on girls like he's some type of dog because people will keep buying his music. Did Akon parade around like some whore? LOL yes I think so,, men who act like this are they whores? I would call it that but we all know how it is in this world he is not going to be called a whore, because its whats in with men they acknowledge that type of behavior call eachother playa and pimp but we get called out of our names, nothing new, its been like that for years and women has been taking it for years now that the Imus case is through more women are now realizing that this is something we should have been on in the first place and thats to stop giving these rappers much credibility. Trust me men know what they are doing are they going to stop? a big fat no! but if we took a stand against their music maybe they will.
angieforya says:
May 10, 2007, 8:35 pm
Monica: I think my posts must be getting crossed somehow...If you read my first post...I was the one who said that I was happy that Verizon pulled out...in total agreeance...he should NOT have sponsorship!
michelc says:
May 11, 2007, 1:08 am
First I would like to say to ms. Bella that I enjoy your insiteful blog, and although I prefer to read and keep it moving, I will risk being the johnny come lately on this issue. When issues like these pop up I think the black community has fallen into a trend of us vs them as in men vs women. I find it disturbing since it clouds the issue and keeps us treading water as oppose to finding a solution. Putting Akon on the cross for being tasteless (and that is what it realy comes down to a matter of taste) while trying to part out who gets the bigger share of blame hides the fact that there is plenty for everyone. Enough for the parents who obviousely did not know there child that well, the venue that failed in there job of checking ID, Akon for showing bad taste(again a matter of opinion), Verizon for being the typical hypocritical corperation that will not think twice about recruiting questionable pitch men but then throw them under the bus when things get hot (also of small intrest there are still artist on verizons payroll with an even more suspect behavior in there folders yet have not face anyones wrath. I wonder if it could be because there white?). While were at it lets not froget the record labels the who we do not write letters to, the radio shows we do not call in to complain to about there play list, and the previous generation that loves "Sexual Healing" but takes offense with "Smack That" something that im sure that many women would'nt mind with the right man. And last but not least the black males of my generation who are silent on these issues, and the black women who did not have it coming but did not say no when it came. Akon is a small part in all of this and I think it is unfair to make him the poster child or even worse compare him to R.Kelly who knew how old the girl was and didnt simulate a sexual act but did it and than relieved himself on her. Were all to blame and the soulution is a team effort starting with having a friendly conversation with the member of the opposite sex in your area regardless if the topic was brought up or not. again thank thank you ms. Bella for the great blog. p.s. I have been to trini carnivals, brazillian carnivals and a couple of Jamaican "Passa Passa" events from what ive seen there still some more blame to dish out.
JayDub says:
May 11, 2007, 2:05 am
I have to disagree with your opinion. I can't stand Akon or his music so I hate having to stick up for him but I truly do not think he was at fault in this situation. He was performing at an 18 and over venue, it was only safe to assume that all in attendance were adults. I found Akon's moves to be tasteless and offensive but he's an adult, he can do what he pleases. If you don't like it, boycott him and try to get others to do the same. For the record, I also find his music offensive and his voice and lyrics to be substandard, therefore I do not listen to or purchase his music but I don't think he's 100% or even 50% to blame for this situation. Unlike R. Kelly, Akon did not know that girl's age nor did he perform a sexual act with her. Akon called for some girls to come on stage and she jumped up there real quick and from the pictures I've seen online, she was on top of him for a lot of the performance and simulating riding him. Forgetting for the moment that she was dressed inappropriately, had a tattoo and lied about her age to get into a venue she had to busines being in. She VOLUNTARILY got on stage and danced with him, then all of a sudden, once she was busted, she was a good little church girls who's never done anything like that and is sorry. While I agree that commercial music and videos are now generally obscene and setting bad examples to all that watch them (not just the youth). I find the really disturbing part to be that these children are not being raised properly by their parents. It all starts at home. Why was this girl allowed to be out at that time of night? Why does she have a tattoo? Why does she own that type of clothing? Why is her father pointing the finger to Akon and not asking what part he played in this situation by not being an aware parent? I'm an adult living on my own and to this day, if my parents saw me wearing something like that, there would be repercussions. I understand that all girls are not as lucky as I am to have had such loving and involved parents but we can't expect the world to change to make up for the job parents are not doing.
edw says:
May 11, 2007, 2:28 am
JayDub, your comment was SPOT ON! I shall not type another word.
afrobella says:
May 11, 2007, 1:31 pm
I am not disagreeing with those of you who point out that the girl (and definitely her parents, who are clearly enablers) is to blame for what happened. I saw the photo of her on TMZ today, I've seen her MySpace. She's representative of that trend I see, of young girls who believe they're all grown up and strive to be desired at inappropriate ages. I think that there are multiple parties to be blamed here. But I don't blame Verizon one bit for pulling sponsorship from someone who performs like Akon does. You hardly ever hear about big corporations like that putting their money behind someone who could possibly bring shame to their business.
yuhboy says:
May 12, 2007, 10:12 pm
What a cheap way to experience her 15 minutes of fame.
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