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Church of Scotland

Clergywomen criticise cruise DJ for playing R. Kelly and mistreating black women

A group of vicars on a clergywomen's holiday with Carnival Magic cruises have complained about the ignoring of black women in their party by a cruise ship DJ. 

The DJ, DJ Bl4ck Zoe, is said to have refused to stop playing a track by R. Kelly, the American rap artist who has recently been accused of sexual assault by many women, R. Kelly denies the claims. 

The most recent allegation is that a tape featuring him and a 14 year-old girl has been sent to American channel CNN, who say it shows force and sexual assualt of the underage girl. 

In January 63 clergywomen went on holiday together: "Unfortunately, for 9 of us who identify as Black women, our time aboard the Carnival Magic was colored by our experiences of taunting and discrimination at the hand of the ship’s employees" they wrote. 

The women, who are part of the online community called 'RevGalBlogPals' wrote online: "Hearing his music offended not only our group, but more than a dozen others in the nightclub. When we all gathered around the DJ Bl4ck Zoe’s booth to request that he change the music, he laughed at us all, shrugged his shoulders, began singing and dancing, and refused to honor our request. This led us to leave the venue, only to be made fun of by the DJ in another part of the ship later on that night". 

They write that there were repeated taunts and they requested the first DJ be removed from his duties. Security were called to quiten them and over the next four days they met with officials to ask them to train their staff appropriately and asked for the "removal of offensive and triggering music from the ship playlist, and compensation for time spent on this issue instead of the respite that we paid for". 

Rev Teri Peterson from St John’s Church in Gourock, Inverclyde was not present in the nightclub but is on the board at RevGalBlogPals and said: "On the second night of our cruise on the Carnival Magic, a number of black women in our group were in the nightclub dancing.

"The DJ began to play a song by R Kelly, and the women in the club - not just those in our group - asked him to stop.

"His response was to sing and dance along and mock them. The women all left the club. Later that night, elsewhere on the ship, they saw him and he proceeded to sing the song again and to mock them.

"The next time he saw them in the club - they went before his shift began and were packing up to leave when he arrived - he played and sang along to Blurred Lines while looking at them."

Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke was banned by many student unions when it was released due to its lyrics that many thought suggested that consent is not necessary for sex. 

Rev Peterson continued: "The response of the management on the ship was lacklustre until the white women in our group also got involved, at which point they began to appear to take the complaint more seriously, and had meetings with various people including the Guest Services Director, Entertainment Director, and Cruise Director.

"These meetings were not offered to the black women who initially complained about their treatment by the DJ, and the full complement of management staff was not involved until the third incident of harassment had taken place.

"RevGalBlogPals has sailed with Carnival on eight occasions, and will not do so again". 

The DJ was removed by day five and each woman was give $100 but the songs were not removed. 

Carnival, the cruise company responded to the complaint made by Rev Julia Seymour, the board president, saying: "we feel that the onboard credit we offered was appropriate" and that "we will not have our record of inclusion and diversity called into question". 

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