Should Artists of “Murder Music” Be Issued U.S. Visas?

“Art” is supposed to open your mind to new possibilities, not to showcase a closed mind.

“Boom bye bye Inna batty bwoy head” when translated means, “shoot and kill a gay man in the head.”

This is an anti-gay reggae dancehall song by Buju Banton. This lyric is one of many examples of hate music productions by artists who visualize winning Grammy awards, making millions. Dancehall reggae music is known for its violent content and discontent toward the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender Communities (LGBT).

While the O and P visas are great options to come to America to make money for recording and performing artists, some people are asking if the U.S. dollar should be used to support hate. As Bounty Killer (a famous Reggae Artist) is begging for a visa in a video to come back to the United States, others are asking that the U.S. stand behind its denial of such visas, while considering an out and out boycott of Jamaican Reggae, until such time as the murder inducing hate by revered artists stops once and for all.

The risk of harm to society if the applicant is admitted

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) establishes the types of visas available for travel to the United States and what conditions must be met before an applicant can be issued a particular type of visa. The situations which make a visa applicant ineligible for a visa, called visa ineligibilities, are found in the INA, and other immigration laws.

When a visa applicant applies for a visa, a consular officer at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the United States determines whether the applicant is qualified, under all applicable U.S. laws, to receive the particular visa applied for. Applicants found qualified are issued visas after all necessary processing is completed. However, the Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) authorizes consular officers to revoke a nonimmigrant visa at any time, in his or her discretion if the consular officer determines that the applicant is ineligible to receive a visa . A consular officer may consider the applicant’s criminal history, record of illness, or other negative factors.

The INA waiver provision allows applicants for admission as nonimmigrants to overcome almost any ground of inadmissibility.  The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has set forth criteria to be evaluated by the Attorney General in making a discretionary determination. The BIA listed three criteria for determining whether to approve or deny a waiver:

1. The risk of harm to society if the applicant is admitted;

2. The seriousness of the applicant’s prior immigration law, or criminal law, violations, if any; and

3. The reasons for wishing to enter the US.

The lyrics above falls into the category of “Murder Music” since it incites violence against the LGBT community would fall into the category of “the risk of harm to society if the applicant is admitted.”

Growing up in Jamaica, I was aware of the strong anti-gay sentiments held by the society at large. Being labeled a “sodomite”, “batty bwoy”, “mawma-man”or “chi-chi man”  in school, would get you bullied, while it would most likely lead to literally death, if you were an adult. It is still pretty much the same today and the U.S. based Human Rights Watch has referred to Jamaica as “The Most Homophobic Place on Earth”

Jamaican LGBT Activist Asks Pres. Obama To Keep Visa Ban On Anti-LGBT Reggae Artists

Jason Latty is a Jamaican born human rights activist who sought asylum the United States of America after the abuse and persecution he suffered in Jamaica as a result of his sexual orientation. In a letter to President Obama, he wrote:

In 2010, the United States Government did the right thing. The visa of some of the main offenders producing the music hate, such as Sizzla, Malvado, Beenie Man, Bounty Killa, Busy Signal, Vybz Kartel, and Jah Cure, were denied. The incarceration of Reggae greats such as Ninja Man and Buju Banton has also been a blow to the hate industry cultivated in Jamaica and exported abroad. However there are concerts still being held in the US by Capleton, yet another artist who has called for discrimination and harm to the LGBTI community.

See Full Letter

Visa is a vehicle to travel the world. The Denial and revocation of visas to people who peddle hate, bigotry and violence (and death) towards people, does not deserve an entrance into the U.S., nor should any venue of record give them a place to perform should they be allowed to enter.

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds….” Bob Marley 

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