Facing opposition from black church and community leaders, the Yerwood Center yesterday canceled their celebrity basketball fund raiser featuring Jadakiss and his D-Block label-mates.
Jere Eaton, former Yerwood Center board member who is also running for the presidential position for the Stamford NAACP branch, e-mailed community leaders and the media articles and lyrics about the rappers because, as Eaton said, she feared violence would erupt at the event.
Deborah Sewell, the President and CEO of the Yerwood Center, cancelled the fundraiser after receiving more than 60 phone calls, no replacement fundraiser has been planned.
“I’m disappointed, because I really felt this would have been a great opportunity for the community to band together and show up in force,” she said.
In the e-mail, Eaton wrote, “Under the leadership of Dr. Robert Perry (pastor of Union Baptist Church) and other clergy in Stamford, we are demanding that the Celebrity Basketball Fundraiser is canceled or ‘CLEAN’ entertainment is provided by artists with ‘CLEAN’ reputations.”
Sewell said it was too late and pointless to bring in other celebrities. “It doesn’t matter who you bring in,” she said. “There’s a potential for an issue of violence.”
Sewell, who said she has had a working relationship with the group D-Block for years, noted that the rappers were coming to play basketball, not perform. She defended Jadakiss and his group, pointing out community events they have attended, including a Stamford rally that resulted in a gang truce.
“They’ve always been supportive of the community and they love to play basketball,” she said.
In an interview, Eaton said, “All of these artists are the worst of the worst. They’re criminals, their favorite word is the N-word, and they demean women by calling them bitches and hos.“
The Rev. Tommie Jackson, pastor of Faith Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, was one leader opposing the May 19 event.
“You can’t have double standards for lyrics that impact your community negatively,” he said, citing the Don Imus incident last month in which the radio host called the Rutgers University women’s basketball team “a bunch of nappy-headed hos.” “It doesn’t make it right if it’s said by Don Imus or black rap artists,” Jackson said. “It is antithetical to the morals and values that we’re trying to teach and impart to the sons and daughters of the community.“
“The bottom line is we believe that the Yerwood Center needs to raise money,” he added, “but there are better ways of doing it than bringing in Jadakiss.”
Now the kids get no game. Who really wins here?