There was a happy ending to the campaign against the lyrics in the song ‘Jodeci Freestyle’. People in the Autistic community had felt very hurt by the lyrics. People with Autism can be stigmatised and this can have many consequences. People with Autism had felt that there was more stigma coming from people with a lot of influence when the song came out.
Anna Kennedy (OBE) together with the Anti-Bullying Alliance launched a campaign asking Hip Hop artists J.Cole and Drake to apologise to the autistic community and change the lyrics. J.Cole responded with an apology on his site and Drake also apologised and agreed to rewrite the lyrics.
On this issue Drake and J.Cole showed that they had the responsibility that is needed with influence. Their apologies were sincere and demonstrated character. In their apologies they drew attention to the difficulties that people with Autism experience and in so doing influenced other people to connect with these issues.
In turn Anna Kennedy also demonstrated tremendous strength of character with the support of the Anti Bullying Alliance and many other supporters in addressing this issue with two of the most influential people in Hip Hop.
A struggle has taken place which resulted in an apology and a change to the lyrics in a song. Each day there are many words spoken and many actions which contribute to stigma and which may pass without comment.
The events here show that the struggle can be worth it not just for those who are stigmatised but for those who stigmatise. Challenging stigma isn’t about competing narratives – it’s about dialogue.
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