Caraway used song in campaign to get kids to pull up their pants
Dooney Da’ Priest says he’s sorry, but is he really?
Da’ Priest, a 28-year-old rapper from Duncanville whose real name is Duwayne Brown, apologized this week for what some are calling homophobic lyrics in the song he wrote for Dallas Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway’s campaign to eradicate sagging pants and exposed underwear.
Meanwhile, a link to an audio file of the song that had been posted on Caraway’s city Web site was removed in response to controversy surrounding the lyrics. However, in an interview with Dallas Voice, Caraway refused to publicly condemn the song and suggested that the LGBT community should pocket the insult in exchange for the greater good of a sag-free society.
Da’ Priest, who refers to himself as a street preacher, claims that in jail and prison, sagging pants and exposed underwear indicate that someone is available for sex. Da’ Priest wrote the song, “Pull Your Pants Up,” after seeing Caraway at a press conference on TV promoting the anti-sagging campaign, which also includes billboards donated by Clear Channel.
“You walk the streets with your pants way down low/I don’t know/Looks to me like you’re on the down low,” Da’ Priest raps in the song. In the black community, “on the down low” refers to men who have sex with men but identify publicly as heterosexual.
“I think it’s gay but some of ya’ll think it’s cool/Walking around showing your behind to other dudes,” Da’ Priest continues.
Da’ Priest said he changed the word “gay” to “rude” in an edited version, but not before the song was distributed to hundreds of radio stations throughout the country.
After the homophobic lyrics were reported by media outlets including National Public Radio, Da’ Priest posted his apology on two MySpace pages. Dallas Voice had brought the issue to the attention of the national Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which subsequently contacted both Da’ Priest and Caraway.
“I have received numerous messages that I am promoting homophobia … ,” Da’ Priest wrote. “My lyrics were in no way intended to offend or slander anyone, only to make a point about what I see as a disrespectful clothing style. I never meant to imply that to be perceived as being gay is wrong.”
Despite Da’ Priest’s apology, as of Wednesday, Oct. 30 the unedited version of the song remained on the MySpace pages. It also appeared that Da’ Priest was trying to use media attention about the controversy to further promote the song. Reports on the lyrics were posted as blog entries on the MySpace pages.
“All I’m doing is just taking that information and putting it on my MySpace page,” Da’ Priest explained later. “You need to go target the people who are writing these stories and find out why they’re writing it that way.”
Da’ Priest said he’s a Christian who believes homosexuality is an abomination, but added that he’s not here to judge. He said he has three openly gay employees in his hair salon. Da’ Priest said the lyrics aren’t an attack against gays, but he wanted to educate people.
“That’s what it [sagging pants] actually means behind bars,” Da’ Priest said. “If they want to make themselves available to another man, I have no problem with that.”
Caraway said he was the one who suggested that Da’ Priest replace the word “gay” in the song.
“Unfortunately a copy of it got out,” Caraway said. “It’s certainly not something that I condone. That’s just the most that we can do under the unfortunate circumstances.”
In a statement e-mailed to Dallas Voice, GLAAD senior director of media programs Rashad Robinson said he “appreciated” the removal of the link to the song from Caraway’s Web site.
“However, the city of Dallas must be more responsible in future attempts at public education to ensure that they’re not promoting this kind of homophobic message,” Robinson said.
Caraway said there is no official connection between the song and the city, which did not pay Da’ Priest and has not spent taxpayer dollars on the anti-sagging campaign. Caraway has been unsuccessful in trying to get the council to adopt an ordinance banning sagging pants.
Asked whether he believes homosexuality is immoral, Caraway declined to give a yes or no answer. Caraway said he wasn’t in this year’s gay Pride parade because there was a Cowboys game on the same day.
Caraway declined to seek an endorsement from the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance during his 2007 election run.
Caraway, who is black, went on to say that the issue of sagging pants often leads to stereotypes about his race. And the song also contains the line: “The word saggin’ spelled backwards is the “‘N’ word.”
But Caraway said he’s willing to overlook that because he’s on “a greater mission to bring self-respect across the United States of America.”
“I’m overlooking it because I’m black,” Caraway said. “Everybody else has got to overlook it, too. All of our toes may get stepped on when we are at war. We are at war collectively against disrespect. So we must fight collectively together.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 2, 2007