Local artist Mo Sabri has a new song called “Johnson City, Tennessee.” The song video is generally upbeat and features well known community leaders like Congressman Phil Roe and other notable people from the area. However, the song takes a disturbing turn at the 2:40 mark when Mo Sabri makes a derogatory comment about people who don’t appreciate his music, saying “…if you do not like my music then you belong at New Beginnings” (2:40). This is a clear reference to a local establishment in Johnson City that serves the gay community.
This is unacceptable slur directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Mr. Sabri's community. By allowing themselves to be featured in this video, local community, school and business leaders are passively agreeing with Mr. Sabri’s remarks which only serve to marginalize LGBT people.
Mo Sabri is quickly becoming a spokesman for his community. We’re seeking an apology for the potential harm he has caused. We would hate to see Electric 94.9, Campbell Morrell Music, State Farm Insurance Company, the Carmike Cinema, Dr. Enuf, and any artists associated with Mr. Sabri lose customers and support through their association with homophobia.
Tell leaders in Johnson City that sanctioning homophobia is bad for our community and bad for business. Ask them to demand that Mo Sabri change his defamatory lyrics and apologize to the public.
At the 2:40 mark in his song, Mr. Sabri raps “…if you do not like my music then you belong at New Beginnings” - a clear reference to a local establishment in Johnson City that serves the gay community. In essence, Mr. Sabri is saying that if someone disagrees with him they’re gay and gay people are cast-offs who don’t matter. I strongly disagree with that sentiment. Gay and lesbian people live, work, raise families and contribute to your community. Allowing someone who is quickly becoming a representative of Northeast Tennessee to speak like this without opposition is alarming and shouldn’t be tolerated.
Mr. Sabri's speech is protected by the First Amendment, but speech that dehumanizes fellow human beings does not represent Johnson City, its people, or its businesses in a positive light. Since you are prominently featured in this video, you are now associated with language that only serves to marginalize and dehumanize people.
Young people who listen to Mr. Sarbi's music are at risk internalizing this kind of hate speech. Considering the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth lost to suicide in our recent history, this is incredibly troubling for the community. Those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender have the same worth as other people and deserve to be treated with the same level of respect.
Please don’t allow yourself to be aligned with this kind of defamation. With all that’s going on in our schools, our country, and the world, inclusiveness remains something we should be striving for. Please take a stand against this bad behavior. Ask Mo Sabri to remove this slur from his song and make a public apology. To do anything less would reflect poorly on you and your community.