Global Directories Limited in Jamaica gave into pressure and produced an alternative cover to its 2017 telephone directory on the heels of a stern rebuke from a local lobby group about an “offensive” dancehall picture.
At issue was a reggae scene showing scantily clad women dancing with men at what appears to be a typical street session in Jamaica.
The Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society condemned the image, charging that it was encouraging “behaviour that was not necessarily ideal.”
Chairman of the coalition, clergyman Dr Wayne West told the Jamaica Gleaner the cover was out of place given the challenges facing young people in terms of values.
“We thought that what was displayed there wasn’t something that was beneficial,” he said.
“We didn’t think that scene, which was sort of a dancehall scene, was ideal. It wasn’t the best thing that could have been done for the Yellow Pages – something which is so widely distributed and which is supposed to be the product of a company that should be seeking to elevate rather than to encourage behaviour that is not necessarily ideal.”
Chief Executive Officer of Global Directories Ian Neita however rejected suggestions that the picture was “offensive”, saying it was merely depicting culture and was not meant to insult any group.
He said the cover, which is displayed on the directory for Kingston and St Andrew, would remain, but the company had taken a “commercial and principled” decision to print an alternative cover for institutions such as churches and schools or any others who would be offended by the image.
“A church may be listed in the book [and] once they advertise in the book. In a kind of way, they become a co-sponsor. If it were a private magazine that we were putting forward in the public space, I think it would be a little bit different. I don’t think we’re resiling from a principled position by saying, ‘Hey, I’ll give you an alternative’.”
“I’d like to think we kind of took the high road,” Neita added.
However, a University of the West Indies dancehall expert Dr Donna Hope challenged the position taken by the lobby group.
Hope argued that the dancehall culture was a very important part of Jamaica youth culture and “it was an appropriate kind of image in a country where dancehall continues to provide…information about who we are as a people.”