A group of church officials is calling out Carnival Cruise Line for their behavior after a disagreement over an onboard DJ’s refusal to stop playing R. Kelly songs.
Rev. Teri Peterson, a minister at St. John ’s Church in Gourock, Scotland, was on an eight-day Carnival Magic cruise with a group of clergywomen and other women in ministry when the incident occurred.
Peterson said in a statement obtained by Fox News that a few of the women of color in their group were in the ship’s nightclub dancing when the DJ began to play an R. Kelly song. But when the women, along with others in the club, asked him to stop, he allegedly ignored their request.
"His response was to sing and dance along and mock them,” Peterson said, adding that they decided to leave the club that night.
Later they ran into the same DJ and he reportedly began to sing the song and continue to make fun of them.
After a third uncomfortable encounter with the DJ, the women complained to cruise employees but were dissatisfied with the response.
"The response of the management on the ship was lackluster until the white women in our group also got involved, at which point they began to appear to take the complaint more seriously, and had meetings with various people including the Guest Services Director, Entertainment Director, and Cruise Director,” Peterson said.
"These meetings were not offered to the women of color who initially complained about their treatment by the DJ, and the full complement of management staff was not involved until the third incident of harassment had taken place,” she added.
Peterson and her group have sailed on eight different Carnival cruises but say they won’t be doing so again.
They hope by bringing the issue to light, Carnival will implement changes to prevent a situation like this from happening in the future, including: “Updated training protocols including anti-racist training for all crew members and staff,” improved response time to guests complaints and better screening of music being played, not just by excluding profanity but also “being aware of current events realities such as those surrounding R Kelly, and thus the removal of his music from the playlist.”
"I don’t want anyone to have the experience our group members had, of being harassed by staff and dismissed by those meant to help,” Peterson said.
A spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Lines released the following statement to Fox News on the matter: “We had a small group of guests who took issue with two songs that our DJ was playing in a nightclub well after midnight. While we only play radio versions of popular music that have been sanitized so that offensive language has been removed, we do not make a habit of banning music as we have a broad cross-section of guests.”
“Our shipboard team listened to the concerns of these guests and provided a goodwill gesture. We are proud of the many ways we’ve been recognized for our commitment to diversity and inclusion and every day we work to make sure our guests and crew feel welcome and part of the Carnival family. We’re sorry this group feels otherwise,” the spokesperson said.