New Prince Video Ignites Racism Debate

10/15/2004 at 11:00 AM EDT

New Prince Video Ignites Racism Debate
Prince
Kevin Kane/WireImage
Prince is again sparking controversy, this time over his new "Cinnamon Girl" video, which the musician released to the nation's cable music networks this week.

In it, an Arab-American teenage girl – played by Keisha Castle-Hughes, 14, the Oscar-nominated actress from Whale Rider – witnesses a terrorist attack and then experiences racism from classmates and others. The racism pushes her to fantasize about carrying a bomb into an airport.

"Cinnamon Girl of mixed heritage, never knew the meaning of color lines," Prince sings. "9/11 turned that all around, when she got accused of this crime."

"Prince intended for it to spark some dialogue," the video's director, Phil Harder, tells the Associated Press. The musician himself is declining comment on the video, preferring that the public makes up its own mind about it, his publicist says.

Representatives for MTV, VH1 and BET acknowledge the potentially contentious content of the video. Nevertheless, to gauge reaction, MTV plans to begin airing it next week on MTVU. VH1 and BET remain on the fence about showing the video.

Rana Abbas, deputy director of the Midwest chapter of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Dearborn, Mich., supports the video, which she has seen.

"It was shocking, but in a good way," Abbas said. "Prince is the first major recording artist to address the prejudice and issues that (Arab-Americans) are facing after 9/11, and I think he has done it in a very powerful way."

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