Saturday, April 07, 2007

Cue Anger

Oh snap. I'm supposed to be upset about this. Syndicated radio host Don Imus made some, ummm, disparaging remarks about the Rutgers ladies basketball team. The exchange went like this:

"That's some rough girls from Rutgers," Imus said. "Man, they got tattoos ..."

"Some hardcore hos," said McGuirk. Imus responded: "That's some nappy headed hoes there, I'm going to tell you that."

McGuirk compared the team to the NBA's Toronto Raptors. A voice in the background added: “The [Memphis] Grizzlies would be more appropriate.”

“The girls from Tennessee, they all look cute,” said Imus. “Kinda like a Spike Lee thing – the jigaboos vs. the wannabes.” McGuirk then said erroneously, “From ‘Do The Right Thing.’”

Here's the video:

To be certain, Imus' statement was incredibly sexist and racist. "Nappy headed hos" is not a slip of the tongue. It was as if Imus couldn't wait to say it. It is beyond dismissive to refer to college students - Black, White or otherwise - as hos. And "nappy headed"? Black people barely use that one anymore. Imus goes on to show off his "knowledge" of Spike Lee films. His reference to wannabees and jigaboos was a sorry attempt to reference the Spike Lee film, "School Daze."

Spike Lee is not flattered.

"This is not the first time Imus has said stuff like this. Then to hide behind free speech, taking jigaboos and wannabes out of context, is ridiculous. The sad thing is, I bet a lot of their audience was laughing at it. I came up with jigaboos and wannabes . . . for something very specific about how African Americans view themselves based on hair color, complexion, etc. I was trying to show how crazy it was to do that, that black folks come in all different shapes, tones and sizes, etc., that one is not to be ridiculed over the other because we're all beautiful.

[Imus] don't know what I was talking about with School Daze, and it's evident with unfortunate comments like that. They'll probably have bigger ratings next week because of it, too."

Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said she was “deeply saddened and angered” by Imus’ comments about her team. "To serve as a joke of Mr. Imus in such an insensitive manner creates a wedge and makes light of these classy individuals, both as women and as women of color," she said.

But it's not like, prior to Imus' comments, I felt valued in America. I can't even get R. Kelly banned from my radio station, lol. I am admittedly numb to this sort of treatment.

And, yes, it was a racist, sexist statement. But worse, it was mean without purpose, not even humor. The young ladies from Rutgers didn't deserve to hear that after they valiantly competed in the NCAA tourney. Women, in general, didn't deserve to hear that. Black people, in general, didn't deserve to hear that.

Many are calling for Imus' firing. So called representatives of Black people are demanding that he perform some sort of outreach to back up his apology. I guess it became fashionable in 2006, but that has to be the most ludicrous solution for racism and/or sexism and/or anti-semtism and/or homophobia that I have ever heard. Outreach? It is what it is. Imus is an old guy. Maybe a racist. Maybe a sexist. Definitely ignorant and thoughtless. Counseling is not going to change him. Let him be.

I can not join the PC police in calling for his firing because Imus made those comments. What would that accomplish? Will Imus have sudden deep felt respect for women? For Black people? Doubtful. Fired or not, he'll still be an asshole. If Imus is fired, will the airwaves be free of hateful people? No. Society will not turn on whether Imus keeps his job.

I suspect Imus might even be sincerely contrite in his apologies. Last week, Imus said:

"I want to take a moment to apologize for an insensitive and ill-conceived remark we made the other morning regarding the Rutgers women's basketball team. It was completely inappropriate, and we can understand why people were offended. Our characterization was thoughtless and stupid, and we are sorry."

And on Monday, Imus continued to apologize, calling himself "a good person" who made a bad mistake.

"Here's what I've learned: that you can't make fun of everybody, because some people don't deserve it. And because the climate on this program has been what it's been for 30 years doesn't mean that it has to be that way for the next five years or whatever because that has to change, and I understand that."

I don't know if this would be a case where the punishment exceeds the crime, but Imus spent two hours on the Al Sharpton radio show. Al berated him (deservedly) and Imus took calls. It was probably good for him. Call it a hunch, but I suspect Don doesn't have many Black friends. Thus, it was probably valuable for him to hear from some regular Black folk with no agenda. The discourse was perfectly civilized. Some even supported Imus' right to say what he did. Imus promised to personally apologize to the Rutgers basketball team. I suppose that's pretty much all you can do.

I appreciate Reverend Al, Reverend Jesse and the like standing up for ladies like me. Even though they have their own agenda, that is. I am more than disturbed that defending against racism has become a commercial enterprise in and of itself. But Al needs ratings. Jesse needs contributions to his foundation. There's never been much love for hos in this country, but I guess this little sliver of support is better than nothing. And nothing is pretty much what I'm used to.


Blue Viking Devil said...

The quote from Imus "Here's what I've learned: that you can't make fun of everybody, because some people don't deserve it...." somewhat bothers me. I don't think the issue is deserving of being made fun of or the likes, but rather that the way Imus' made fun of them had no warrant. I have discussed this before on another blog, but humor seems to lose some of its punch when their isn't a reality string upon which it is making its joke. So the label of "hos" comes from where?

I for one was more disgusted by the misogynist tint of comment than the "nappy headed" maybe because of the lost affect of the label "nappy headed". A sad event that portrays the continued division and power relationship in the world.

Signal to Noise said...

I've just become accustomed to folks like Imus. I think he should be fired, but it's not like it would actually fix him personally or any other shock jock, and to some extent, we don't really want that.

It's pretty much better if he keeps his show, yet everyone's reminded of his idiocy by the fact that he's still on the air.

I still doubt the sincerity of his apology, but calling for outreach is stupid. The bigger problems are the misogyny and that he is, sad to say, an influential person in media -- he has big-time politicians on his show all the time. If this sucks out some of his influence and respect as some sort of political commentator rather than the shock jock he is, that's fine with me.

YL Adam said...

Excellent post. I don't buy Imus's apology because he didn't really apologize for the right thing. He apologizes for the "characterization" of the team. The characterization is the beginning part where he's saying they're rough girls with tattoos. That's the characterization. Haha, tough people have tattoos. That's funny. No wonder Imus has been on the radio so long.

That's also not the part people are mad about. People are mad about the non sequitor mysoginist/racist remark he added at the end. Being a nappy headed ho has nothing to do with being a rough girl. It has a lot to do with being the target of an old man's weird prejudice. It was definitley not part of the characterization. Imus has no idea what he's apologizing for, or he does and he's trying to make it sound less important than it is. Either way I'm unimpressed.

DP said...


Is this over yet?

I think weve all gotten our pound of flesh from Don Imus.

At this point it wont matter if he gets fired or not.

3 weeks from now, Im POSITIVE someone will have said something and all this will be gone.

Michael Richards, anyone?

Mini Me said...

Did anybody else notice the awkward silence after he first used the derogatory words? Wow that was awkward.

MCBias said...

"There's never been much love for hos in this country, but I guess this little sliver of support is better than nothing. And nothing is pretty much what I'm used to."

I'll make sure to use this quote extensively in my upcoming "hugs for bloggers" campaign. :-)

But yes, good points here. I dislike how reporters are jumping on this situation to show everyone how "enlightened" they are that comments like this are wrong. No kidding, Sherlock.