Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Fashion Round Up - Imus vs Rutgers Edition

The latest is that Don Imus has been dropped from his MSNBC simulcast and is hemorrhaging high profile advertisers. This story petered for a few days and then exploded over the past few hours. Although I wasn't calling for his firing, I'm not going to lose any sleep tonight over it. Whether he was being shocking and/or funny, Imus is big boy enough to know you have to pay the consequences for such risky behavior.

Still, I wanted to use the powers of my tried and true fashion round up for good and briefly remind why Imus' statement was racist and wrong.

First, let's dispense with the obvious.

Imus was not talking about Ms. Zurich and Ms. Adams when he called the Rutgers basketball team "nappy headed hos".

No nappiness there.

On to the likely suspects.

Ok, freshly relaxed bob, freshly relaxed bob, fresh relaxer pulled back, neat cornrows, neat cornrows. Check, check, check, check and check. Nobody nappy headed there.

Here's team captain, Essence Carson.

Fresh relaxer in a neat bob w/ studious glasses as a bonus. Again, not a nappy headed ho.

Here's team center Matee Ajavon.

Again, not a hair out of place. She's not nappy headed either!

So, in fact, there is no one nappy headed on the Rutgers team. So what in the hell was Imus talking about? Imus said that the phrases he used “originated in the black community. ... I may be a white man, but I know that these young women and young black women all through that society are demeaned and degraded by their own black men and that they are called that name.” It could be useful for Imus to displace blame if he even knew what he was talking about. Too bad he doesn't.

The phrase "nappy headed" literally refers to coarse hair texture, but is never used in a positive connotation. It has been and is used in a variety of circumstances, but actually is not commonly used in the Black community anymore. Hair styles have changed. Mentalities have changed. As many Black Americans are mixed, we all flaunt different types of hair texture. Some have Dr. J Afros. Some have Mariah Carey waves. The differences has led to preference for Mariah Carey waves (or Candace Parker weave), for some. But, today, except for a few specific circumstances where the use would merely amount to being slightly dismissive, not offensive, using the term "nappy headed" would truly be diggin' in the crates.

But all Black people know what "nappy headed" really means. And, given that there is no factual support for any lady on the Rutgers team being nappy headed, Imus knows what it means too. Even if he doesn't understand the nuances. The core insult in the term, "nappy headed", is that you are not beautiful solely because you are not White or White-like. Whether that means your coarse hair texture or your dark skin color or your "tatted up" demeanor or just that you're not as cute as Candace, it's all the same. And "nappy headed" covers it all. It's an ugly word that. It's a fighting word.

Imus' statement was pure venom. He could have just called those girls "ugly" if that's how he felt. He could have even used the loaded term, "thug." But to take it to "nappy headed"... That was a low blow. And if he wants to just talk about appearances, he needs to get his terminology right. He's no fashionista.


The Rover said...

Nice breakdown.

Signal to Noise said...

I thought about that while I saw them on TV -- saw straight hair, rows, things like that, nothing I would have perceived as "nappy." Very well done, HCIC.

Kevin Huxford said...

You know...I find it funny that you're using pics of them attending a press conference about being called nappy-headed hoes to show their hair not being nappy at all. Mind you, it probably wasn't nappy during the game highlights Imus watched, either...but if someone called be a poorly dressed cracka, I'd probably show up to the press conference in a three piece suit. ;) The least you could do is use the proof that is likely out there that they weren't nappy-headed PRIOR to the comments, either. Using post-comment footage is disingenuous.

Gangsta D said...

I don't think the ladies got their hair straightened just for the press conference. I'm pretty sure if they had a perm two days ago, they had one two weeks ago.

DP said...

Im going to leave the comments section before I am reduced to commenting on a white man's knowledge of Permed hair.

This has gotten completely out of hand.

But since im here already, It should be pointed out that, the hair condition of the Tennessee players was pretty much identical to that of the Rutgers players, Including that of Ms. Parker who clearly sports the braid/weave hybrid which is popular for its low maintenance reputation.

Im still mad I did that.

Matthew said...

I should make a mention that has decided to attack the Rutgers team for being sore losers and for having such a busted leader as Essence.

susan said...

Has anyone noted yet that Mr. Imus is, in fact, the only nappy-headed one in the whole situation? Seriously folks, have you seen him?

Sooze said...

Someone should direct Imus to this blog for the definintion "nappy-headed"... like he didn't know. What a douche.

MCBias said...

Did anyone else get the feeling that Essence Carson usually does not wear glasses? Ahem. But there's a 6'5" reason for Rutgers showcasing the class of their players...anyone know what recruit I'm talking about?