April 10, 2007

Beating Imus

On Wednesday of last week Don Imus made a comment calling the players of the Rutgers Women’s basketball team “some nappy headed hoes” and referring to the game between Tennessee and Rutgers as a Spike Lee thing. Imus and his sidekick referred to the game as the Jigaboos vs. Wannabees.

I thought these comments were hilarious since Imus looks like a corpse. I had heard the buzz over the weekend about these comments that Imus made but was not privy to actual quote until I read it on the net. This story has blown up since several prominent black activists have called for the termination of Don Imus.

First of all I thought the comments were totally racist even though many try to play it down by saying Don is not a racist. On his morning show yesterday Don apologized to the people offended by his comments stating he was “a good person that said a bad thing”.

Does Imus realize his comments were made about college students? They were not political; they were not making any social statement. The comments from Imus were extremely derogatory and came too easy for him to say out loud when he knew there were millions of people listening to him. I watched Imus’ apology on MSNBC and to hear Don talk about the context in which he made his comments because context was important. Well the context to me is; here is a white male who has the ear of millions of people engaging in the lowest form of racial insult. Imus comments that he was not some crazy guy on a stage ranting racial slurs referring to Michael Richards.

What Don doesn’t get is that what he did was worse. Michael Richards was in a confined space and did not know his comments were going to be heard outside of the room, Richards was responding in anger to a situation in the room, I am by no means minimizing what Richards did, but that was his context. In the Imus debacle there was no provocation. Imus just came out of nowhere and starting going off on these girls.

The audience that Imus commands is much larger than that of Richards. So there is another context. The comments that Imus made referred to specific physical things about the player, their so called nappy heads. This particular statement is a throw-back to the days when blacks were called nigger to their faces. When they could not sit in the front of the bus and the “hoe” references to slut and refers to earlier days when rumors were spread about black women being promiscuous and insatiable in bed. 

Don who is going to be 67 years old would have been a man during the sixties he knows the history in which those terms are rooted. He sounded so pathetic while he tried weasel his way out of his statements by saying that his show is a comedy hour that makes fun of people and sometimes the makes fun of him, Don Imus. The reality is that Imus In The Morning is a political show. Most of the guests are politicians and journalists. Oh and Don, if you want to make fun of yourself that is fine. You can make fun of yourself all you want; calling someone the names you used is not funny. It was degrading. Why did they deserve to be slandered?

To add to the insult during his morning show apology Don spent the entire time talking about all black children he helped at his 4,000 acre ranch which has 501(c) 3 status and his black friends. Some would say Imus uses the ranch solely to exploit the tax exemption and takes advantage of sickly children by using them as labor on his ranch. The Ranch schedule has children doing chores up to four times per day.

Isn’t this classic, though? The racist white guy pulling out his black friends and charity work to prove he is not a racist. Doesn’t that make him a Racist? So when Don says he is not a racist I question that because the evidence does not support the pledge because Don might be a racist in his heart and he can’t help it.

On top of that Imus went on the Al Sharpton talk show to make amends to the black community and erupts at a caller that tells him he was a used car sales man.

“I don’t have to take this from you, don’t come on here and insult me because I did not insult you, calling me a used car salesman” –Don Imus on Al Sharpton Talk show.

Is he for real? I thought he was sorry? Being called a used car salesman, that was something to go ballistic over. He cannot stand being called a used car salesman in the context that it occurred but we should understand the context in which he called young college girls “nappy headed hoes”. 

Instead of showing understanding and contriteness Imus erupts at the caller and even has exchanges with Sharpton during the commercial break stating “I don’t have to take this” to which Sharpton responds that’s “keeping it real” and Imus responded “so am I”.

Oh, yes he is really sorry. MSNBC and CBS radio have responded to the controversy slapping Imus with a mini vacation, a two week suspension and his word that he will work to change to climate of his show. Two weeks seem kind of flimsy as punishment go, maybe he should have gotten a month or two, but can Imus be more family friendly. Doubt it!! It will be interesting to see what the guy who called fellow MSNBC talk show host Tucker Carlson a bow tie wearing (part of a female body) has next in store. 

While many call for the complete removal of Don from radio and television. I disagree, plus what is the point? If he gets fired some other station is going to pick him up. Imus was already fired from WNBC in 1977 only to be rehired two years later. Besides, this is America, land of freedom of speech, even if we don’t agree with what is being said. Don's show is relevant to some extent. There is another way to deal with Imus and it has to do with listenership, and advertisement dollars, also his future comments will determine how much longer his show is on the air.

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