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The Imus Show already had a disgraceful history of demonstrating insensitivity specifically

towards black women prior to this incident, such as the occasion on which

the host referred to PBS-TV nightly news anchor Gwen Ifill as a “cleaning lady.”



There Must Still Be Something Out of Kilter

By Kam Williams 


“That's some nappy-headed hos there, I'm going to tell you that now, man [laughing], that's some... woo!”—Don Imus on Rutgers Women’s Basketball Team, 2007


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That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman?

Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the Negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon.—Sojourner Truth at a Women's Rights Convention, 1851

Make no mistake, Don Imus knew exactly what he was doing and to whom when he and his creepy cohorts chose to belittle the achievements, to question the femininity, and to smear the reputations of the members of Rutgers Women’s Basketball Team. He picked on them because he figured he could get away with it, as usual, because they were black, because they were female, because they were powerless, and because they were defenseless and ostensibly without the political clout to hold him accountable for the venomous, vituperative attack, no matter how baseless or profane.      

Had Imus disparaged females from, say, a predominantly Jewish basketball team as “hooked-nosed Hebe hos” before going on and on about how masculine and unattractive they were and comparing them to dinosaurs and grizzly bears, there would be no need for me to write this article, and no ongoing debate about whether or not he should be fired, because network execs would have yanked him out of the studio and handed him his walking papers on the spot. Despite Imus’ claim that he’s an “equal opportunity offender,” both he and his on-air sidekicks are well aware of the unwritten rules as to which gender and ethnic groups it’s acceptable for them to ridicule.

The Imus Show already had a disgraceful history of demonstrating insensitivity specifically towards black women prior to this incident, such as the occasion on which the host referred to PBS-TV nightly news anchor Gwen Ifill as a “cleaning lady.” Then there was the time that his sports reporter, Sid Rosenberg, suggested that tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams were better suited to appear on the cover of National Geographic than Playboy.

So, it’s no surprise that Rosenberg, an admitted crackhead, was again one of the willing participants in Imus’ latest lame, white male-bonding opportunity at the expense of the dignity of these innocent, highly-accomplished African-American females. Also chiming in with approval was executive producer James McGuirk who called them “jigaboos.” The only more insulting slur I can think of is the N-word. The message this inveterate racist Imus is so fond of delivering is that no matter what odds black women manage to overcome in a society which undervalues them by design, he is always ready to remind them of this country’s color-coded caste system by resorting to inflammatory, offensive stereotypes.

Curiously, he showed surprisingly-little remorse while defending himself in a transparently-phony non-apology during which he instead went on the offensive. "I may be a white man, but I know that . . . young black women all through that society are demeaned and disparaged and disrespected . . .  by their own black men and that they are called that name," he arrogantly asserted.

I don’t know what bizarro world Imus is talking about, because I have never referred to any black woman as a “ho,” and I have never witnessed any other black man doing so, except in movies and music videos. Thus, it is very telling that Imus is apparently citing as the source of the inspiration for his callous remarks gangsta rap and blaxpoitation flicks which most African-American males routinely complain about but have no control over their mass marketing.

By contrast, consider the fact that Michael Jackson was successfully pressured to recall a CD containing the anti-Semitic invectives “Jew me, sue me” and “Kick me, kike me,” and to re-shoot its video and to re-release the song with different lyrics. Just because blacks do not enjoy the same sort of leverage as entertainment executives, does not mean that African-Americans endorse the misogyny running rampant in rap and the rest of the entertainment media.

Rather, the mercenary aspect of crapitalism is at fault, as it allows the almighty dollar to set the programming agenda. Never forget, this is a culture which exploits the human condition for profit.

The Rutgers women shouldn’t expect much to come from their meeting with Imus, except for maybe more salt in their fresh wounds. Unfortunately, productive communication can’t occur until both parties to the conversation respect and understand each other. Impatient to get his job back, Imus is likely to approach them in a results-oriented fashion. They, on the other hand, as soulful spiritual folk, will undoubtedly be process-oriented and content only if they can somehow connect heart-to-heart.

Despite his millions of listeners, Imus has already proven himself to be woefully out of touch with the pulse of the country, isolated and hopelessly adrift on an anti-intellectual ice floe without a moral compass. Isn’t it obvious that at the dawn of a historic era when the nation sits poised perhaps to elect either its first black or first woman president, there is absolutely no reason why this bigoted, over-opinionated Neanderthal should ever be behind a coast-to-coast microphone again, let alone consulted to participate in the discussion of the indefensible words which ought to bring down the curtain on his career?

Either it’s ovah for Imus, or, as sister Sojourner Truth said so many years ago, there must still be something out of kilter.

Lloyd Kam Williams is an attorney and a member of the bar in NJ, NY, CT, PA, MA & US Supreme Court bars.

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Other Responses

Gwen Ifill | Trash Talk RadioGwen Ifill writes: "The Scarlet Knights of Rutgers University had an improbable season, dropping four of their first seven games, yet ending up in the NCAA women's basketball championship game. None of them were seniors. Five were freshmen. For all their grit, hard work and courage, the Rutgers girls got branded 'nappy-headed ho's' - a shockingly concise sexual and racial insult, tossed out in a volley of male camaraderie by a group of amused, middle-aged white men. The 'joke' - as delivered and later recanted - by the radio and television personality Don Imus failed one big test: it was not funny."Truthout

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MSNBC Drops Imus Simulcast Amid FurorBy David Crary, AP National WriterMSNBC said Wednesday it will drop its simulcast of the "Imus in the Morning" radio program, responding to growing outrage about the radio host's racial slur against the Rutgers women's basketball team."This decision comes as a result of an ongoing review process, which initially included the announcement of a suspension. It also takes into account many conversations with our own employees," NBC news said in a statement.Comcast

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The problem with Imus is not the profanity, but the fact that he attacked a group of decent young people.   If he had spoken of the young men of three races in my classroom as "nappy-headed pimps," I would be seething with rage.Wilson

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Yes, he exposed the illusion. Those in the know want a buffer group of "decent young people." Those in the know who are more cosmopolitan do not want to lump "all blacks" together. That would suggest an impossibility that any colored could share the dream. That would be too much of a concession to "white skin privilege." It was the same with the 7-year-old Negro child. NBC has cut Imus loose. Let's see what CBS will do. . . . The problem is that we usually go back to sleep when we discover the reality of our lives. It is just too much for us to remain vigilant and change our way. We will again deny ourselves before the cock crows—Rudy

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Rutgers coach has history of standing firmBy Kelly Whiteside,PISCATAWAY, N.J. — It was the first story that rushed to mind when she heard the hurtful words. In an instant, she was 16 all over again. When Rutgers women's basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer was told radio host Don Imus called her team "nappy-headed hos" after its national title game with Tennessee, her thoughts rushed back to high school when she was cut from the cheerleading squad because of her race. In the mid-1960s, there were no girls sports teams at German Township (Pa.) High, so Stringer tried out for the cheerleading squad. She was the best at back flips and roundabouts, but that wasn't good enough. That night, a local NAACP leader stopped by her house in Edenborn, Pa., and persuaded her parents to let their daughter go before the school board. She was embarrassed and scared. Then her father, Buddy Stoner, a coal miner, told her something that is just as powerful today.USAToday


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Imus Is Snoop's Frankenstein Monster

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson, New America Media
Posted on April 13, 2007, Printed on April 17, 2007

Imus Got His Trash Talk Pass Yanked, Now Yank it for Blacks Who Talk The Same By Earl Ofari Hutchinson, New America Media Posted on April 10, 2007,

Printed on April 17, 2007

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Outrageous Words, Outrageous Deedsby Ralph Nader Words inflaming more than deeds is also too often the case when racial epithets are uttered by public figures. All those groups and civil rights leaders who conquered and ended the Don Imus media empire should ask themselves what have they done in any sustained manner, given their power and media access, about the brutality of racism by commercial interests in the urban ghettos. Deaths, injuries, disease and loss of livelihood are a daily occurrence, apart from raw street crime and drugs. Little children seriously poisoned by lead, asbestos and other toxics. Whole neighborhoods redlined without adequate corporate police protection. Predatory lending, predatory interest rates, marketing shoddy products and contaminated food proliferate. Where have been the cries of outrage, the demands for removal of these conditions and prosecution of these crooks and defrauders? The abysmal conditions are daily, weekly, monthly. They have been occasionally reported in gripping human interest terms and statistics and maps.CommonDreams


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Shock Jocks Wield Dangerous 'Stereotype Threat'By Caryl RiversOnce, after reading the paper of a black male student whose writing ability wasn't known to me, my first reaction was that I was surprised that it was so good. My second reaction was, "Where the hell did that come from? How on earth had I internalized a lower expectation for a black male?"  I have been a firm support of civil rights all my life. I've written that the notion of racial differences in intelligence (an idea expressed in "The Bell Curve") is absolute nonsense. I've read many wonderful black male writers. And yet, the stereotype had slipped in under my radar, unwanted but present. I wonder, in the future, if an employer may be deciding between two female job applicants—one black and one white—won't even know what's in the back of her or his his mind. Maybe images of nappy-headed hos and cleaning ladies (what Imus called broadcast journalist Gwen Ifill in 1993) will be lurking, unbidden. Maybe he (or even she) won't ever know why the white candidate got the nod.And that is why Imus matters. George Orwell said that language is politics.Maybe it is the most potent sort of politics there is.


Boston University Professor Caryl Rivers is the author of "Selling Anxiety: How the News Media Scares Women," to be published this month by University Press of New England. Women's eNews welcomes your comments.—Womensenews

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Will Imus' downfall uplift rap?Probably not. But maybe it'll force us to stop buying into misogynyMalcolm X AbramBeacon Journal Thu, Apr. 19, 2007Role models fade awayAs for hip-hop's Golden Era (roughly, 1986 to 1995), often lionized by many of us older hip-hop fans, there was still misogyny and violence to be found in the music, but there was also Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions, commanding you to be proud of your blackness and your nappy hair, and to look beyond the block to question authority. There was De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest and Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth, enjoying the art of rhyming and crate-digging for beats, and there was Queen Latifah being strong and encouraging young women to ask ``who you callin' a b----!?''

Many of rap's young fans are raised in similar conditions to their heroes, and often have little parental or other tangible guidance to help them separate their favorite rapper's tough guy cliches from how grown men and women should actually conduct themselves and treat one another, in a society that's not interested in their survival.

As for the suburban kids who are still getting their vicarious thrills from the music, they don't care if the 'hood they're so fascinated with burns down tomorrow, because the whole culture is just a cool, aural blaxploitation flick to them. And once they get bored, with one quick trip to Hot Topic they can put on tight pants, stare at their navels and become emo kids, punks, goths or whatever the cool kids at school are doing. Ohio

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Dont blame Hip Hop for Imus's racismBy Larry HalesApr 19, 2007It would seem, from the articles now circling in major newspapers and news outlets nationwide, that Imus and the like are victims of Hip Hop music. That all this country's ills are to be blamed on a culture that grew from conditions imposed on oppressed nationalities, specifically Blacks and Puerto Ricans. These conditions, which arose from a system that uses racism like a carpenter uses a hammer, are nothing more than an illustration of the racism endemic to capitalist society.

The opaqueness of the "blame Hip Hop" argument should be obvious; however, the ruling class in this country, for whom Don Imus is a mouthpiece, is extremely effective. Surely, this incident was not an isolated incident, but more of the same from a man who built his radio career espousing racist, anti-women and homophobic sentiments.
While it is a victory that MSNBC and CBS had to bow to the will of the people and fire Imus, he is only one of many and his firing came after he had spewed his rancid speak for 15 years on radio. Many in the Black community and other oppressed communities stood up to call for Imus's firing and so did certain ranks within the media, especially Black women. Imus's sidekick, Sid Rosenberg and producer Bernard McGuirk, who was hired by Imus to do "N-word jokes," have gotten away with catering to one of the founding doctrines of U.S. society—white supremacy.

Racism is a tool of the bosses used to create a privileged layer in society, to obfuscate and pit workers against other workers instead of fighting together against the owners and protectors of the capitalist mode of production. For example, Lou Dobbs continues his racist, fascistic-like assault on immigrant workers in order to whip up the white middle-class and white workers into a frenzy against people of color. This is nothing more than dangerous demagogy that must be challenged.

Bill O'Reilly still figures prominently on right-wing Fox News, a channel that proudly trumpets its right-wing bent. Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are only a few more of the far-right pundits. A campaign should be waged to remove them all from the public eye. When the ruling class uses the First Amendment, it is wielded as a weapon. It is the workers that pay for their vile speech.Workers

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Farrakhan challenges the hip hop community—Accept the responsibility of leadership—By the Honorable Minister Louis FarrakhanNov 6, 2003I do not think it is an accident that music and culture have moved to this time and that the spoken word has become that which is affecting youth throughout the entire planet. In countries where governments do not like western music or western civilization, people are sneaking around listening to the word and moving to the beat of the hip hop generation. If in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God, then God here means Force and Power. The Word has Force. The Word has Power; Force and Power to move men to think new thoughts and to do new things.

There are a lot of people my age that talk about the lyrics of rap artists. They are upset that the rap artists speak of killing, using drugs, the misuse of our women, ripping off people and killing police, but these lyrics do not come from apples that have fallen from some other tree. The society says it wants the rappers to clean up their lyrics, but the society does not want to clean itself up.

So, what have you done, young people? You have brought out of the closet people's realities. The youth have manifested the wickedness of their parents, their teachers, the judges, the politicians and the rulers. When you talk about gangster lyrics, you are literally showing aspects of a government that tells you that you should kill a leader that they disagree with—assassinate him, destabilize his government, cause hundreds of thousands, even millions of people to die, because you do not like their form of government. What is that but gangsterism in the name of government? [Editor's note: The above text is excerpted from a lecture delivered by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan to a gathering of leaders of the hip hop community on June 13, 2001 in New York City. It was originally printed in Volume 20, Number 37 of The Final Call.]—FinalCall


posted 10 April 2007

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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