Before Wednesday, I really never paid attention to who Don Imus was. I’d seen him a few times on MSNBC, while channel surfing, but that’s about it.
Heck, I didn’t even realize that was his name until last week.
But, just like many folks, I was outraged to hear his remarks concerning the Rutgers women’s basketball team.
Let me make this clear: I was outraged, not surprised.
I mean, come on, I’m not foolish enough to believe that the strides and accomplishments of the Civil Rights movement wiped away prejudice and racism like a magic wand.
And I’m certainly not naïve enough to believe that America is just one big happy family.
I also understand everyone has a right to their opinion, and even their own brand of humor.
Whatever goes on behind closed doors - whether I agree with it or not - as long as it’s legal it’s not really my business.
BUT, when you’re so callous, so brazen, so bold to utter ignorant comments like Imus did in a public setting, when you choose to put your ignorance on display for the world to see, THAT’S when I have a problem. That’s when I get concerned.
Nappy-headed hos? Really?
I’m not sure which words enrage me the most – the nappy-headed part or the hos part. Both words have long carried such negative connotations.
And used together they denigrated an already-downtrodden group. No, I'm not referring to simply the Rutgers women's basketball team, but black women as a whole.
Hearing him say those words made my skin flush with anger as if he were talking about my momma … my sister … me.
And when did these words become acceptable language for public fodder or consumption?
The sad truth is that maybe they always were, and Imus, just like Michael Richards, just happen to let it slip out.
I just heard snippets from Imus' interview yesterday with Al Sharpton and of course, Imus played that role of the innocent-yet-defensive-one, claiming he doesn’t believe what he said made him a racist.
He wasn’t intending to be racist, he said. He was just telling a joke that went wrong. Blah, blah, blah…
I’m so sick of folks hiding behind everything but the truth. You can’t ever make me believe that Imus, a man who's old enough to have lived through segregation, the civil rights movement, the second wave women's liberation movement and a host of other milestones in human history, wasn’t fully aware of what he said or the ramifications of what he said when he said it.
Words rarely roll of the tongue without some thought behind them. Whether intentional or not, words reflect conscious thoughts held in your mind based on your own belief system and perception. They're ingrained somewhere in your psyche, waiting to be used.
And Imus' words were racist, pure and simple.
I believe it is the responsibility of MSNBC, as a nationally broadcast media company, to make a bold statement against this kind of attitude and behavior. Lines have to be drawn somewhere to say that this kind careless language is unacceptable in mainstream media, period. A mere suspension is nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
If you’re still not convinced, let’s play dumb for a minute and ask this question: Would Imus have ever referred to a basketball team full of mostly white females as nappy-headed hos?
I doubt it, but I’ll let you be the judge.