By now, you've heard over and over about (irrelevant) radio shock jock Don Imus calling the Rutgers' women's team "nappy-headed hos" and others on his show referring to the team as "rough hos" and "hardcore hos," even going so far as to compare the team to the Tennessee women's team calling it the jigaboos vs. the wannabees. Spike Lee doesn't like being dragged into it, but calls for an immediate boycott of all advertisers. Rutgers is not happy. The coach is not happy. Tennessee's Women's Coach is not happy. (Please don't make Pat mad. She really looks like she could harm you.) The NCAA is not happy. The Washington Post had a very interesting live online chat.
As with anything, I get a little less pissed, but a little more contemplative with each passing day. I'm absorbing a lot of information and the changes keep coming. It started with the boycotts and protests, then CBS and MSNBC suspend him for 2 weeks. Then advertisers, including Staples, Bigelow Tea and Proctor and Gamble pulled their support. Now MSNBC has pulled its simulcast after taking "into account many conversations with our own employees. What matters to us most is that the men and women of NBC Universal have confidence in the values we have set for this company."
And yet the questions continue. Is Imus so relevant that it hurts for him to call any educated Black woman a nappy-headed ho? No, he's not that relevant, or even relevant at all to me. I only knew who he was prior to the incident because there is a giant bank of televisions covering every news station at work. Every morning I look up and he's on. Yes, he's a shock jock. But at what point do we say enough is enough? Where do we draw the line? Not knowing the sexual proclivities of the women in question, can you really call them hos? Or does that border on slander? Nappy-headed is also in question considering 2 of the people on the team are white. At the very least, he's inaccurate and NOT FUNNY.
I was amazed when I first heard it, then shocked, then really, really pissed off. I have, and love my, natural hair, and I don't like when my own father calls me nappy-headed. It just doesn't sit right with me. It's the implication. Nappy as in unclean or undesirable. Some would disagree. But that's what you meant right? Or what did you mean? Let us know. Then the "they say it so I can" argument is foolish. It's okay to just go along with everything everyone says? Come on. There has to be something that is not okay to you. What is it? Where is the line?
This is not the first time he's made questionable comments. According to wikipedia, Imus may be familiar with the word nigger. He previously pledged not to engage in further racist talk. He has repeatedly apologized, but is it enough? Now the shock jock is upset that the most recent incident is clouding his record of community service. This is true. In many articles, if mentioned at all, his service record is relegated to the final paragraph, which in media terms means first to be cut if there is a space or time issue. Here's a tip. When you make incendiary comments, that is precisely what happens. Any positive impact you have becomes clouded by controversy.
The context also matters. When Imus, a 66-year-old white male, used the airwaves, television and radio, national television, a nationally syndicated radio program to denigrate a group of black women and say they looked like men (didn't hear that part? He and members of his radio program said the women looked like the Toronto Raptors. One took it further and said the Memphis Grizzlies), there is a problem. Take heed. I wouldn't like it if some black people said it either, since so many have chosen to bring rappers into the mix. I'll get to that in a minute.
I'm not clear, however, on how Al Sharpton can say, I will complain to the FCC. On what grounds? FCC indecency standards are somewhat convoluted. I think the better complaint would go to the stations themselves and the advertisers. Imus makes a lot of money for these stations. Do I think he should be fired? I don't know. What does Imus think should happen?
If you've been watching any of the coverage of this issue, I'm sure more than once you've heard the question, but what about the rappers? Black people have got to stop saying it themselves. We're back to this again? Like with nigg(a)(er), right? Trust and believe, there are many black and white people calling rappers to the table on a regular basis for their community-destroying lyrics. Search music on many of my regular bloggers' pages and you'll find great disdain not only for the music and their "artists," but also the media outlets that play them. At some point, you get tired of being nigga-ed, bitched and hoed, not to mention encouraged to sell drugs and smack asses. We've covered that. But since you want to ask, let's go to the source.
On Hollywood.com, Rapper Snoop Dogg refused any comparison to Imus. Snoop went so far as to say "(Rappers) are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports. We're talking about hos that's in the 'hood that ain't doing s**t, that's trying to get a n**ga for his money. These are two separate things."
It's a bit clearer now, but do go on. "We are rappers that have these songs coming from our minds and our souls that are relevant to what we feel. I will not let them muthaf**kas say we are in the same league as him. Kick him off the air forever."
I kind of hate you right now Snoop. Maybe even more than I did when you brought those women to the MTV Awards on a leash. You have a wife and I'm pretty sure, a daughter. So, though you are not referring to them when talking about hos, surely you see the problem with leading a WOMAN around on a LEASH. I suppose at this point, you are still saying it's not your wife or daughter, but what message are you sending? Can you really get mad if your daughter shows up on someone's leash one day?
But let's get back to the point at hand, an elderly, white, male radio personality referred to a group of young, educated black women as hos. This is not just a black issue. He made it racial by adding the nappy-headed part, but not only black people are up in arms over this. True, some people are weighing in for their own personal gain, but that's neither here nor there.
Barack Obama called the comments "divisive, hurtful, and offensive to Americans of all backgrounds." Kind of pat, but a response nonetheless. Hillary Clinton dedicated space on her website for people to send their support. The National Organization of Women jumped on the bandwagon, too. Though a bit late to the party, the Journalism and Women Symposium also added their two cents.
I think the bottom line is for you not to come out of your mouth against a group of women who did nothing to deserve it. The team captain is a straight-A student who plays the piano, bass guitar, drums and saxophone. The team includes All-Americans, a future attorney, a psychology major a player of the year. And this is how they are rewarded.Talk about kicking someone while they're down. They'd just lost the national championship. You are talking about someone's sister, someone's daughter. Do you know how I would react if someone attacked my sister or child like this?
Black people have a tendency to group identify. When you attack one black person, many feel like you're attacking all black people. This particular incident also has a sense of no matter what you accomplish, to some people you are still nothing but a nappy-headed ho. So maybe there is a lesson in this after all.
For Previous State of Black America posts, go here.