Thursday, April 12, 2007

Firing Imus... another take...

Brothers and Sisters, while I certainly share the outrage at the overtly racist comments and the call to action, and I'm extremely pleased by the galvanizing effect that it has had on our community as well as our place in the larger context of society, I'm not so sure that we might not look for a more productive solution. Should he and his entire program be summarily yanked off the air today, that would indeed be a good thing that would send a powerful message. However, what would we gain from it. Seems like we'd be pretty much back where this started which is the realization that racism is still the third rail that we've seen demonstrated time and again when Imus or some other widely aclaimed idiot(s) temporarily loses sight of that fact and makes one of these comments like Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder, Howard Cosell, Al Campanis, Trent Lott, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Walsh, Texaco, Colgate-Palmolive, et al. So usually what we have is a very public furor that runs its course and if anything, Jesse or Al or one their ilk makes a deal "for us" that only serves to line their pockets...Where am I going? Well, what if instead of calling for his immediate ouster, we recognized the following facts: 1) Right now, Imus, is desparate to repair his image with the only group that can offer him even a chance at forgiveness (us) and 2) Imus is a very, very rich and well-connected man. In my eyes that could make him the best white friend that Black America has. In short, pardon the expression but as the colloquialism says, we've got him by the short curlies. So why don't we use that to our collective advantage. Why not have him and his cronies who represent the poitical and business elite fund dozens, if not hundreds, of scholarships at Rutgers and through the UNCF for our kids in the name of the Rutgers Women's Basketball team? Why not require them to support and fund Candidate events for the Barack Obamas, Deval Patricks, and Cory Bookers? Why not build professional development centers in inner cities to benefit our socio-economically disadvantaged communities? I'm sure we all know that it can be done because it has been done recently and very well by every other ethnic group except us. Witness the ongoing clout that Jews, Asians, Asian Indians, and today even the Native American tribes are wielding when it comes to eco-political power. Bottom line for me is that we've done this dance before and effectively all of the individuals and organizations that I mentioned earlier paid the penalty of losing their standing temporarily due to their egregious statements but they all resurfaced at some point and all we had was the satisfaction of knowing that at least for awhile we had knocked them off their perches. Shouldn't we get wiser over time especially since these opportunities don't come along that frequently or do we follow the sage definition of insanity, "doing the same thing expecting a different result"? Just my thoughts. Yours...


Anonymous said...

Posted on Wed, Apr. 11, 2007
Imus isn’t the real bad guy
Instead of wasting time on irrelevant shock jock, black leaders need to be fighting a growing gangster culture.

Thank you, Don Imus. You’ve given us (black people) an excuse to avoid our real problem.

You’ve given Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson another opportunity to pretend that the old fight, which is now the safe and lucrative fight, is still the most important fight in our push for true economic and social equality.

You’ve given Vivian Stringer and Rutgers the chance to hold a nationally televised recruiting celebration expertly disguised as a news conference to respond to your poor attempt at humor.

Thank you, Don Imus. You extended Black History Month to April, and we can once again wallow in victimhood, protest like it’s 1965 and delude ourselves into believing that fixing your hatred is more necessary than eradicating our self-hatred.

The bigots win again.

While we’re fixated on a bad joke cracked by an irrelevant, bad shock jock, I’m sure at least one of the marvelous young women on the Rutgers basketball team is somewhere snapping her fingers to the beat of 50 Cent’s or Snoop Dogg’s or Young Jeezy’s latest ode glorifying nappy-headed pimps and hos.

I ain’t saying Jesse, Al and Vivian are gold-diggas, but they don’t have the heart to mount a legitimate campaign against the real black-folk killas.

It is us. At this time, we are our own worst enemies. We have allowed our youths to buy into a culture (hip hop) that has been perverted, corrupted and overtaken by prison culture. The music, attitude and behavior expressed in this culture is anti-black, anti-education, demeaning, self-destructive, pro-drug dealing and violent.

Rather than confront this heinous enemy from within, we sit back and wait for someone like Imus to have a slip of the tongue and make the mistake of repeating the things we say about ourselves.

It’s embarrassing. Dave Chappelle was offered $50 million to make racially insensitive jokes about black and white people on TV. He was hailed as a genius. Black comedians routinely crack jokes about white and black people, and we all laugh out loud.

I’m no Don Imus apologist. He and his tiny companion Mike Lupica blasted me after I fell out with ESPN. Imus is a hack.

But, in my view, he didn’t do anything outside the norm for shock jocks and comedians. He also offered an apology. That should’ve been the end of this whole affair. Instead, it’s only the beginning. It’s an opportunity for Stringer, Jackson and Sharpton to step on victim platforms and elevate themselves and their agenda$.

I watched the Rutgers news conference and was ashamed.

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke for eight minutes in 1963 at the March on Washington. At the time, black people could be lynched and denied fundamental rights with little thought. With the comments of a talk-show host most of her players had never heard of before last week serving as her excuse, Vivian Stringer rambled on for 30 minutes about the amazing season her team had.

Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that the comments of a man with virtually no connection to the sports world ruined Rutgers’ wonderful season. Had a broadcaster with credibility and a platform in the sports world uttered the words Imus did, I could understand a level of outrage.

But an hourlong press conference over a man who has already apologized, already been suspended and is already insignificant is just plain intellectually dishonest. This is opportunism. This is a distraction.

In the grand scheme, Don Imus is no threat to us in general and no threat to black women in particular. If his words are so powerful and so destructive and must be rebuked so forcefully, then what should we do about the idiot rappers on BET, MTV and every black-owned radio station in the country who use words much more powerful and much more destructive?

I don’t listen or watch Imus’ show regularly. Has he at any point glorified selling crack cocaine to black women? Has he celebrated black men shooting each other randomly? Has he suggested in any way that it’s cool to be a baby-daddy rather than a husband and a parent? Does he tell his listeners that they’re suckers for pursuing education and that they’re selling out their race if they do?

When Imus does any of that, call me and I’ll get upset. Until then, he is what he is — a washed-up shock jock who is very easy to ignore when you’re not looking to be made a victim.

No. We all know where the real battleground is. We know that the gangsta rappers and their followers in the athletic world have far bigger platforms to negatively define us than some old white man with a bad radio show. There’s no money and lots of danger in that battle, so Jesse and Al are going to sit it out.

To reach Jason Whitlock, call (816) 234-4869 or send e-mail to For previous columns, go to

innarae said...

Hey Rod Will...You bring out some interesting alternatives regarding how things could be handled...

Honestly, I cringed when I heard those disparaging words fall off of Imus' tongue. But I have to agree with Mr. Whitlock, since, when I overcame my initial shock; I sadly recalled some of the first words I've ever heard out of the mouths of my own black brothers and sisters.

All of my life, my brown-skinned peers, hailed the terms "Ho, Nappy-head, Blackie..." around like a banner of pride. They were used to hurt or exploit something about me that they had already learned to hate within themselves. Like a rite of passage, these words marked the onset of our self-expression, overwhelmed by self-loathing and a strong desire to identify with the mainstream of American Culture.

Clearly, it hasn't ended. Some spectators have considered that perhaps Imus felt comfortable coming in on the flipside of our double standard…taking the risk of calling out what he undeniably hears us calling each other. I am angry with that. But nothing compares to the despair I feel when healing the souls of our young girls and boys seems almost hopeless. And I can’t help but wonder...Is it because he is a white man that his words have sparked a national debate? Is it because we can’t deal with our own bitter name-calling and criticisms that we wish ill upon him? Why haven't we given the thousands of women who have been fighting to redefine ourselves this public platform?

I refuse to chime in against Imus without first looking at myself. And, when I look in the mirror I do not see a "HO" and as a matter of fact, I have nappy hair and I really do love it. I am content to hold my definition of self against the testimony of the inner creativity and strength exhibited through our people over the years. I'd rather bathe my mind in the myriad of accomplishments that are not often communicated over the airwaves. And when I look in the mirror neither Imus or anyone else's words can move me from those truths. But that's not painful, that’s not self-deprecating, that’s not needy, that’s not news. Is it?