Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Anything You Can Do I Can Do Too...Or No?

By now you probably have heard at least a little bit about the comments radio shock-jock Don Imus made about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. Now, I’m throwing my two-cents in. Why? Because thank God, I have a surplus of pennies. That’s why.

What ever happened to free speech? Don Imus called the girls "nappy-headed hoes". It’s not like he used the "n"-word (which, it must be remembered, is said by more African-Americans than whites). Is expressing one's opinion no longer acceptable? Is joking, even in bad taste, no longer allowed? You ask me, this is making an aircraft carrier out of a schooner. People rushed to judgment about this so quickly.

Rutgers could have simply shrugged his words off as a commentator doing his thing, expressing his opinion in a way that some find funny, and others offensive. No one forces people to listen to or watch Imus – they do so of their own accord. It’s likely that the Rutgers University girls, and their coach, didn’t hear the broadcast themselves. As far as incendiary comments go, “nappy-headed hoes” is pretty light compared to what others say.

Now, though, we have opportunists like the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson talking marches and revving up the country for race riots – that’s what they’re doing. That’s what they usually do – they don’t seem out for meaningful change. Any time they're worried people are going to forget about them, they manage to weasel their way back in. If I find it difficult to associate Rev. Al with anything but opportunism, that’s not my fault – it’s his.

It might be my particular problem with him, but I think in general he’s a counterproductive presence. I mean, you may have heard him some months ago railing about the fatal shooting of a black man by cops on the night of his own bachelor party in Queens?

We heard a lot from Rev. Sharpton about the white officers involved, but didn’t hear much from him about the black NYPD officer who also participated in shooting of Sean Bell. From the way Rev. Sharpton and others sometimes speak, you would think the NYPD is one step away from being a bunch of brown shirts.

Rev. Al and Jesse Jackson like to act as if they are this generation's Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks or Malcolm X – or all three rolled into one - when they are nothing like those figures...and never will be. It’s because they are the way they are, but also more because for all its issues, America today thankfully isn't like what it was in their day. Evolution isn't limited to plant and animal life.

Don Imus is no George Wallace. He's no David Duke. He’s no Howard Stern, either (Stern, at least, has had naked boobies on his show. God bless him). If Imus is worthy of any real opprobrium, it’s gotta be because of his hair. Talk about “nappy-headed”.


You know, it's too bad. The Rutgers girls' accomplishments – getting as far as they did - should stand on their own. Now, though, people are more likely to remember that Imus said what he said, and less likely to remember that the Rutgers' girls basketball team made it to the national championship game after a poor start at the beginning of the season. Come on, they beat Arizona State in tourney play – that alone makes ‘em winners in my book.

And I don’t think that this undue attention on his comments is the fault of Imus himself.

Maybe since they'd just lost a national game they worked quite hard to get to, feelings at Rutgers were raw, they didn't want their hard work to be forgotten, and so a big deal was made over this, a big deal that in the end diminishes what they did.

Rutgers University has allowed Don Imus’s comments, made in jest, to determine the nature of what, years down the line, people will remember about the end of their season. That’s the last thing Rutgers should want, whether they get good press, bad press, or no press at all.

If you ask me, if Don Imus must pay a price, get suspended and apologize, every rapper that has ever talked about shooting at cops or slappin' his hoes or bitches should be held accountable for their words too. None of this “it’s only entertainment” bullshit – not if it’s okay to vilify Don Imus but let 50 Cent off the hook. Don’t get me wrong – I like some hip-hop, to a certain degree.

But, but...if my saying "nigger" earns me an ass-beating, while Jamal gets a handshake or even a hug after saying the same word...that's wrong. Holding whites accountable for their words while letting blacks slide is…well, it’s racist!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am an African American women who grew up in the 60's. I know what i saw. It was not middle-class blacks who took the beat-down. Most of them own their own cars and didn't have to face whites who were irate over bus-seat issue. This has always been the tactic of rabblerousers throughout history. The peasants kill each other while they dine and make deals that benefit mainly themselves. Maybe, just maybe they realize the gig is up. No more scapegoating the least powerful to gain personal power. I hope that those of us who know we will be on the receiving end of any violence can make those who don't know believe that all this angry talk is not about us.