Sankofa (A look back)
“Nappy headed hos.” That was the downfall of nationally recognized Radio and TV personality, Don Imus. As part of our observance of Women’s History Month – March 2018, we look back at our second issue published in April, 2007 Volume 1.2. Enjoy.
Let’s bring civility back.
The Rutgers women’s basketball team won 22 of 25 games, which took them to the top of the NCAA playoffs. They lost to the University of Tennessee on April 3rd. Since that devastating lost (59-46) the young women had begun to settle in for a “life as usual” on the campuses of Rutgers University. Then, Shock Jock Don Imus and his producer, Bernard McGuirk uttered outrageous racist and sexist comments about the mostly black female team on Imus’ daily morning radio/TV show.
Imus insinuated that the women were tough, unfeminine and called them “Nappy headed hos”. Two days later, Imus profusely apologized for his remarks. But political and activist organizations are asking for Imus to be fired. The groups led by Rev. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and others have opened a debate about the use of hateful, hurtful language in the media. (Imus has accepted a two week suspension.)
In my opinion, Imus was trying to be hip. His “joke” was a parody of the gangsta rap music genre of the Hip-Hop culture. In his own defense on the Today show, he noted that black men (rappers) also use such derogatory and demeaning language characterizing black women, but no one calls for their dismissal. He said that there is a double standard by which he is being judged.
I agree. There should not be a double standard. Hate speech is bad regardless of the color of the person who speaks it. Just because black people call themselves hateful names doesn’t make it right.
In my opinion, some words should be retired from the English language. At the top of the list is nigger, followed by chink, spick, wop, faggot, dyke, ho, and bitch.
A small number of Hip-Hop artists are making millions of dollars spewing hateful speech that degrades women. The entire Hip-Hop industry, controlled by white multi-national corporations, is making tens of millions of dollars producing and distributing musical content that generally denigrates the African-American culture.
I understand the need for self-expression and the freedom of speech. I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t believe in the right to proffer opinions even when they are controversial and disturbing. As an artist I also can relate to the need to feel unfettered when creating art. But enough is enough. Black women have been characterized as bitches and hos. Black men have been demonized and labeled as niggers. What hurts the most is that black artists are leading the hateful propaganda charge.
At the core of the issue are the hate, anger and disrespect that exist between black males and black females. In many relationships, in the black community there is an unhealthy adversarial competition among young men and women. This cultural self-hatred should be acknowledged; our very survival depends on a thorough examination of the root causes of the animosity and enmity between black men and black women.
The Hip-Hop culture has brought the ugly truth into the light, “there is no love in the ghetto.” Low-income African-American families are caught in a cycle of crime, illegal drug addiction, unwanted teen pregnancies, poverty, hopelessness and despair. For these people, life is without joy; exploitation, manipulation and discrimination dominate their lives. They believe that they are powerless.
We don’t need a rich, famous, middle-aged, white radio personality, backed by the powerful corporate media, to dump extra pain and suffering on the deserving young women of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Basketball team.
As the current Imus flap unfolds, I hope that we take the opportunity to examine the deeper ramifications of his remarks. The American people need to declare to the world that such comments are “deplorable, despicable and unconscionable”. And within the black community, we need to stop calling each other bitches, niggers and hos.
And as far Mr. Imus is concerned, I am amazed that the public considers what he does as entertainment. He has been rated as one of the most influential radio commentators in the country. His deep melodic voice of insults and rude remarks is heard by millions of people daily. But, I never thought he was funny.
Where’s the civility? Where is the mutual respect? Where’s the love? Women, particularly black women deserve greater respect.
Do you use the “N-word” to describe an African-American? Do you call a black woman a ho? Do you know anyone that does use such degrading language? Why do black people demean themselves? How can we turn this strange phenomena around?
Should we burn gangsta rap CD’s that use such disgusting lyrics? Should we boycott recording companies that distribute hateful speech? Should we ban such destructive language?
Or should we provide the counter balance of a positive re-affirming language of self-love and respect. Can we publish a newsletter that showcases the talents of the African-American community? Can we display the other side that is usually overlooked in the traditional news media?
I think the time is right for good people to come together and express their disdain for a society that tacitly condones racism and sexism.
Let’s start a dialogue to end hate speech. Let’s offer an African-American Perspective.