My Response To Don Imus

My aunt gave me this doll when I was a little girl. From the sayings on her sweatshirt like "Say It Loud" and "I'm Proud", you can tell that I grew up in the late 60's. My parents were adamant about me having black dolls, which were a pretty new thing back then. They heard about the study showing that little black girls preferred white dolls to black dolls, which showed how little they valued themselves.

I still have this doll and think she is just adorable. I guess Don Imus would call her a "nappy-headed ho" because she is black and female.

I do not think he has learned his lesson. If those words fell from his mouth so easily when he saw the accomplished young black women of the Rutger's women's basketball team, then I don't think his mindset has changed so much in just a few days. That is how he views black females.

Life in general is difficult for all people. We all have mortality to deal with. There is sickness, natural disasters, violence. For women, we all have another whole level of issues to contend with. There is still much disrespect and violence against women of all races in the world and in this country. And being a black woman in this country, you can add another layer of difficulty. I'm not complaining that is just life. And for the most part, I deal with it and move on. But sometimes, I do feel the need to share my point of view. This is one of them.

For Mr. Imus to suddenly feel the need to refer to these women as "hoes" shows an enormous disrespect for all women. The National Organization For Women (NOW) has an Action Alert posted on their website.

I think Mr. Imus should be fired. I sent two emails stating so, one here and I also sent one to my local radio station. NOW makes it very easy to literally send a message to the powers that be. And when he added "nappy headed" it shows his particular disdain for black women. Black women's hair in its natual state has been disparaged in this country for as long as we have been here. We as black women know what the idealized beauty of perfect hair is and we know that it is not ours.

Kiri Davis, is a very talented young black woman who made a short film called "A Girl Like Me." This is an amazing and heartbreaking film showing young black women in America and their struggles with self-acceptance as they grow into adulthood. Please watch the video here.

This short film is a finalist for an award on CosmoGirl.* With Mr. Imus making such horrible comments, he made it that much harder for every little black girl who ever watches tv or listens to the radio.

*Updated 4/13/07 - The voting in the film contest has ended. *


Anonymous said…
I think Imus should be canned!!! He is an idiot that gets millions of $$$ for being stupid!!!
He made nasty comments about our Governor Bill Richardson which is the straw that broke this camels back.
I wish he would move out of our state, New Mexico would a much more beautiful place with him out of our state!!!
His broadcasting reminds me of Ted Knights character (Ted Baxter) on the old Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Enough is enough with all these celebrities and the stupid things that come out of their mouths!!!!
FH said…
I agree,he should be fired! He is an old SOB who can't think straight!

It's amazing that in 2007 somebody can even THINK that a group of college girls and athletes should be called what he said.It shows his "class" and how he was brought up!!

My daughter watched him on CNN this morning and she was fuming!
Tera said…
Anali, it's great that you put a post on about Imus...I alluded to this on my latest post. I think you are absolutely right, for that to roll off that easily, this must be a "normal" practice in his world. And I as an African-American female think that it is hard enough to beat the odds and the other stereotypes that are placed on us, and don't take these kind of offensive statements very lightly.

Of course the argument is that the Chris Rocks and Dave Chappelles of the world are "allowed" to do it, so why can't he? And I mean look at Howard Stern (I don't even need to comment further on him). So, what do you do? My children will tell you in a heartbeat..."We don't do color, my Mommy says that we are ALL human," but still has a little (Black) friend who told him that she wouldn't come to his party because he's invited White people. He just doesn't understand and told me that he can't forgive her for saying that. He also doesn't understand why people can be so cruel. We have periodical "History" lessons in my home, and I constantly tell my children that they should always stand up for what is "right (whatever the heck that is now days)."

To me, it all starts at home, and sadly, there are still people in this world who raise their children to be ignorant, and try to hold on to the ignorance and stupidity that was planted in them and their ancestors. I am actually quite elated that I can be those odds and I am exactly what people said Black women wouldn't be...I am strong, educated (MBA), a good mother, and yes, I live in the suburbs, and I work for my local government...the sooner people realize they can't LABEL groups of people and make hasty generalizations anymore, the better of this world will be.
I don't listen to Imus, so it took a day or two to catch up to me. If he'd watched the Rutgers/LSU game I watched the other night down at my local bar, there is no way he would have used any other term than "graceful, astoundingly athletic women who understand what teamwork means."

Anonymous said…
Well you know how I feel Anali. Black women are refered to as ho's all of the time in media by BLACK MEN, and brothas need to stop using that term, and that we shouldn't be surprsied when a White man thniks he can get away with it.

I'm saying, the more we use these words towards one another the less we have to stand on when they use them.

As for Imus, he should be fired, but we also need to fire these damn rappers and comedians who disrespect black women ALLL of the time and we look the other way because "they might entertain" a few us?
Nance said…
wonderful film, anali. i was happy to vote for it. as far as imus's comments, i find myself in agreement with dj black adam the most. i am sick of disparaging comments toward women in general by men in general. and i'm sick of anyone using the word "nigger" whether they pronounce it "nigga" or not. racism is wrong, period. "the n word" is wrong, period. cutting distinctions finely just makes for more wiggle room. what's wrong is wrong. for everyone.
jac said…
A nice hot subject, Anali my cousin!
I dunno anything about your country's politics and so so.

I saw the video and liked it, so touchy too.

I was in rage when that small girl pointed out the black doll as a bad character.

I fully support the views of dj black adam here
“but we also need to fire these damn rappers and comedians who disrespect black women ALLL of the time and we look the other way because "they might entertain" a few us?“
Nina said…
I don't agree with what Imus said. But with all this conversation circulating I find myself feeling rather disgusted. As a woman of color, yes, I'm offended. But I'm more offended by the fact that black rappers and entertainers get away with these types of comments all the time. Why isn't anyone wanting them to be fired?
Lisa Johnson said…
molly - Welcome! I agree that he should be fired.

asha - It definitely does show more about him than about the team. He has some serious problems. I've been fuming since this happened too!

tera - I'm glad you liked the post. I'm really shocked about your son's friend. Her mind is being poisoned. It's such a shame. If the parents teach their children hate, then it just continues.

As black women, we have so many negative stereotypes to overcome. I guess no matter how much we differ from how some people want to label us, if they are stuck in that mindset, no matter who we are as individuals, they will all see the same thing when they look at us.

bipolarlawyercook - "graceful, astoundingly athletic women who understand what teamwork means." Very nice. It's too bad that he could not see that.
Lisa Johnson said…
dj black adam - I agree with you wholeheartedly. I don't want to be called a "ho" by any man, regardless of color and no other woman should be called that either. I don't want to hear it in the music I listen to or see it in movies. It has to stop.

nance - I'm glad you liked the film and voted for it. It's pretty powerful. And for the N word - I hate it when anyone uses it.

jac - Glad you like it cuz! The movie just broke my heart when I firt saw it a few months ago and still does, but it also shows the strength that it takes just to "be" a black female in the US.

nina - I agree that there is a serious problem with rappers. I used to love rap when I was younger, but it's cnanged since then and even though I love the music, the message is often too negative. Not all of it, but way too much.
Tera said…
Great point made in if we refer to EACH OTHER in such derrogatory terms, why wouldn't Imus think it was okay for him to do so?

Nina~Unfortuantely, I don't think any rappers will be "fired," because they make these labels and producers MILLIONS of dollars with their music.

Anali~I hear was SO GOOD in the days of Audio Two, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Salt-n-Pepa, EPMD, MC Lyte, Boogie Down Productions, and Run DMC etc. Sadly though, we will NEVER have those days back! The most I can get into anymore is the BEAT! You know what, I take that've gotta have love for Outkast, Digable Planets, The Roots, Common, Mos Def, and a little Goodie Mob!
AVIANA said…
Did you get my comment?
AVIANA said…
No you didn't...

The truth of the matter is, making him apologize or taking his money is not going to make him all of a sudden a non-racist. All it will do is make him think before he speaks. It won't change his mind set.

If it was that easy for him to make that comment on air, in public, drunk or not, slip of the tongue or not...then think how he really thinks about blacks in private or more important the voting booth.

People like, Imus, Michael Richards, Mel Gibson, Mexico President Vincente Fox, Isaiah Thomas are not going to change simply by forcing an apology or making them pay some fee. It's pointless. It's not effective.

They will only change only once they come to a realization on their own. Yes this brings it to their attention but it won't change anything.

My thoughts...

Tera said…
Oh my goodness Lisa, I totally agree with you! Apologies mean NOTHING, because they say "sorry," but really don't mean it! I mean of course making them pay hits them where it hurts (the pockets ALWAYS hurt), but does not make the racism go away!

Not very effective AT ALL!
Parisbreakfasts said…
Thank you Anali for this post and the excellent video and for NOW.
The utter casualness of Imus' comments struck me as brutal.
And then to explain it as a joke?!
How to change the feelings of selfworth of those children is the first step toward recovery.
Tera said…
But of course! They have an "image" to uphold which I am sure bears more weight than the remarks from that racist SOB!
vasilisa said…
I wish people just kind of grew up and moved beyond gender, or colour, or nationality... But I guess some are still stuck in middle ages... And it really sucks that some of them have media attention and think they can get away with everything...
Mosilager said…
It's interesting that coverage in the media over this has now shifted to rap artists using the word "ho" to refer to women in their songs and how that should be curtailed as well.

I think that's a different issue than the one Imus has raised, which is that of a pervasive racist attitude that just refuses to go away no matter how many strides we take. Media seems to be hell-bent on diverting the attention away from racism and towards an issue of just disrespect towards women.

Or maybe I'm just overanalysing this. Anyway, good on you for blogging about this Anali.
David Sullivan said…
I've always disliked Imus for the simple fact that he isn't funny.

This won't be the last time somebody says something or does something totally f-ed up, so I don't understand why everyone is so outraged and surprised. I hear racially insensitive comments daily in the media about gays, jews, catholics, asians, whites, muslims, women, and the list goes on.

His rant had serious racial overtones, but it bothers me that anyone of any race or gender uses any language that demeans or devalues anyone.

Money is eveything in this country, so don't support any sponsors that advertise on his show. Sounds too simplistic, but with no sponsors, he's gone.
(MSNBC has dumped him this AM!!)

Jessie said it best, "maybe he is a bad man who does good things" insted of Imus's proclaimation that "I am a good man, who did a bad thing".
Tera said…
You know I wasn't going to mention Jessie (or Al Sharpton), but since you brought it up David ;)

It amazes me that Al Sharpton has immediately run to his defense, I think that all of this makes it evident that people are missing the real issue. Just because he has apologized, and/has been fired, doesn't mean that this "goes away." MONEY TALKS, and that's the ONLY reason why he was fired, not because of what he said! And a caller on the radio this morning was so correct in that, "All they'll do is get another Don Imus who will be a little bit slicker about how he choses to word things."

Jessie and Al are quick to comment on this, but let's think about them, what are they really doing? Another caller this morning said they are still treating issues and leading people as if it were still 1965. This is a new day and is 2007...and although many of the problems still exist (perhaps to a lesser degree), there are different and/more issues, which would logically imply different/better leadership.

This will NEVER go away. And I am not sure that I appreciate the "shift" in where the finger is pointed...which rap music is ALWAYS a target. The bottom line is, HE KNEW BETTER. I don't care if Snoop says it, or 50-Cent or whomever (no that doesn't make it right), he had no business saying it.

Should he have lost his job? We tend to have many hypocrites living in this country. Producers begged and offered millions of dollars for Dave Chappelle to come back and continue to belt out his racial slurs and remarks before the viewers in this country, but they fired Imus???
Peter N said…
He (IMUS) has been getting away with his "asides" for decades. Now MSNBC has rid their hands of him. I promise you, CBS radio, the losers that they are, will too. BEFORE his 2 week "vacation." And I'm a guy, a friend, I hope, that listens to Howard on Sirius. And I enjoy it!
Anali, I enjoyed your post. Peter
amisha said…
hi there anali,
hear hear to this post! good for you for blogging about this. the whole imus episode has been making me ill (though happy to see that he is off the air for awhile... not that it helped rush limbaugh much!)
feminist law professors blog had an interesting post about this. namely that the media reporting has been problematic... when they are reporting about someone like michael richards or mel gibson they don't repeat the slur (n-word or k-word or whatnot) but when it is a slur against women (h-word) they will say it, and this just emphasizes a climate of hatred for women. what do you think about this? i have to say that i think it is a good point. there are all these slurs against women that don't get "bleeped".
Lotus Reads said…
Bravo, Anali, you said it so well and so have your readers...I am in total agreement with your views...shame on Don Imus...glad MSNBC dropped his show. It's time people realized you cannot say irresponsible things and get away with it.
Nance said…
mosilager said:

Media seems to be hell-bent on diverting the attention away from racism and towards an issue of just disrespect towards women.

"JUST" disrespect towards women? yikes.
Lisa Johnson said…
tera - Wow! You have been a busy commenter! I appreciate all the feedback to my comments and everyone else's too!

"I hear was SO GOOD in the days of Audio Two, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Salt-n-Pepa, EPMD, MC Lyte, Boogie Down Productions, and Run DMC etc. Sadly though, we will NEVER have those days back! The most I can get into anymore is the BEAT! You know what, I take that've gotta have love for Outkast, Digable Planets, The Roots, Common, Mos Def, and a little Goodie Mob!"

You're bringing back some great memories with this music! I was certainly down with BDP! : )

And there are positive rap artists out there now too, but I don't know how profitable they are, which is what it comes back to - money. I really wish that some of the more positive rap artists and comedians would start speaking out too, but unless the people who are buying most of this negative rap start boycotting it, or get sick of it, not much will change.

And my understanding is that a large number, if not the majority of this group is young white men in the suburbs. When they hear these rappers talking about "hos" who do they visualize? Their girlfriends, future wives, mothers, sisters, aunts? I don't think so. Now this is a big generalization, because there are many progressive white men.

But what about the ones who are not? These young men become part of the power structure. When they see someone like me who wants to buy a car, get a job or mortgage from them, do they see me the individual? Or do they see an amalgam of all these "hos?" This is just what Don Imus did. It's more than just tv or radio. It's about how people like me are treated in their day to day lives by people who are ingesting his poison.

A few times in the summer, I was getting gas at a self-serve gas station and had on a regular summer outfit. Nothing crazy, but I was showing some leg. Then these young white guys drive in with their radios blasting music saying everything we've talked about. They were singing along using the N word and were very comfortable with it. I felt very uncomfortable.

I've felt just as uncomfortable when it has happened with young black guys too, but there is usually some difference in the knowledge of history of blacks in this country. And on the train I've seen young asian and hispanic guys doing the same thing. So many young men feel very comfortable singing along to this music in public. It makes me cringe.

Rap has crossed all racial borders and it is exported to other countries, but if the listener does not have positive images of black women in their life, this is their example. Okay this comment is too long. That's it.
Lisa Johnson said…
lisa francisco - I totally agree with you. An apology is a start, but in a case like this, he just doesn't get it. All the people you mentioned who apologize, then go to "intolerance rehab" for whatever their particular intolerance is, still don't get it most likely.

parisbreakfasts - You're welcome. And "brutal" is the perfect word for what he did. When I heard about this it was like I was punched in the stomach.

suttonhoo - I am so glad! It all came down to money.

"MSNBC's action came after a growing list of sponsors -- including American Express Co., Sprint Nextel Corp., Staples Inc., Procter & Gamble Co., and General Motors Corp. -- said they were pulling ads from Imus' show for the indefinite future."

vasilisa - It is pretty unbelievable what people think they can get away with. But I don't think that we will or should move beyond color, gender or nationality. We are all different, but that is a good thing!

It would be boring if we were all the same. I wish we could get to the point where we celebrate and appreciate our differences and learn from each other. The idea of a "color-blind society" is not a good thing to me. And to merely "tolerate" people who are different is just as bad. The whole "tolerance" thing is very overrated.

Someone white once told me they didn't consider me black. They didn't see color. I think they thought it was a compliment, but it wasn't. I consider myself black and if someone doesn't see me that way, then they are ignoring part of what makes me who I am.
Lisa Johnson said…
mosilager - No I don't think you are overanalyzing this. Part of the problem with this country is that people don't analyze enough, but that is a whole other issue. This is a race and gender issue together though. No question about it.

david sullivan - Welcome! You got it right with the money. That's what it came down to. And it's crazy all the things that people say on the air that they think is okay. I guess the good thing is that it gets people talking and communication is the only way that people will learn to understand each other better.

peter n - I'm glad that he's gone from MSNBC. Now I hope that CBS gets their act together. And I agree that it was going to be a 2 week "vacation." But I have to say that I can't stand Howard Stern.

amisha - Very interesting point that you're making. I was listening to "On Point" on NPR where they were talking about this. I feel like I am constantly hearing the "h-word" now. And on the show they played part of a song that was just horrible, to give an example. And I'll have to check out the post that you mentioned. There is a serious disrespect for women in this country. Maybe if we talk about it, we can do something about it.

lotus reads - Thank you! Now CBS needs to get their act together!

nance - Hmmm interesting. Mosilager?
Mosilager said…
nance - I didn't mean to say that racism is better than gender bias. I used "just" in the sense that gender bias and racism are being separated and in no way meant that one was more excusable than the other.

Sort of like the statement "I love mint and chocolate, not just chocolate." I am in no way implying any quality difference between the two.
Mosilager said…
oops i meant sexism, not gender bias. just couldn't think of the appropriate word.
Lisa Johnson said…
mosilager - I know these are some heated topics and I was pretty sure your heart was in the right place. I appreciate the clarifications! And you know I love the chocolate and mint comparison!
vasilisa said…
What I ment is move beyond judging by colour/nationality/gender... I am a Russian girl (Canadian now :-) ) married to an Indian guy, and if we listened to all the stereotypes out there we would've missed out on each other.

And I also would like the world to judge less by shades cause I want my kids to grow up without having to apologize for who they are. Luckily right now we live in a place where it's possible (Canada!). But I get apprehensive any time there are all those anti this/that feelings in the air. I guess living in a very multicultural area, I often forget how bigoted some people still are...
Lisa Johnson said…
vasilisa - Sorry if my comment sounded harsh! I totally see what you are saying, but your comment reminded me of other things that I thought would be good to point out too!
Sai said…
Dear Anali:

You have beautifully written this post! I am so glad this guy has been fired.

I cannot believe that he would be so demeaning towards such accomplished young ladies! The captain of the team was so composed and such a cultured young woman whose parents did a great job with her.
Lisa Johnson said…
sai - Thank you! I hope that maybe this whole mess will start a more positive dialogue in this country around issues of gender and race. The team members really were amazing, which makes it all the more horrifying that he said such awful things about them.
Anonymous said…
Everyone needs to get over it wasn't being racist,because he was referring to all the women on the team not just the black ones! Some people need to quit acting like white people are the only racists! I live in a neighborhood where little white kids can't even play for fear of being beaten or shot to death,yes I have seen it happen. Oh yeah and by the way before you jump to conclusions,I am black also. The people here now (white's) aren't responsible for slavery,they couldn't control what their ancestors did. GET OVER IT!
Lisa Johnson said…
anonymous – I wonder if you are the same anonymous who left a strikingly similar comment a few months ago? If you really believe what you are saying here, I would think you would want to leave a name to indentify yourself, so you can take ownership of your words.

The comment was racist, but we can agree to disagree. And yes some of the women on the team are not black, so it’s interesting that you are not talking about the sexism. Clearly Imus disrespects all women, otherwise why else would the h-word come into play? And him adding the part that especially applies to black women? I guess he was feeling pretty happy with himself and just threw that in for some extra glee. Yeah, you’re right. Imus is a highly evolved man sensitive to both women and people of color. His actions over the years have shown that. Yeah…

And I never said that there aren’t black people who treat white people badly. What you say is happening in your neighborhood is horrible. There are obviously some pretty messed up black people too.

And the slavery issue, I’m not going into that now, but there will be an upcoming post. I’m sure you will enjoy and agree with it just as much as you enjoyed and agreed with this one. Take care and don’t get too tangled up in your hood, I mean hoodie.
Anonymous said…
i'm late on this - but i wanted to say that is the CUTEST DOLL!!!

- capcity (too lazy to log in:-)
Lisa Johnson said…
capcity - Thank you! : )
I don't agree with Imus calling those young ladies hoes either ... but if the country is going to get in an uproar about that comment it would only be fair that they make it thst everyone is accountable for the things they say about people... Women were right to be offended but how many times have brothers had to endure man bashing from a sister in song or recent literature... for every foul mouthed rapper there is a Terry McMillan penning a book saying how brothers aint worth a damn ...
Freedom of Speech is at risk so it seems ... Im fine with that but let everyone be accountable for the garbage on the airwaves.. and please ladies stop dancing to 50 cent when he refers to you in a negative manner don't buy his cd's or purchase tickets to his concerts... I know the beat is infectious but the lyrics are cancerous ...
Lisa Johnson said…
cortneygee - Welcome! I agree that everyone needs to be held accountable for this language. Nobody should be saying it regardless of race. I must admit that I have enjoyed Ms. McMillan's books over the years, but I can see where black men would not be too keen on how they are often portrayed.

Freedom of Speech is not at risk. I specifically put the text of the First Amendment on my blog header. Freedom of Speech refers to the government's supression of its citizens. Imus was not arrested by the police for his statements and nobody is at risk of that based on this incident. Market forces determined his fate. It was all about the money, not freedom of speech. And I agree with you again about dancing to negative lyrics and buying this music. It has to stop.
thanks for the welcome love and I shall make sure to come by and drop off dribble on your topics .. hope you and your friends do the same with mine.. the door is open for more readers on my spizzle( that's spot if you ain't hip...)
Lisa Johnson said…
cortneygee - You're welcome and I'll be sure to drop by!

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