Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Sad Tale of Don Imus: Racism and Sexism as Entertainment

We all knew Don Imus is an idiot. This not the first time he has made offensive racial, sexual or homophobic comments on the air. Since his sponsors and MSNBC have not had a problem with his “jokes” and listeners apparently have not been offended by his “humor” why would he think it was a problem to call the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos” and “rough girls with tattoos?”

His comments are reprehensible and, in my opinion, he should be fired. He expressed no remorse at all until it became clear that this would not just blow over. Then suddenly he is all sorry and telling us, “I’m not a racist.” Well, what would you call it, Don? On what planet is calling a largely black women’s team coached by a black woman coach “nappy-headed hos” not racist AND sexist.

I am so sick of people spouting racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-semitic crap and then making non-apologies (“I’m sorry if I offended anyone.”) and/or going off to rehab for a few days and thinking it is all ok. This is so much bigger and deeper than most of us have the courage to admit.

It’s our fault, you know. We tolerate this bigotry out of apathy, helplessness, or whatever else keeps us silent and so it goes on. Imus will be suspended for two weeks and then be back no doubt to treat us to more of his ignorant rants. His corporate sponsors will revel in the added attention to his show (they have no social conscience unless it makes more money for them). MSNBC will disavow his comments. Yada, Yada Yada.

Every one of us who care about social justice in or out of women’s sports should be in their face about this incident and every other time it happens. If we aren’t, we are complicit in tolerating racism, sexism and homophobia and should not be eternally surprised when it happens again and again.


Carol Anne (aka Scamp) said...

Don't give up! The Imus situation inspired me to give $500.00 to NCLR and $250.00 to SoulForce. (All my tax refund and more.)

I've e-mailed MSNBC in protest. I've posted links and comments on various message boards. I've had a running e-mail conversation with a NewsWeek columnist (Mark Starr), trying to help him to understand all this. As of today, he still thinks it's okay to call the Rutgers team "ladies." Oh, well, some battles are just not worth it.

I am appalled at how many people (rarely using their own names) are Imus fans and/or defenders. At the same time, I am heartened by how many people are speaking out against his racism, sexism, etc.

calugg said...

Imus is but one part of the problem. I REALLY want every day folks to hold Imus' guests accountable as well. They've been providing him with political and $$ cover, excusing his bigotry. Well, Tom Oliphant, do you really think the RU women's basketball team is a bunch of .....?

BTW: The last month has been a classic set of "book ends" for me. I got my Ph.D. from Penn State in the mid-1990s and heard tons of stories about the horrors of Rene Portalnd. In 1996, I came to Rutgers as a baby prof.

The differences in coaches (Portland vs. Stringer) is eye-popping. Stringer runs a VERY tight ship, but she also models what she wants to see from her players. And UNLIKE Portland, she's not invasive. It's why the team has held together, particulraly under the current media glare. Portland ran Paranoid teams, Stringer stress responsibility and accountability.

And I've had players under both coaches in my various classes. The differences are telling. The RU players are more focused, less rattled by extraneous stuff.