I am so angry I hardly know where to start. Don Imus’ racist, pig-headed, degrading, insulting comments about the players of the Rutger’s Women’s Basketball Team make me sick. Physically sick, close to vomiting.
I would love to see him fired, but I don’t think that is going to happen. That is a shame.
I need to vent: America is a racist country. I love this place – I am incredibly proud to be an American and I embrace my country, my flag, and our history, warts and all, because despite everything, I think this is the most amazing country in the history of the world. But we are stupid when it comes to racism.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that we do not understand, nor do we properly study, the history of slavery in America. Why not? Because if we did, it would make white people feel bad. The truth of the matter is that this country was built on the backs and in the blood of millions of enslaved people. (Read Complicity; How The North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery.) And that is an uncomfortable truth to ponder.
We need to learn about slavery to understand how we got here. We need to admit that many people are ignorant of cultures other than their own. We all need to talk to each other, and offer respect instead of assumptions. And speaking as a white woman to all my friends and readers out there who are white: we have to stop allowing comments like Imus’ to pass without loud and immediate outrage and consequence.
What about free speech? you ask. Isn’t the man allowed to say what he feels?
Yes, that is another beauty of America – freedom of speech and thought. He can say whatever he wants. So can I. And I can choose to boycott his radio station and his television station and all of the sponsors of his show, and I will. I will also find it hard to vote or support any politician who goes on Imus show after this, unless and until the man shows real growth and change.
And don’t even think about getting in my face and saying that the language Imus used is acceptable because it can be found in the lyrics of black hip-hop singers. Since when have we used the language and attitudes and behavior that is found and praised in popular music as our benchmark for what is acceptable? There is a vigorous debate in the African-American community about hip-hop lyrics and how language can/should be used. (You might also want to read The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn’t and Why by Jabari Asim.) I don’t see a place for my voice in that discussion. But I can sure as hell call out a white guy on the carpet for bringing down my country and harming a group of talented young women.
::pauses for breath::
Maybe, just maybe, we can turn his ugly language and attitudes into a teachable moment. If this happens, it will be because Coach C. Vivian Stringer is an amazing American woman, and her team is a class act. The team held a press conference today to respond to Imus’ hateful comments. (Learn more about the individual players from Sports Illustrated.)
Coach Stringer could write volumes about rising above pain and oppression.
Remember that phrase “sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me”? That’s a lie. Words hurt. Words hurt deeply.