Don Imus is a Dick…I Challenge Anyone to Prove Me Otherwise
D-Wil brought the fire with his incisive vitriol so now it’s time for me to bring the ice.
Believe me, I don’t want to be on my computer at 8:30 on a Saturday night. I want to be watching the Nets/Chicago game. I want my feet kicked up and my beer lampin’ on the night stand. That is what I want; what I have earned.
But I can’t get this anger out my gut so I have to write it out. If I didn’t add my two cents to the conversation then I wouldn’t be able to look at all the black women I love and who love me. In their names I have to say something. It’s my duty.
See, that’s what people like Don Imus don’t seem to get. As old as he is, he still doesn’t understand that it’s not – and never will be – okay for him to air his disgusting prejudices on the airwaves. I can’t police what a man believes. I have no desire to change his heart. He’s too old for me to waste my breathe. I only want him to grasp that in all of his time of living and with all of the fruits this nation has bestowed upon his soul, he has remained woefully ignorant. Let me repeat myself so that I’m clear. The real shame of the Don Imus debacle is that a man fast approaching 70, a man who came of age as black Americans were fighting in earnest for their civil liberties and who ripened into manhood beneath the banner of this nation’s only legitimate cultural revolution, didn’t know any better. Don, baby, are you that out of it?
That’s the shame.
The sadness is this: Imus and his gang were just trying to be hip. They were using the slang of the day. They were attempting to sound as though they have a clue of what goes on outside of their heavily insulated worlds. What they wound up sounding like were a pair of tourists – American tourists – who’d studied a slang dictionary for a few hours and assured themselves they had a foreign language all figured out.
The reference to Spike Lee’s School Daze might’ve been the worst slap in the face of all. You had to see the movie to understand the context to know when to use it as a reference point. Objectively speaking, calling the Rutgers-Tennessee game a matchup between the “Jiggerboos and the Wannabees” fit Spike’s archetype to a T. On college campuses – and in the community as a whole – color (and hair texture) has everything to do with who is valued and who is not, who is acceptable and who is not, who is authentic and who is not:
‘If you light you alright.
If your brown stick around.
If you black stay back.’
Red-bone brothers ain’t real brothers
Skin color is not just a sensitive issue for black folks– it’s downright painful. Darker skin black men and women do have “issues” with lighter-skinned black men and women and vice versa. What people like Imus and his cronies don’t get is how deeply entwined white America is in creating and perpetuating that rift.
That’s the sadness.
The trouble is Michael Richards just got slow-roasted for using the “N” word and Imus still lost control of his lips in public.
The trouble is Isaiah Washington was required to go to rehab. for his insensitive remarks about gays, comments he also thought were funny.
The trouble is Imus seems to think his insipid apology the following morning is enough. Nobody wants his apology. His corrosive, cancerous mouth should be silenced.
The trouble is that’s not going to happen.
The trouble is America is becoming too comfortable appropriating black language without appreciating black history.
That’s the trouble.
Black women already bear brunt of this society’s burden. Again, anyone who wants to challenge me on this I welcome it. They take care of everybody’s children and yet they get the lowest paid jobs. They are the moral and spiritual conscience of this nation and yet they are the least empowered. Dark-skinned black women – Jiggerboos, I should say – have historically caught hell from every angle. Their “darkness” (especially when linked with the word “ho’s”) has historically been associated with sexual promiscuity and social deviance. They are seen as less desirable within their families and within society as whole. Lighter skinned black women – the Wannabeess – have a whole other struggle to contend with. Being ‘light, bright and damn near white’ means men find them more desirable (notably, Mr. Imus deemed the Tennessee team “cute”), but it also means they catch flack from darker-skinned black women for that very reason.
Women athletes have enough to contend with without Don Imus using his bully-pulpit to ridicule them. From the moment a girl picks up a ball she is making a political statement. She is announcing that she’s going redefine what it means to be a woman in a man’s world, saying, she’s going to pursue a dream that will in all likelihood set her apart from her peers. From that point on she walks in the line of fire: men who are threatened by her; family who does not understand her; a society that says she is not a woman. Now add to that mix race and all of the baggage that comes with being black. Then add to the mix the intra-racial strife within the black community I’ve already mentioned.
If it sounds like America has done a number on black folks, that’s because it’s true…and I haven’t even scratched the surface. My brain hurts too much for that now Thinking about these issues is exhausting and time consuming. I’ve already missed half of the game and my beer is warm. Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” Well, I didn’t want to spend an hour writing this post. I don’t want to be that angry black guy who writes about black issues. But, if I have to bring the pain, I’ll bring it. It’s not all good out here. Racism is not a thing of the past. If nothing else, I can thank Imus and his chucklehead pals for reminding me of that.