Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Don Imus

So the d.j. who called the women of the mostly black Rutgers basketball team "nappy-headed hos" has been let go from simulcast on MSNBC. That's some consolation, knowing that when people respond to such hateful remarks then companies listen (even if just for no other reason that economic boycott--yep, it's still powerful). Granted he will probably keep his radio show, but at least something has been done.

Unfortunately remarks like this aren't all that uncommon. Women are referred to in derogatory terms in music, film, and other media daily. For the record, I don't think calling a woman a bitch or a ho in a rap song is OK. Remarks like that trickle down to the culture and are demeaning even if they aren't meant to be. (Side note: One creative way to resist the negativity associated with words is to reappropriate them--i.e. Bitch Magazine--but that does not completely remove its power b/c broader society still utilizes them in offensive ways).

And I'm for freedom of speech, but I do think there needs to be accountability for racist and sexist slurs such as these.

Political talk shows, from every side of the spectrum, are routinely offensive to any number of groups. But at least they are trying to make a point. At least they have a context. They might be trying to make a point I find offensive or don't agree with, but at least there is a point.

We are all a little (or a lot) racist and sexist. Unsolicited remarks such as Imus' show how fallen and insensitive we are. The whole thing makes me examine myself. Imus spoke these slurs not knowing anything about the women on this team. Nothing about their character, lives, or accomplishments. If I really believe all people are equal, then I will treat them as such by the words that I speak.

I think about all it has taken for women to be recognized as athletes, let alone for women of color to play on integrated college teams. We still have so much left to fight for if such a prominent figure can dismiss the collective and individual accomplishments of women and women of color so easily.

Moreover it makes me realize how much fight I've got left...

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