By Councilman Charles Barron
The genesis of Imus’ racism and sexism is not rooted in rap music. It did not come from listening to Snoop Dogg or 50 Cents.
He had the unmitigated gall to lecture us about the negative lyrics of rap artists, now that he is in hot water because of his outrageous denigrating, racist, sexist remarks about the predominately Black Rutgers women’s basketball team – remarks so repugnant, disgusting and sickening it doesn’t warrant repeating.
Don Imus is a repeating racist offender. This wasn’t the first time. He referred to the two Black women queens of tennis, Venus and Serena Williams, as animals who belonged in National Geographic Magazine. He called a prominent Black female journalist a cleaning lady. He dissed Maya Angelou. None of this happened because he was listening to rap music.
I will be the first to say that some rap music is vile, disgusting, misogynist, sexist, self destructive, hurtful, and embarrassing. We must continue to speak out against that kind of rap music and promote more positive rap on the airways.
But let’s put this in perspective. The “N” word didn’t originate from rap music. Denigrating Black women did not start with rap music. Rap music is only 30 to 40 years old. The “N” word and disrespecting Black women is as old as this country. It started with the racist white male founding fathers who Imus thinks like.
Remember George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson raped a 14 year-old enslaved African girl named Sally Hemmings. Remember the founding fathers called us Coons, Sambo, Savages, Animals, “B’s”s and “N’s.” Jiggaboos, Imus, came from racist white men like you, not Spike Lee’s movie “School Daze.” By the way, Spike’s message in “School Daze” was to raise our consciousness regarding the internalization of our racist oppression, not to denigrate Black women as you did.
When Al Campanis said that Blacks don’t swim well because they lack buoyancy, he was fired. When Howard Cosell said a Black football player was running like a little monkey, he was fired. When Jimmy “the Greek” made racial comments about black athletes, he was fired. Iums, you continued in that racist tradition. These young dignified Black women and their coach from the Rutgers women’s basketball team did nothing to warrant these vile racist remarks from Imus. This came from the depth of his being. He is not a good man who said something bad. He is a racist, mean-spirited bigot, who got what he deserved from MSNBC and CBS.
MSNBC and CBS was under pressure from Black women in particular and women in general across this nation. They were under pressure from Black men who stood strong to protect their sisters, wives, mothers, and grandmothers. They were under pressure from Black leaders and presidential candidates. Certainly the dignified response of the coach and young women from this Rutgers team had an impact. MSNBC and CBS were also influenced by the internal discussions and pressure from their staff, particularly their Black staff members.
But make no mistake about it. It was the power of the people that forced major advertisers to threaten to pull their ads. Thats when MSNBC and CBS got the message. They were concerned about their pockets. Unfortunately, that’s what it takes for people in power to do the right thing.
The Imus situation has put racism and sexism, which permeates every institution in America, on the front burner as issues to be seriously addressed.