What should be done about Don Imus?

BlogHer Original Post

By now, you probably know that last week, popular radio host Don Imus opened his mouth and inserted his foot so far down his gullet, it may take the jaws of life to get it out. On April 4, the 39th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination, Imus called the NCAA-finalist Rutgers women basketball team "nappy-headed hos", and calls for his dismissal have been coming ever since. The apologies from the I-man and his network have been weighed and found wanting. Part of the problem, of course, is that it's not the first time, as Richard Prince notes:

"On March 6, MediaMatters reports, [Imus show producer Bernard] McGuirk said that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was 'trying to sound black in front of a black audience" when she gave a speech on March 4 in Selma, Ala., to commemorate the 1965 'Bloody Sunday' civil rights march.

"McGuirk added that Clinton "will have cornrows and gold teeth before this fight" with Sen. Barack Obama is over. Earlier in the program, in reference to Clinton's speech, McGuirk had said, "Bitch is gonna be wearing cornrows." McGuirk also said that Clinton will be "giving Crips signs during speeches," the Web site reported, in a reference to the Los Angeles-based street gang.

"Gaines said MSNBC's statement on the comments about the Rutgers team also applied to those about Clinton.

"In the previous decade, when PBS' Gwen Ifill was a member of the New York Times' Washington Bureau, Imus said of her: "Isn't The Times wonderful? It lets the cleaning lady cover the White House," the late Lars-Eric Nelson reported in 1998 in the New York Daily News.

"In the same column, Nelson reported that Imus described Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz as a 'boner-nosed, beanie-wearing Jew boy...'

And in the midst of the ferment, Roland Martin asks, Where are the feminists?

"[I]t is insulting that, as usual, African Americans have had to carry this load. Any person with half a brain would think that female-focused groups would join in the chorus of people weighing in on this controversy. But no!"

I'm not sure Roland has read Liza's take on the issue, but he might appreciate the way she breaks it down. It's Patricia Hill Collins redux:

"[T]this is about Imus and Co. demeaning those women using a common racist denigration of hair texture — nothing more needs to be telegraphed — kinky hair=bad, ugly, animalistic, straight hair=good, attractive. And to top it off, those nappy-headed gals at Rutgers are therefore ‘hos as well. Nice.

"And people wonder why so many black women have a complex about their hair, gooping it up with nasty lye relaxers, frying their scalp with hot combs? The self-loathing is so culturally ingrained, so pathological, and it’s reinforced by the messages like the ones Imus and friends are having a great laugh over. It’s toxic and ignorant...."

What do you think? Should Imus lose his job? Should women editors, politicians and activists weigh in on the controversy?


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