Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Imus

If you've watched any news program at all over the last few days then you have seen the trouble that Don Imus has gotten himself into:

IMUS: That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and --
McGUIRK: Some hard-core hos.
IMUS: That's some nappy-headed hos there. I'm gonna tell you that now, man, that's some -- woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like -- kinda like -- I don't know.
McGUIRK: A Spike Lee thing.
...ROSENBERG: It was a tough watch. The more I look at Rutgers, they look exactly like the Toronto Raptors.


First of all, you need to understand that Imus calls everyone a ho.... including his own wife who he refers to as a "Green Ho" because of her environmental concerns. I'm not sure if the outrage centers more on the fact that he used the term "ho" or the fact that he used the term "nappy headed." I do know that Imus spent almost his entire show apologizing for it and then had to go on the Al Sharpton show and be dressed down by Sharpton, who is calling for him to be fired.

Personally, I think you are beginning to cross a line when you start to censor a comedian and commentator, which is what Don Imus is. But more importantly I think if you are going to start dressing down anyone who uses derogatory language regarding black women then Don Imus would have to get at the end of a very, very long line that starts with black rap artists. Do you want to know what racist is? Racist is saying nothing about a rap artist who sings "women ain't nothing but ho's and tricks" because he is black, but trying to get Don Imus fired because he is white.

I am in no way saying that what Don Imus said was right. On the contrary, I believe that a person who is in the public forum has a responsibility to the general public. What I am saying is that the responsibility that lies with Don Imus also lies with all of the people who are now calling for him to be fired. If you are outraged by the sort of language that Don Imus used then you should be attacking everyone who uses that language regardless of race.

If both of the basketball teams had consisted of mostly white girls and Don Imus had commented that one of the teams looked like Barbie dolls and the other one looked like the East German swim team, would there have been the same outcry? No, there would not, because he is white and he would have been talking about white girls. This may seem like a radical thought, but the truth is that in order for racism to truly be stamped out in his country a person has to feel they can make fun of you regardless of your race. Every time a person has to stop and check themselves from saying something because the subject of their comment is a different race it serves to remind them that they are different. When in fact, we are not different. If a person is put into a position where they have to be constantly on guard whenever they speak to or about a member of a race different than their own, then they will never truly feel comfortable around other races. If you don't feel comfortable around other races you will avoid spending time around them, further separating the groups.

I have a friend who is Puerto Rican. He makes fun of everybody, including Puerto Ricans. When he makes jokes about white people I am not offended. When I make jokes about Puerto Ricans he is not offended. Because I am so comfortable around him I have been exposed to his family and his culture in ways that have made my life richer. When I look at him or his family I do not see race and I cannot help but believe that this brings me one step closer to not seeing race in anyone. The fact that we both are free to make jokes about our ethnic backgrounds only serves to make the stereotypes more absurd. The truth is this: You can never truly be friends with someone unless you are free to make fun of them as if you are a member of their race. Otherwise, you wil always be holding back.... always on guard... always seperate.

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