Hoodwinked: Focus Shifts off Imus onto Hip Hop
By Eddie Griffin
Saturday, April 14, 2007
One minute we were talking about Imus and his sins, and the next minute we are talking about hip hop culture, rap artists, and Al Sharpton. How did we get switched on the subject? How did our heads get so turned around? How did we wind up in a national debate over race relations in America?
Out of the mouth of one man, we all get drawn into a futile war of words. It would seem a simple case of an overconfident talk show host chocking on his own words and forced to make an apology. Then there is the victim side of the story, the Rutgers basketball girls, whom Imus referenced as “nappy-headed ‘hoe” on national radio. They accepted the apology. Case closed, right?
Bob Ray Sanders of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes:
Imus, with the utterance of one phrase during a live radio broadcast and television simulcast, has refocused our attention on the four-letter word more abhorrent in today's society than the one that starts with the letter F… For the moment -- and it will be a fleeting moment only -- Imus has redirected our attention to the r-word.
Come on, boys and girls, can you say "RACE"?
Oh, I know it's difficult because you've tried so hard to avoid it, but let's talk about it once more.
For the record, race is not a card -- to be shuffled or dealt or played
African-Americans should beware: Step on the tail of a snake and he will turn against you. In this case, the snake is racism.
Is it not bad enough to be hurt once by an insensitive remark by a radio jock after an especially heartbreaking loss for the national championship in women’s basketball? But it is another thing to be hurt over again by the racist. So why are these young ladies receiving hate mail? What wrong did they commit? Is this Birmingham 1963?
People are rationalizing Imus insidious racial remarks by- guess what- pointing out the perceived sins and shortcomings of black people themselves. They say that blacks use the same language among themselves everyday, so what’s the difference? Is Imus being held to a double standard?
When bad is bad, there is no double standard. But do not confuse bad apples with bad oranges, as the mass media is trying to do. Now, they claim that it is hip-hop’s fault for putting the derogatory words out there for a racist to use. It is not the racist’s fault, but hip-hop’s fault. White men would not call a black woman a “nappy-headed ‘hoe” unless they first heard it from black rap artists.
Racism has always been camouflaged by rationalizations. The first rationale for engaging in slave trade was to “benefit” the African native”, civilize and Christianize him. Then the rationale became the African kings “sold their own people” (not to mention, European traders plowed the king with sugar cane rum). Then there was the rationalization for perpetuating slavery. The slave did not know what to do without a master. He would starve because he could not support himself. And, when all blacks desired freedom, there was always one in the bunch who said he was happy where he was.
They rationalized the murder of civil rights workers by blaming the cause of lynching and violence on that “troublemaker” Martin Luther King (otherwise, Martin Luther Coon). These killings were not the fault of the murders, but the anger and hatred stirred up by King. As for the caase of 14-year old Emmitt Till, it was “his own fault” that he got mutilated and lynched. Had he not whistled at a white woman, the Klan would not have killed him.
Somehow it always turns out to be the victim’s fault.
I guess it was the fault of the black stripper who entertained the Duke Lacrosse players. There she was, naked at a fraternity party, crawling around on the floor, pictures being taken, what else did she expected- somebody to believe her story that she was raped?
I am not hoodwinked by ABC anchorman Charles Gibson purposely associating Imus’ foul remark with hip-hop culture. Blame the black people and exonerate the white perpetrator.
It happened on Wednesday (04/11/07). Gibson reported Imus troubles after the flap, but afterward suggested that hip-hop rap artist use the same language. He ended the segment by asking: “Is Imus being held to a double standard?” (A question that has been asked again and again, as if there is some equal opportunity to insult)
The very next night on ABC EVENING NEWS (04/12/07), Gibson reports Imus MSNBC two-week suspension. Then Gibson actually ends the segment by playing a rap musical video by Snoop Dogg where the term “’hoe” was used, as if justifying why Imus used the slang.
Finally, after reporting the firing of Imus (04/13/07), Gibson puts on a black female (a sociologist, I assume) who then declared a need to get to “the main problem”- rap artist using derogatory words to characterize women- not Imus.
I am all for cleaning up the language used on the public airways. But the “main problem” is racism. Dirty language is just the side issue, one that African-Americans have been dealing with for years. I remember in the early 1950s when whites proclaimed black rock and roll music as “devil music”. The white kids who secretly enjoyed this music now openly relish in it as the Oldies-But-Goodies era. I remember rock and roll was not accepted as crossover music until whites crowned their own king, Elvis Presley, who stole Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog” that propelled him to stardom. Then when asked why he was singing Negro music, Elvis responded by saying that all that Negro black people could do for him was shine his shoes and buy his records.
Charles Gibson and ABC will never see the racism in blaming the victim for the crime. They will continue to insist that Imus’s sin is no worse than that of hip-hoppers, although leaders of the Hip Hop Summit have issued a formal statement of repudiation.