This is fascinating. What began as a simple, caustic and repugnant remark by a wrinkled radio host has evolved into one of the most intriguing experiences of my career. This isn’t about Don Imus anymore. It isn’t even about the noble young women who put remarkable faces on the ugly words Imus uttered.
Right now, it’s about how we got here and where we go now to ensure – as much as humanly possible – that we never go here again. It’s being referred to as a “tipping point,” a time when our collective consciousness simply said, Enough. No longer would the language of hate be tolerated. No longer will the words we’ve become densitized to be tolerated.
Not from Imus.
Not from anyone.
“Imus in the Morning” is a wrap. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not in two weeks. But the show is toast – later if not sooner. Long before that happens, though, the calls will be made to those who helped lay the groundwork for the ugly language that got us here – among them, the music industry.
And one of the first calls I make is to Debra Lee, CEO of BET.
Why? Because for decades now the network has been ground zero for the language and terms that had become so pervasive a wrinkled white man thought it was okay it use them on national radio and television. In the wake of recent revelations, how can the network – along with its new siblings, MTV and VH-1 -still justify airing videos that glorify “bitches” and “hos?”
BET Founder Bob Johnson, in an interview on MSNBC, offered the same lame response he offered a decade ago in the midst of criticism about the network’s content. He said he’d long ago gone to the music labels and said BET would air cleaner, less offensive videos if they’d produce them.
In the same breath Johnson said Imus should be fired, he said he was not accountable for the content in the videos that ran on BET.
That may have flown for many years. But it ain’t flying any more.
If BET is reading the winds of change, Lee will announce soon that the network will not longer glorify misogyny and refused to air music videos and programming that degrade black women.
As I said, this is fascinating.
This is what I mean: A Philadelphia radio DJ as fired today for being stupid. Last week, this might have been considered funny.
Ghettonation author Cora Daniels: “I’m a Nappy Headed Ho.”