“Nappy-Headed” Imus IX: The End (Hope Not)

He’s done. Eight days after uttering repugnant remarks about the Rutgers womens’ basketball team, Don Imus, one of the most successful radio hosts in syndication history, was off the air.

Imus was dropped today by CBS, ending (at least for now) a career than spanned more than three decades. “There has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society,” CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves said in announcing the decision. “That consideration has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision.”

In the last 24 hours, Moonves had met with a slew of people who had created and driven the efforts to oust the not-so-shocking jock – including National Association of Black Journalists President Bryan Monroe, who’s organization (of which I am a member) was the catalyst that sparked the campaign to fire the an who called the young women “nappy headed hos.”

Thus ended one of the most fascinating dramas in media history.

Now what?

This should not end here. If it does, it would have been a hollow triumph.

Yet if it comes to signal that America has reached its moral “tipping point” regarding the characterization of women and people of color in all media, then it would have been truly meaningful.

This I know: Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson have both long been critical of the lyrics and images in hip-hop culture that desensitized us to the kind of vulgar language that got Imus fired. But if they are not outside the headquarters of the music labels that create (and get phat off of) the music; and in front of the buildings that house Viacom/BET and other networks that play their videos over and over, then they deserve all of the criticism that will be levied their way by those who believe they simply used this moment to further their own cause.

Either way, folks, we’ve all got some work to do.



An erudite thought from the Huffington Post: Click here.


14 thoughts on ““Nappy-Headed” Imus IX: The End (Hope Not)

  1. Greg Weston says:

    This is indeed an opportunity to get a strong message to those that control and profit from the ever lowering standards of decency and self respect that we have allowed to florish. It is not limited to music videos and CDs – anyone I Love New York or Flava of Love recently? Unfortunately most of our kids view this as harmless but Jesse, Al and other Boomers cannot lead the effort. Its time for the Hip Hop generation to also say “enough”.

  2. Claude says:

    Yup. Its a fork in the road. A hip hop poet must decide which way to go. A consumer must decide. A label exec must decide.

  3. Derek Wright says:

    It’s a start. I’m just hoping that everyone doesn’t take this small victory and become complacent again. We have a long way to go and if we’re going to succeed, we have to now take a long look in the mirror at ourselves and correct the problems within.

  4. Daryl says:

    The Hip-Hop community has debased our community with impunity. Shame on us. Let’s keep this movement going. If we don’t, our generations will not survive. The time to act is now.

  5. Joeffrey says:

    I think this victory is very significant, but as we all know the reality is the pressure and the $$$. Unfortunately that’s what it’s going to take to make changes. Maybe there can be a very strong suggestion to those advertisers that pulled out from his show to advertise on some of our community stations. Along with that how about some contributions to some of the issues that affect women today; healthcare, childcare, and education.

  6. Vincent says:

    Bravo, Jesse and Al! Now ..I hope that you can shine your light of righteousness on every black rapper that uses the N-Word …On every Black Commediene who think “bitches and Ho’s” make good comedy …on Radio DJ’s such as Miss Jones in New York (Hot 97), who thought a racist parody about asians and the Tsunami was GREAT LAFFS… or even yourselves (Jesse ..remember “Hymies?” What about them false accusations, Al?) The fact is ..unless we clean our OWN HOUSE FIRST? We lose the moral authority to judge anybody else …sorta like this president and this war, right? hmmm …just thoughts. Sign me – Black man whose “glass house don’t throw no stones!”

  7. daxer585 says:

    I’m not sure that they should’ve fired Imus. Now he gets to just slink away or find a broadcaster that will tolerate his antics. In a way wouldn’t it have been better to leave him where he was but hold him accountable for his future actions?

  8. Dirk says:

    America is and will always be a “work in progress.” That’s because our Declaration of Independence and Constitution set a very high standard that we have sought, but so far never attained. But how fortunate we are that our founders so magically set that benchmark in stone. Their aspirations are still radical. With globalization, technology and a myriad of other increasingly complex societal challenges it is sometimes difficult to be sure if we have moved forward along this path, or fallen back.

    The so far outcome of the Imus travesty is encouraging news. It suggests somewhere in our cultural landscape a line has indeed been drawn.

    I have always found it curious that a black comedian in front of a black audience could ad nauseum sprinkle the “N” word along with other loaded terms throughout their routine, all much to the apparent delight and acceptance of their audience. That word and those terms may not have been the point of the jokes, but it is portrayed as an acceptable cultural “way of speaking.”

    Paradoxically, this way of speaking has found it’s way into the popular and white culture via the success of “Hip Hop” music. One used to listening to “Hip Hop” music may not even have been moved by Imus’ use of those terms to describe the Rutgers Womens Basketball Team. Many have become insensitized to these words.

    What I think was so shocking about Imus use of these words is actually not so much the words themselves (they are of course disgusting), but how completely illogical the use by him of those words fit into the context of his program anyway. To me it wasn’t so much a structure “joke”, but as if in the backroom that would just be how any black woman would be characterized by him and his associates. That that is just the normal descriptor for any black woman of any character.

    When I replayed the sound bite of that event, it really wasn’t to me that he was trying to make a joke, but that he just wanted his audience to know what “kind” of woman he was talking about and worse that his audience would get it.

    Good that major media management said NO to that, sad that apparently off the air, it will probably go on, but at least the white community that sponsors that kind of talk has lost one voice.

    It would be my hope that the black community would also get the message that this way of speaking by now should also be obsolete. It was funny for me, as the only white player on an otherwise all black basketball team during my teen years to learn how the “N” word was casually used to trash talk teammates during practice. Before long I too got with the program and became comfortable with using a word that had been absolutely taboo in our household. I was not taught by crackers, but taught by my black team mates. I wonder if they used that word at home in front of their parents, probably not, as I recall they came from pretty straight families. As young kids sometimes use swearwords to impress themselves, maybe it was a way to show to themselves that they were growing up and could use forbidden words.

    Imus has some growing up to do. I think that he may get the message and I hope he becomes a better man for it. But we all can do some learning from this public display of repulsion at the casual use by a white man of hateful and degrading words. It is kids stuff and not o.k. for adults and leaders and esp. those who have the privilege of a mass media voice in our society.

    How about if all of us adults agree that we have had enough of this kind of talk? You cannot stop the young from finding appeal in shocking songs or other media, it seems to be a part of growing up, mostly in time they will get tired of it and get on with their adult lives. Why don’t we just all do our best and what we can to leave these words and their hateful legacy behind, only for the history books.

    And by the way, I am not one who thinks that the Rutgers Womens Basketball Team needs to meet with Imus. He doesn’t deserve their good use of time.

  9. jd says:

    Props for mentioning the owners of the “art” produced by rap artists, also for identifying a way to distinguish between community interest and self-interest by these so called leaders.

  10. leah says:

    Finally, someone who is speaking the truth!!!! Thank you!!! I think all these “leaders” in the black community just wanted a little on air time. If they really gave a SH*T, they would be breathing down the neck of every gangster rapper and tv station that aired their videos for using language far worse than Imus ever dreamed of in regard to black women. Shame on all of them….what a bunch of hypocrites! I sure didn’t see any of them protesting Janet when she flashed her silicone implant to an audience of six million children either….talk about bringing black women down…….

  11. gzino says:

    Roy – you said it perfectly – the Imus firing is the end of an episode but there is a long way to go in the journey – and the entertainment industry as a whole is a huge canyon in front of the next step of that journey . It would be somewhat ironic if the Imus episode does help get this country to a tipping point – an episode that concluded almost exactly 60 years after Jackie Robinson started baseball on its journey.

  12. The Revival, Pt. 1

    First, my deepest condolences and prayers for the families and loved ones touched by the Virginia Tech slaying. My prayers especially extend to seeing something good come from the outpouring of national attention to something so bad. We will never

  13. with it says:

    if imus had been black would all of this had happened, would it have seemed nearly as bad?

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