April 13, 2007

A Giant Step Forward for Women and Race

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. I mean, I spent most of this week positively twisting and turning in my bed at night, unable to sleep. Every time I came close to even remotely dozing off, I heard the words “nappy headed hos” clang in my brain like klaxons.

As I’ve often noted here in the past, I have a responsibility as a marginally humorous ThunderJournalist to have an opinion on everything that makes the news cycle, and if there’s one thing that dominated the news cycle this week, it was Don Imus and his infamous slur against the Rutgers women’s basketball team. As I’m sure most of you were, I was astounded, because seriously. . . who the heck is Don Imus?

Well, it turns out, according to my research, Don Imus is a “Shock Jock,” a term used to denote a radio personality who uses crass jokes and statements intended to push the boundaries of good taste and discourse in the hopes of building a solid listening base. This came as a bit of a surprise to me because, ever since high school football, the term “Shock Jock,” was used to denote an athletic supporter that had been smeared with ICY HOT.

BELATED SIDENOTE TO MY FORMER FOOTBALL TEAMMATES: Ha, ha! Not funny, guys! You know who you are.

Anyway, Don Imus, a “Shock Jock,” who apparently peaked in influence sometime during the Nixon administration, decided to make one last gasp for radio fame by calling the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy headed hos,” setting off a firestorm of criticism decrying Imus’s statement as both racially derogative and a slur against women in general.

It was at this point in the drama where I found myself unable to sleep at night because, honestly, Imus’s critics were correct. Surely, the term “nappy headed hos” was going to set back race and gender progress for at least the next decade, if not longer. How could Don Imus have been so thoughtless, so inflammatory? How will women, and black women in particular, be able to recover from this ill-conceived verbal insult to their gender and race?

Perhaps ironically, it was radio itself that put me back at ease, and by the end of the week, I was finally able to fall back asleep. I believe it was the musical group, the “Black Eyed Peas,” who first started me back on the path to nocturnal slumber. I was on my way to work when I heard it, that tribute to gender equality and non-objectification of women: “My Humps.” It was so liberating, so empowering, I found myself singing along:

“What you gon' do with all that junk? All that junk inside that trunk? I'ma get, get, get, get, you drunk, get you love drunk off my hump. What you gon' do with all that *ss? All that *ss inside them jeans? I'm a make, make, make, make you scream Make you scream, make you scream.”

What more powerful antidote to Don Imus’s hateful screed can you ask for? This is a bra-burning, equality-empowering musical powerhouse, and since it hit #3 on the Billboard hot 100 awhile back, I’m sure it found the ears of millions of impressionable young women.

Not to be outdone, I then heard the heartfelt ballad by Akon (with Snoop Dogg) entitled “I wanna love you,” and again I found myself rapping along:

“Money in the air as mo’ fell. Grab you by your coattail, take you to the motel, ho sale. Don’t tell, wont tell, baby say ‘I don’t talk, Dogg unless you told on me’ - oh well. Take a picture wit me, what the flick gon’ do, baby stick to me and I’ma stick on you. If you pick me then I’ma pick on you, d-o-double G and I’m here to put this d*** on you.”

It practically brings a tear to the eye, doesn’t it? Not since Shakespeare penned “Romeo and Juliet” has such a romance been envisioned. And this song held the #1 spot on the Billboard hot 100 for two whole wonderful weeks!

So, to Don Imus, I say “Good bye, you hateful bigot. You and your race/gender stifling rhetoric are not welcome in the public discourse any longer. Don’t forget your hat on the way out the door, Sir!”

And to the Black Eyed Peas and Akon, I say, “Keep spreading the Gospel, dear minstrels. You’re a credit to your craft, and a shining beacon for female and race progress now and into the future!”

Posted by Ryan at April 13, 2007 10:08 AM | TrackBack


The ony comment that I have is that there's a component to the Imus event that is similar to the Janet-malfunction. Clearly, as you pointed out, musicians have had a blank check for gender objectification. Imus hasn't said anything that he couldn't learn from black music.

The difference is one of context. When somebody purchases a Black Eyed Peas album, they have an understading about the content. Same as when somebody picks up a skin-flic or even Maxim for that matter.

When somebody turns on MSNBC they have an expectation of what the content will be. It wasn't necessarily Janet's breast, which is quite lovely I might add, it Janet's breast during primetime, while you are on the couch with your kids. Imus' comments were inline with his schtick, sure. After the white-guilt parade, the network has little choice but to axe the show.

And, his comments weren't even funny. But I am not familar with his material. Maybe he's generally not amusing. Dunno.

Posted by: seed at April 13, 2007 12:25 PM

When somebody purchases a Black Eyed Peas album, they have an understading about the content.

I chose the Black Eyed Peas specifically because "My Humps" gets played on general broadcast radio ALL THE TIME around here. It's not a choice, necessarily, when it comes to listening to it: turn on the radio, and damned if they're not playing, AGAIN.

Posted by: Ryan at April 13, 2007 12:54 PM

Wait, you left out the lyrics to "goldigger". Kayne West. Same guy who was bitching about how New Orleans would have gotten help alot faster if there weren't so many blacks? Puhleeze. If it's not okay for me to say, then it shouldn't be ok for you either. Likewise, if it is ok for me to say then you should be able to say it too.

Posted by: Donna at April 13, 2007 01:00 PM

Amen, Donna.

Posted by: Ryan at April 13, 2007 01:39 PM

It is kind of the same as when a parent calls his kid stupid, but the parent gets angry when the teacher says the kid stupid.

Posted by: amelia at April 16, 2007 11:31 AM
StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!