It’s open season on Black sensibilities. People think
they can just say anything to, or about, Black people. Certainly,
its a function of hearing Black people say anything about themselves.
It’s like the ole’ saying back in the day, when you were in junior
high school, and somebody called your younger brother or sister
out of their name. You checked ‘em by saying, “Can’t nobody call
my sista’ a “so and so”…but me”. Well, as Black people have now
learned, other people are prepared to call you whatever you call
yourself. You call yourself “A Nigga,” others will call you one.
You call your women, *itches and hoes, they’ll call your women,
*itches and hoes. It was just a matter of time before someone
got the nerve to do it.
Enter Don Imus. I know Michael Richards is saying,
“Thank you, Don Imus,” for taking the wrath of the Black community
off me. The Black community, however, is now saying, F*#k you,
Don Imus. Who the hell you calling “Nappy Headed Hoes?”
Imus’ comments, directed at the Rutgers Women’s Basketball
team, touched off a national firestorm, and for good reason. This
isn’t just a racial remark, or even a racial slur against a Black.
It was a racial assault on Black women. All Black women. In fact,
all women. Hell, we know on any given day, any woman’s hair (before
beauty shop day) could be deemed “nappy". But white women
are rarely referred to as “hoes” (slut is their word). Rutgers
Women’s b-ball team is mostly Black. I guess the two white members
of the team should be offended too. But so far, the National Organization
of Women (NOW), the nation’s leading feminist voice that never
met a bandwagon it couldn’t catch, has yet to latch on to this
issue. Maybe its mindset has changed, or do they agree with Imus?
Imus’ comments weren’t couched in twisted political
commentary. It was just part of the “social” talk that has become
increasing mean and racist — a mindset that may be returning because
whites think they have this subverted “colorblind” so under control
that they can “slip” every now and then. Well, they’re slippin’
a little too much lately, if you ask me. First, Michael Richards’
“Nigger" tirade, then Shirley Q. Liquor bringing Blackface
back, and now nappy headed hoes??? Imus’ apologized and called
his comments “thoughtless and stupid". Naw, you really have
to give it some thought to call somebody a nappy headed ho. You
have to have some “big balls” to assault a woman and her hair.
I can’t think of a woman I would say that to, and if I were to
draw a picture of a “nappy headed ho", it would probably
look more like Don Imus than any woman I know (have you seen Imus’
It just shows how cavalier people have become in
expressing racial views. But it also shows where folk are, in
tracking Black culture — particularly in how we refer to ourselves.
All the Nigger-*itch-Ho “gutter rap” of the 1990s is finally catching
up with Black America in the 2000s. It’s interesting that what
we tolerate within the race, we reject between the races. We just
can’t be that inconsistent. White folk, Italians, Jews, Asians
and Latinos are not going to call themselves something negative
and tolerate it. And they, damn sure, ain’t going to let anybody
else call them something that they know assaults their cultural
sensibilities. Black people ain’t there yet.
There isn’t any doubt in my mind that America has
become so comfortable with talk radio and “shock radio” that social
responsibility in media has taken a complete butt-whuppin’. Make
no doubt about it, they're sayin’ some crazy sh*t out there on
the radio. Everybody’s trying to be Howard Stern. Nobody’s trying
to be Rush Limbaugh, but a conservative edge hangs on his every
ideologically-tinged word. More times then not, “shock jocks”
don’t have a problem tip-toeing over the “colorline". The
jabs are frequent, and the target is most often people of color
and poor people (some of them, one and the same). Many times,
couched in the ole “liberal-conservative” diatribe, it is usually
aimed at holding the political line on whatever policy or politic
comes out of the administration and it usually has some dual meaning
that allows racial inference to be denied.
When Rush Limbaugh thought he was going to bring
his twisted verbiage to sports commentary, accusing the Philadelphia
Eagles of running some kind of social program by sticking with
Black quarterback, Donovan McNabb (who he called “overrated”),
that was his last day on ESPN’s Sunday Night Football. Limbaugh
resigned before he could be fired. Imus should resign, or be fired,
too. There was no reason for Imus to “go there". If a racist
wants to make a case for Richards, you could say, at least, that
he was provoked. Imus wasn’t provoked. He piled on to an ignorantly
racist conversation. Instead of checking the conversation, Imus
egged it on, like one of the “good ole’ boys.”
Yeah, uh huh…he slipped alright, right back into
a mode, a mindset, that we’re familiar with in America’s history.
But the moment there is no outcry, we’ll be right back to where
we were in 1940s and 1840s. If we let ‘em take us back to Antebellum
culture, they would.
African Americans today just shake their heads, wondering
what’s going to come next, especially when someone who looks like
what I imagine a nappy headed hoe to look like, starts calling
Black women nappy headed hoes as side conversation in his radio
show. He’s mean and ignorant, but he’s also just repeating what
he’s heard Black music call Black woman. Why be upset at one and
not the other? That’s our dilemma. Just know, if white people
continue to call Black people out of their name, it is rooted
in the historical race politic, and it is most likely a reflection
of what others perceive African Americans to be or what African
Americans hypocritically allow some in the race to call themselves,
by names that we don’t appreciate, nor like, when others do it.
And since Don Imus wants to play “the dozens” with
Black people, I have one last comment for him….Yo momma!!
Anthony Asadullah Samad is a national columnist,
managing director of the Urban Issues Forum (www.urbanissuesforum.com)
and author of the upcoming book, Saving The Race: Empowerment
Through Wisdom. He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com.
here to contact Mr. Samad.