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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’ hair?).

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 ( and author of the upcoming book, Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom. He can be reached at Click here to contact Mr. Samad.



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April 12, 2007
Issue 225

is published every Thursday.

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