Thanks, Don Imus! Might not have done it without you
The Glover Report (TGR), Vol. VIII, No. 6
Thanks, Don Imus! Might Not Have Done It Without You
By Doni Glover, www.BMORENEWS.com
(BALTIMORE – April 16, 2007) – A wide range of sentiments have been expressed amidst the heat, smoke and fumes from the fallout from shock jock Don Imus’ comments about Rutgers’ outstanding Women’s Basketball team being “nappy headed ho’s.”
A most poignant aspect to this larger conversation on racism and sexism to me has been those who have used this incident to demean Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson, two former US Presidential candidates, suggesting that they use black issues to line their pockets. The only question I have for them is this: What have you done for black America? In my clearest opinion, both men have stepped up to the plate, pushed the envelope, and helped make black America relevant. Hands down!
In any event, W. E. B. DuBois wrote in his 1903 collection of essays entitled “The Souls of Black Folk” that the problem of the 20th century would be the race problem. Now at the dawning of the 21st century, ‘the color line’ is still a problem in America and insists on raising its ugly head – seemingly whenever it wants.
However, supporters of true universal freedom should not fret, but celebrate. And Don Imus’ is the focus of the toast. ‘Thanks, Don! Might not have done it without you!’
Thanks for what? Well, for galvanizing African Americans, women and others like never before, of course. As The Baltimore Sun noted in its front-page story on 4.14.2007, among those galvanized by Imus’ remarks were Kenneth Chenault, the CEO of American Express, who happens to be black.
Hey, while this wasn’t Imus’ first offense, it was but another in a long line of comments made by fellow Americans who lack respect for others. Freedom of speech, a right for all here in this good, ol’ US of A, ought never come before respect for others – as Johns Hopkins University (JHU) President William R. Brody has recently suggested in a letter to the university. In an increasingly diverse America, how can the Don Imus’s of the world possibly fathom that dinosaurs still rule, that such chicanery could still be acceptable?
Brody’s school was in the news last fall for a “Halloween in the Hood” party that featured a figurine with a noose around its neck – along with a heap of racist comments – and subsequent protests by the Baltimore Chapter of the NAACP and other like-minded organizations. At the center of the controversy was JHU Sigma Chi fraternity’s Justin Park, a young man who clearly has ignored history.
As Brody noted in The Carrollton Record, “I think a lot of our students are very bright, but they are ignorant.”
And so, couple such a racist prank by the JHU Sigma Chi student, along with the blunder by Imus – and add to that the situation this country currently faces in Iraq (something former Senator Bill Bradly recently told HBO show host Bill Maher is the worst US foreign policy decision ever) – and what we have is a big, strong infant of a country – a.k.a. The Bull in the China Shop named the United States of America – that has still not learned the basics of playing together well with others.
Too much of this babe of a nation still lives with the notions of the founding fathers who touted freedom for all but supported slavery and institutional racism at every level, all the way to the basements on the main campus of the University of Virginia campus where slaves once lived.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote: “The richer we’ve become materially, the poorer we’ve become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the seas like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.”
Indeed, we have not learned the lessons of racial harmony and collective progress. Clearly, we are stuck on stupid. We celebrate King once a year – like Thanksgiving – like Christmas – like Easter – instead of practicing it every day of the year. Further, this country has the gaul to even ponder the query of a moral right?
Barry White comes to mind: “Practice what you preach!”
Truly, Dr. King’s was a universal message – one that perpetually challenges the good in all of us, always encouraging of a deeper, more unconditional, more-supreme love.
We have the biggest toys of any nation, including a $13 trillion gross domestic product (the largest national economy in the world, according to wikipedia.org) and what Maher noted as a $625 billion annual defense budget that can’t seem to get IED-proof strikers to the troops, but yet we are agitating everybody from black women to Latino immigrants to Muslims in the Middle East with our Star Wars-X Box-X out-Saddam-and-every-other-dictator-we-don’t-like-because-we-said-so mentality.
How juvenile is that?
And news outlets like Fox only add to the bucket of waste in a most “fair and balanced” way. Great job, Fox!
I mean for a recent Fox guest to defend Imus on this right-winger network, foolishly proclaiming that censorship of the shock jock is bad for business – well, words cannot express my disbelief that in the 21st century, too many archaic, out-of-touch-with-reality older white males are still brainwashed by the past, confused with the present, and sadly at the helm – too unwilling to share – as we face tomorrow. That selfish quest for individuality in our geographically ‘isolated’ nation is quite possibly America’s greatest challenge as a nation, particularly when the world itself is increasingly intertwined through technology thus making it so much smaller.
And maybe that is what is so beautiful about the recent departure of Imus: Justice! A justice much more fulfilling and so much more holistic than the sentiments that swept black America when O.J. Simpson was found ‘not guilty’; a justice that reaches back to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello; a justice that spans the devastation of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the Civil Rights Movement and dogs and fire hoses and lynchings and even Montgomery.
Montgomery, down in Alabama, is an excellent segue from the past to the present, for it was there (among other places, like Rosewood in Florida and Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma) that African Americans began to leverage the power of the dollar.
In a recent documentary on Montgomery’s bus boycotts, some stated that many black people still today refrain from catching the bus there. For the uninitiated, the December 1, 1955 arrest of Rosa Parks in this southern city set off a 381-day bus boycott by blacks in Montgomery, an effort that led to the 1956 Supreme Court decision to ban segregation in public transportation. This was viewed as a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement. Why? Because it showed – in an ever significant way – the power of the black dollar.
Today, as was the case in 1956 when blacks banned together, gave each other rides in carpools, or just walked – blacks or African Americans or whatever the most acceptable term du jour is for those descendants mostly of African slaves – have reached a new high. We have once again demonstrated our financial prowess – even if it was because of Don Imus. The faith community, the business community, and the political community effectively and successfully blended together like poetry in motion, like Beethoven’s 5th Symphony – however extemporaneous the fashion – to eloquently combat the evil head of racism once again. And win!
It is a crystal critical reminder even of a recent, more local victory in Maryland back on March 12th in Annapolis, the state’s capital. There, during the 423rd session of the Maryland Legislative Caucus, a very special meeting and subsequent reception was held in the Miller Senate Building. There, over one hundred African Americans convened. No, it was not the Pan African Congress. It was the New Strategic Alliance, a combination of black business, political, and faith leaders.
The goal of this new statewide effort is to facilitate access to capital and markets for black businesses, according to Meridian Management Group’s Stanley Tucker. Tucker served as moderator for the meeting which updated attendees on, among other items, a new law in Maryland called Commercial Non-Discrimination. First implemented in Baltimore City thanks to the guise and leadership of Councilwoman Helen Holton, this new statewide law states that any business entity doing business with the state cannot be found to be discriminatory in their practices. If so, simply put, they won’t be doing business with the state anymore. Small, you could say, but it is the beginning. Those involved, including Franklin Lee, Esquire, the national expert on the topic, insist that more is to come (as it relates to black economic progress via this new statewide law).
Here’s the hit: As Maryland business icon Raymond V. Haysbert told me a few years back, the Civil Rights Era has now transformed into the Era for Economic Rights.
The fight for freedom is now focused on economic parity.
And, Imus’ removal is clear evidence that corporate America gets it. Say what you want, the dollars speak for themselves. To offend blacks, to offend women – and to think that there will not be economic fallout is merely a ludicrous notion of the past rooted in the arrogance and ignorance of a shrinking yet significant segment of the American population.
Of America’s 300 million people, half are women. About 20% are of African descent. Question: Can corporate America really afford to support disrespect of its clientele? Does freedom of speech mean that one has the right to add to the racial hostilities well noted by DuBois and countless others, including David Walker, over a century ago?
Even more, it begs an answer to this question: When is the big, spoiled brat called the US of A going to grow up and realize that charity begins at home? How can we, as a nation, for instance, even ponder the thought of shoving democracy down the throats of people half way around the world when we cannot even get it right stateside?
Until we begin to right the wrongs of the past, America remains the suffering addict in denial, ever refusing to acknowledge its past, ever willing to spew its arrogant ignorance (arr-ignorance) to the rest of the world. As America sheds the diapers of infancy, may it also begin to take on a more intelligent view of itself and the world. On this note, Maryland and North Carolina have joined Virginia in apologizing – as a state – for their role in supporting American slavery.
One last thing: This healing of America is needed and must take place if we are to ever see a brighter day for this world – from the White House to Johns Hopkins University to the streets of Baltimore, Oakland, DC, Brooklyn and beyond. It must be the responsibility of everyone – from politicians to rappers to the people of God – to correct the things that prevent our total development as human beings. With the mindset of victors, not victims, must the true people of a caring and sharing God take its rightful place in the world community – in the right and mature spirit – as real leaders. Further, this can only be done through action, through progressive work together. Otherwise, the Imus’s of the world have not truly been meted their deserved prize. Even more, the lessons of the past have not been applied to the present for the benefit of our collective future as a nation, as a world, as a universe – even down to minority business enterprise efforts in Maryland.