Friday, April 13, 2007

Playing the "Victims"

I gotta throw in some social commentary that has nothing to do with a film or television show... so I apologize now.

Don Imus was fired yesterday for his negative comments about the Rutger's Womens basketball team (I don't know why he disliked them). Imus called the group "nappy headed hos!" And then he was fired.

Cara and I discussed this yesterday morning (when he had just lost his TV show) wondering how this situation became a racial question. I had never used the term "nappy" in a derogatory way towards African Americans and was surprised to hear that it was a racial slur.

Now I am not arguing that Imus' words are not negative or that he should not apologize for them - which he has done - what I am arguing is that he should not be persecuted to the extent to which he has.

Most of my concerns come from seeing Rev Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson stumble out of the background to grab some camera time to spout a little about racial discrimination. Both of these men should be ashamed of how they use their own race and racial dialogue to further deteriorate the relations between races. They champion a racial divide rather than unity!

Today on TODAY, Jason Whitlock, a columnist for the Kansas City Star, was on talking with Matt Lauer about the entire situation. His words rang true with my opinion. He spoke of the society of VICTIMS - and how Sharpton and Jackson are opportunist looking for some quick headlines.

I went to the Star and found an article he had recently written;

"Thank you, Don Imus. You’ve given us (black people) an excuse to avoid our real problem.

You’ve given Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson another opportunity to pretend that the old fight, which is now the safe and lucrative fight, is still the most important fight in our push for true economic and social equality.

You’ve given Vivian Stringer and Rutgers the chance to hold a nationally televised recruiting celebration expertly disguised as a news conference to respond to your poor attempt at humor.

Thank you, Don Imus. You extended Black History Month to April, and we can once again wallow in victimhood, protest like it’s 1965 and delude ourselves into believing that fixing your hatred is more necessary than eradicating our self-hatred.

The bigots win again."

Whitlock continues..

"Rather than confront this heinous enemy from within, we sit back and wait for someone like Imus to have a slip of the tongue and make the mistake of repeating the things we say about ourselves. It’s embarrassing. Dave Chappelle was offered $50 million to make racially insensitive jokes about black and white people on TV. He was hailed as a genius. Black comedians routinely crack jokes about white and black people, and we all laugh out loud."

Whitlock's argument is spot on and compelling - he points to the contradictions (Chapelle - the rap world) and also shows how this Imus situation is really a continuation of the failure to actually deal with racial and societal issues!

I hope you read it.

Anyway - we are off to the Kreitner's place this weekend - then we get to see Josh Radin in concert in Iowa City!!

Then... SOPRANOS!!!



Sheriff Officer Greg the Bunny said...

Here, here fine sir. It is always easier to crush the outside foe than it is to face "the man in the mirror". But, the man in the mirror usually causes most of the problems. So sad that we as a nation are still at this point.


ps: get ready to have a good time 2nite you two.

krysta jo said...

Very nicely said. I get so sick of all this - but I still don't like Imus. Anyway...

Another case in point. My friend works at an institution of higher education here in the Cities. Because the majority of the students there are African-American, all staff members have to regularly participate in diversity training. On tap for June's diversity training session is the opportunity for ALL staff members to meet at 10 p.m. one night and re-enact the Underground Railroad. This activity is supposed to help the staff better understand the plight of the African-American students. the worst idea I have heard of. If the staff wants to understand the plight, perhaps they should take a field trip through North Minneapolis and visit some of these students' homes and street corners.

Damfino said...

Sheriff - looking forward to getting there and kicking back a few!

KJ - first off - can't believe wonky eye is gone.

Second - I am unsure of my opinion to re-enacting the underground railroad. The activity might help one understand what slaves went through for freedom - it might open ones eyes to see how difficult the struggle was... but then again - how does this help them relate to their fellow man now?

p.s. I don't care about IMUS in any way.

Kern said...

Well put, Jed.

It's also interesting that when confronted by Meredith Veira on the Today show, Al Sharpton had a dodgy response in regard to the misogynistic lyrics of rap music. I don't remember the exact quotes, but I believe in part her question was pointing out that the insult was dual-sided. Does his outrage about women being insulted only apply when they are African-Americans? Why is he not conducting joint rallies with the NOW?

As contentious as this may sound, part of me believes that it is due to the fact that the rap industry is a lucrative one, an area where the African American community has carved out a great measure of success. If he or Jesse Jackson were to attack the foundations of that industry, it would likely be seen as them discouraging free enterprise within their community, and that would be bad for business.

And what a business it is! I think it's highly amusing that the world looks around and has the audacity to wonder why humankind are so guarded and sensitive about the differences among us. The simplistic answer that we would rather turn a blind eye to is that there has been a steady push in recent times to edge slowly away from the groundbreaking work of Civil Rights leaders in the 1950's and 60's towards integration, instead replacing that with a new blueprint of subtle self-imposed segregation. It is no secret that reconciling the cultural differences that divide people along socioecomic, religious, and ethnic backgrounds is a challenging and arduous task. Unfortunately, it is though we as a society have collectively shrugged our shoulders and thrown in the towel because it's too much work.

How can people get along when we spend all of our time splitting off into increasingly specialized factions until we're so categorically separated that we'll all be alone together?

krysta jo said...

I agree that the Underground Railroad exhibit may be a good one. However, making it mandatory and claiming that it'll help understand the plight of today's young black Americans is completely different.

Oh and did I mention that the staff members are being REQUIRED to participate - which means they will take the part of the slaves and run through a wooded field while dogs and people chase after them.

The fairy princess is PRETTY. The wonky eye is so last year.

Damfino said...

Kern - well said. You thoughts echo the article perfectly. It is maddening that Jackson and Sharpton pile on the accusations and demands when their own money making arena for talented black artists relates the same questionably negative attitudes that white Mr. Imus does - the all mighty dollar speaks loudly.

I might also add that I find it frustrating that news media as a whole tends to back away from this contradicting issue - granted, the Kansas City Star has addressed it (through Whitlock's work) but MSNBC and CBS have both decided to fire Imus instead of really looking at the situation and having a meaningful debate on how to improve this issue.

The money makers jump up and down and point and yell... they take one man and try to lay all of the "problems" and answers on his shoulders... Imus is fired... all is right in the world.

That is not working anymore... I feel ashamed that we let things like this go by... when Martin Luther King gave his life for this cause... and reprehesible scum like Jackson and Sharpton seemingly speak in his name...


KJ - pretty princess is pretty... though ol wonky sure had an impact.

To each his/her own.

krysta jo said...

Dan let me use the wonky eye as my mascot for fantasy football this year. The only problem he had was that he had named the team "Destruction Crew." It made an impact. Watch for her to return this fall.

Kern said...

As far as the Underground Railroad thing goes, it has some merits in theory. But I agree with KJ, it's not completely going to help understand what young black Americans are going through these days. I'm curious to know, are there going to be white abolitionists in this picture? If they want to be historically accurate, I think they would be awfully remiss if they left out the part where some whites who believed in human rights and equality also participated in the Underground Railroad.

I think some of this would mean far more if we as a nation had a better overall grasp of our history during those turbulent times. I think it's interesting that Al and Jesse can show up everytime there's a slur or an offense to make headline hay with, but how many of the young people within their own community are being taught about the Civil Rights movement? How many know stories about young Emmitt Till, or Medgar Evers or other black cultural touchstones that aren't made into big Hollywood films?

I took a Black Literature class at DMACC back in 1998 and was shocked that the class only had 9 people who stayed and all of them were white, and I was the only guy. Ultimately, it seems kind of unfair to hold the community at large responsible for grasping the cultural events that shaped an entire race's collective experience if those persons are also not educated about that background.

To put it another way, if this generation thinks that the way to accomplish an equitable understanding between cultures is to threaten and bully corporations until they get their way, then that this is going to be the way that race relations will be handled in this country for the next fifty to a hundred years.

Al and Jesse may quote Rev. King and his contemporaries, but in the end their self-aggrandizing behavior and quest for fame is a direct slap in the face to everything those brave men did.

Matty J said...

Hello all.
Making my first post to Jeds blog and of course it would be a political one.
I'm so sick of the real problem, the real racism being put to back of the bus. I'm so sick of the the real problem nto being fixed or at least looked at.
The inner city is in desperate need of funds, work and respect. You have none of these if you are an inner city black man or woman.
In a related news item, yesterday was the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's debut in Major League Baseball. Jeff Passan had a great article showing how baseball has made a false jesture of the whole thing. Here's a partial link:
Then drop down a bit and check out Passan's article.
Okay, I have coffee to make. enough rambling.
You got me in here finally, jed, ya bastard.

Damfino said...

Well I'll be... Matt Johson you old so and so.

The blog is complete... I shall go into the west and fade from existence....