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Social Commentary: Don Imus

I've been holding back my thoughts on the Don Imus story most of the week. I do however believe I have a take that I have not heard much in the MSM or blog world. It's a take (I believe) that is balanced and objective. I do not share Don Imus' views on mostly anything but as you will read I believe he's being unfairly pigeon-holed in this case and I wish to add my voice to the national conversation. I must also warn you that this may be my longest post ever. Read at your own risk...

My take is this:
I grew up in Baltimore, most of my friends were black. The associate Pastor of my church is a black man. I dated cross-culturally and I continue to have friends in the black community as well as members of the church I pastor who are black. Our lead worship artist is black. When I got to LU I ran with a mixed group of friends and again I hung out with a lot of black friends. I even rapped (yes I'm white) with a Latino and some other black guys... guys I call friends. I grew up on welfare, I was a minority in most of the schools I attended... I could go on and on... point is... I'm coming at this from a prospective and an understanding of the culture that is as much entrenched as I could get apart from genetics.

First I completely agree that his comments were uncalled for and inappropriate for him to use on a radio station where he knows his audience is over 10 million listeners and mostly white. In my estimation he shouldn't have called out Rutgers at all... What he was doing (as he and nearly all societal commentators do) was giving his impressions (as a 67 year old white man who has been around for a long time) in sort of a compare/contrast mode. Remember... they were talking about two teams who are BOTH mostly African American.

He pointed out the differences between the two. His words were uncalled for and offensive and likely reside in a deep recess of his mind. This man is in his late-60's... MLK died in 1968 when Imus was 28... I'm certain there is some left-over bigotry in there instilled from his childhood but I don't see him as being anti-black... His professional career doesn't point in that direction and frankly I believe he's being thrown under the bus for a dumb and insensitive comment.

Look at the man...His politics lean very left and his guests range the spectrum... he openly supported Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN) for his failed Senate bid this time around OVER A WHITE GUY... he's not racist... Is he insensitive... old-school... non PC... loose with the tongue... yes... but racist? No.

What I see in this case is that Imus should have taken the opportunity to sincerely and fully apologize (as he appears to have been doing)... but then get off of his heels and speak to the social commentary he inadequately referenced during that conversation.

He tried to do this to a degree on Sharpton's show... but it was evident that Sharpton smelled blood.

If you saw the interview on YouTube.. Sharpton had like 40 people from the press... and a Huge picture of himself - with his arms spread open - against the wall from where the live camera was shot on Imus... He cut Imus off repeatedly and tried to intimidate him left and right... I think Imus should have been more articulate with the fact that he's coming from a perspective of the real world where people make assumptions and judgments about you based on how you present yourself... he was wrong to use the terms he used but if anything his comments weren't directed towards an entire race... they were directed toward what he described as a tattooed and angry group of women who didn't present themselves as the Tennessee players did. Rightly or wrongly, Imus saw the Tennessee team as a more professional looking group of young women. They have personalities like Candice Parker who light up a room with their smile and charm on TV interviews... Tennessee has a ton in their favor with regard to 'image' as they have a widely successful and loved head coach... a powerhouse team in the women's spotlight and more national exposure than nearly any team in the women's game... Rutgers doesn't... therefore their image was judged based on this game by this old man.... it doesn't mean he is a racist who needs to be banned.

Whether he is right or wrong in that commentary has less to do with the issue at hand than does the question of whether what he said was primarily racial. The argument that is raging right now is whether Imus is a racist who needs to be fired forever or did he say something about a group of 15 women that was uncalled for and over the line. Was he racist or was he stupid? My vote is for stupid. I do believe he should be punished... and he is... but the longer this goes on the more ridiculous it becomes. Imus has had a long history of caring for the black community and he has many friends in that community who know his heart. He was stupid but who hasn't been?

After taking time to sincerely address the situation and reach out to the Rutgers team and families (since it was a comment made about them and not a race of people...) What I believe Imus should have done was go right back at his critics (mainly Sharpton and Jackson) about their own personal public failings... I personally am over this pious attitude they display whenever someone else screws up... Sharpton became famous because he accused men of raping a young black woman... The evidence showed this was completely fabricated and unfounded... Sharpton never apologized for dragging these men through the mud... Jackson has a child out of wedlock whose mother he was paying off secretly for years out of his Rainbow Push coalition coffers... NEITHER of these men have Pastored a single sole... yet they both use the title "Reverend" everywhere they go.... AND CHURCHES LET THEM IN THE PULPIT to spit their self promotion and marketing.

At the end of the day Don Imus was wrong, ignorant and stupid but he has been sincere in his repentance and shown embarrassment by his own insensitivity. At the end of the day society is giving a pass to the people trying to destroy him and I believe society is not thinking about what actually was said and the context in which it was said... people have jumped onto a racist bandwagon without looking at the driver or at Don Imus' past leading up to this.

Sharpton Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tawana_Brawley
Jackson Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karin_Stanford

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Tuesday, April 10, 2007


At 12:37 PM, Blogger INTELBLKMN said...

There is a difference between racism and stupidity.

At 8:22 PM, Anonymous Geoff said...

Excellent post, Tally. The sad thing to me is that I don't see how any of the uproar over Imus, who has turned saying outrageous things into a career, has done anything to make a difference in racism in America. Its because of reaction like this that we CAN'T talk about racism, we have to talk around it.


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