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Imus' comments hit close to home

For the record, I've appeared on the Imus Show as a reporter here at NBC News. I have relatives who graduated from Rutgers University. And, before it started disappearing, I had short, and rather tightly curled, hair -- so all of this is hitting very close to home.

I've heard Imus apologize, a few times. He sounds sincere. I understand he wants to meet the Rutgers team. He'll be on Al Sharpton's radio show.

But I still can't forget those words: "nappy headed hos," and then more banter about "jigaboos and wannabes." Where did that come from? How could Imus -- and don't forget his producer -- feel comfortable enough to think that's funny? How could they not anticipate a firestorm? When people speak that way publicly, it makes you wonder what's said, and felt, in private?

If you say the words out loud rather than just listening to them or reading them, each carries even more power. And they strike at the heart of the negative images that so many people have fought so many battles to rid our culture and society of. When I hear those words, I think of people I know -- the insults they endured, and more importantly, the injustices along the way. We're reminded that some of America's most horrible history -- history we hope to leave in our past -- happened during our lifetimes. We're reminded of parents and grandparents who combed and brushed our tightly curled hair.

Clearly, an apology hasn't made all of this go away. Something more has to happen, and is happening. I think some of the media companies trying to keep their distance now realize they remain tainted. I believe many here where I work will do the right thing. It is being taken extremely seriously. One dilemma is that many of the country's most influential decision makers seek out Imus, appear regularly on his show, relish the platform he provides in morning drive time. So far, many of those  powerful voices remain silent.

So what do you do when a significant, powerful institution and corporate interest crashes into what many see as profound issues of morality and decency? What's reasonable, fair and just? Honestly, I don't know the answer. I'm encouraged by the fact that people in positions of power are listening to what a lot of folks out there have to say. Perhaps Imus and his producer should take a break while all this works itself out.

Some people have pointed out he's hurled slurs at everyone during the years. He's a "shock jock," and everyone knows he's edgy. Personally, I don't think being an "equal opportunity " insulter makes this OK.

Ultimately, this is more important than one radio talk-show host. It's important because the "mainstream media" has a tremendous influence on how we see each other, how we think of ourselves, how we determine what's acceptable and what's not. Organizations such as the National Association of Black Journalists and other advocates for diversity have long argued that if America's newsrooms looked like America -- if the faces we see on the air, behind the scenes, and in the management suites -- looked, thought and had sensitivities and experiences more like everyone, the culture inside these institutions would be much different.

And so would what's considered to be a joke.

Think of how you'd explain this to a young little girl, with tightly curled hair, when she asks, "why did he call people who look like me that?"

Something more has to happen. Not just with one individual, but also with the environment that produces all of this. Something that people in power can look back on a few years from now and tell that little girl that we tried very hard to do the right thing.

Read more from Ron Allen


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I am going to make this very simple. I am not mad at Imus' comments as a black person. I am mad that people are letting the misogynistic part go. Do you realize that he called these young ladies whores. But that's okay. Rappers do it. So what? They shouldn't do it, nor should Imus.

I think Imus should be fired. Some people have been fired from their jobs for less.
Ok so he's a shock jock, but these women are 18yrs old. They're doing the right thing going to college to get an education, they're not political or professional sports players. That's the problem with this world today, people spouting off hateful remarks about others and running to rehab and apologizing til the next time that comes around. Yea, it's a free country, but it's time to treat people they way you would want you and yours treated.

You know what, the comments were derogatory. The fact that
1. you don't think much of Sharpton or Jesse Jackson and/or
2. think that other persons should be condemned for equally derogatory comments (which they should be)

doesn't let Imus off the hook or make what he said any less racist or offensive.
If Imus or anybody else wants to exercise their freedom of speech by making racist comments, fine. But I certainly don't want to hear them complain when they are called to account for their actions.

Mr. Allen, If you want to know what to tell your young girl with tightly curled hair when she asks why people are looking at her like that, tell her the truth. Tell her it’s because all anyone sees from the black community anymore are thugs. How can you ignore Rappers and their entourage, street gangs on every other corner in every major city in America, professional athletes who look, act and roll like street gangs, and yes both male and female amateur athletes from respected major universities who look and act and talk like common street thugs. Have you ever watched the NBA, listened to a Rap song, watched a movie, watched a TV show like Def comedy Jam or read a news paper? Your problem is NOT that a white radio host put all of those bad influences into words. Your problem is that those bad images are coming from the black community. Your problem in NOT that a white radio show pointed out that a woman’s basketball team looked rough like a common street gang. Your problem is that numerous respected major universities have basketball teams that actually look, act and talk like common street thugs.
People within the black community like Bill Cosby and John Ridley among others have spoken out against this thug culture bombardment to only be ridiculed and have their work boycotted by the black community. The best I can put it is if you look like a thug, act like a thug and speak like a thug then you should expect to be treated like a thug. The fact that being treated like thugs spills over to people who don’t deserve it is one of the consequences of the popular thug culture that Bill and John are attempting to fight.
John Ridley puts it like this: (Quote) In the forty years since the Deal was brokered, since the Voting Rights Act was signed, there have been successes for blacks. But there are still too many blacks in prison, too many kids aggrandizing the thug life, and way too many African-Americans doing far too little with the opportunities others earned for them.

If we as a race could win the centuries-long war against institutionalized racism, why is it that so many of us cannot secure the advantage after decades of freedom?

That which retards us is the worst of "us," those who disdain actual ascendancy gained by way of intellectual expansion and physical toil—who instead value the posture of an "urban," a "street," a "real" existence, no matter that such a culture threatens to render them extinct.

April 10, 2007 10:10a.m.
I agree with some of the comments made by Jacqueline Stokes, Dallas, Texas (Sent Apr 10, 2007 8:41:44 AM)... en-route to my job this morning I was privy to listening to the comments made by this man and also his history of racial comments, relived by Rev. Jesse Jackson. I'd never heard of Don Imus prior to this incident, but was shocked (he is a shock jock) by some of his previous comments, and can't for the life of me understand why they're tolerated! But, I also think we are forgetting one important fact, Don Imus was lead into his remark by his producer "McQuirk" he too, should be suspended.
This affected me emotionally without me even realizing it... I actually shed tears when discussing the incident with a co-worker. We think we've come so far, yet, its obvious racism will never stop! I agree that if the comments don't stop at our level, which, in a way gives "other races" what the feel is the “okay” to make these type of comments ~ it will indeed NEVER STOP!
Firing??????? No, that would be just like preaching to the choir! Why? What good would it do? He'll just find another job as a "shock jock" somewhere else, take his following with him and have equal success! I don’t have all the answers for individuals who feel it necessary to belittle a race (any race) but, am sure it has a lot to do with their own insecurities. I do know that any punishment dealing with “hitting someone in their pocket” HURTS… he should pay restitution to the young women of Rutgers and the campus organization – if he is really and truly racist, nothing more will frustrate him other than funding a group of people he hates!
I’ve been employed at the same job for 17 years and in those 17 years; I’ve been subjected to comments made by superiors, co-workers and co-worker’s loved ones on six different occasions using the “N-word”. Why? I think it’s because they become complacent, relaxed in our presence, and because you’re in a professional position don’t consider you “one of them”, you know, “a ni_ _a”. It’s very important to address each matter diplomatically/immediately and let it be known you are uncomfortable with them using this type of verbiage in your presence. There’s no excuse for ignorance.
I have friends in all races and my kids, too. I personally don’t agree with racism, but, I do agree with the freedom of speech – without it, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Don Imus should live his life as I do, I want nice things said in my eulogy and that’s how I want to remembered. Live life as though you are under 24 hour surveillance and your every words is recorded, I bet, you’d do things a little different then, wouldn’t you? Well, if you believe in a higher being, GOD, that’s exactly what’s happening!
Because, when you’re gone, your character is the only thing people are going to remember about you – nothing else!
Threasa J. Brown – Arlington, TX

On a recent trip to New York city, I was absolutely shocked by the casual racist banter of on-air personalities against African-Americans… and I’m a white guy from rural, northern Michigan.

After viewing the Imus clip, I don‘t see a person who misspoke. I see a man smiling and knowingly contributing to the demeaning of African-Americans and women. This is unacceptable.

As an indirect result of Imus’s idiocy, real stories, like the banning of a female school board member from Marion Public Schools in Michigan go unreported.

Thanks Don.

Inappropriate comments or remarks will continue to be with us as long as the human race exists. While I don't listen to Mr. Imus or Howard Stern programs, they are known as "shock jocks" and naturally say words that sometimes are deemed to be inappropriate. Some people don't lower themselves to that level and others take exception. Education in better communication skills is the key. Every human people has made a disparaging comment or remark at one time in the life and will continue to do it as long as the human race is in existence. Suspension is a start. No need to take away the man's job. The remark/comment was inappropriate, but the words have been around a long time. They are used more today than in my day. People were more considerate in my day than today also. If I had a penny for everytime I heard a disparaging or inappropriate comment or remark, I'd be a trillionairess. It's like everyone has a mouth (use this word rather than the a_ _h_ _ _ _ word), everyone has one.

I am a 52 year old black woman and when I heard what was said about the basketball team.. This really hurt me deeply because I felt as though he might as well have said that to me directly..I was raised by my parents to treat people.. with respect and hopefully get the same back in return..There are a lot of goodness in people of every race.. But some races have had a harder struggle than others..I feel sorry for him because he has to explaine his actions to GOD in the end..I do believe he knew exactly what he was saying and quit honestly he did not care at the time..I myself would not say bad things about people if I did not honestly feel that way..and when you have a job such as his.. regadless of freedom of speech.. some things out of respect to others should not be said..these young ladies are college students , Basketball players..What people in the media do not realize is what they say have more of an impact on the way our society look at things then a group of people who are talking amongs one another.. Some things will never change .. there will always be a struggle somewhere in our life time for all of us..But the struggle is even harder when.. you are labele that without given a fair chance..I can only imagine what the parents where feeling when they found out what he had said.. We all love our children..You have to first love yourself before you can appreciate and love others .. since he did say those things.. there should have been an immediate apology .. but that did not happen..this is just like a person going thru something painful to them ,but others are saying get over it.. they do not know or will never know...

There have been a lot of comments here about rap/hip-hop music and why is there no outrage over that. As a black male, I can tell everyone here who is not aware that this has been a long standing debate within the black community for years. Everyone who is black knows this. You are sadly mistaken and ignorant to assume that discussion/debate within the black community over the N-word, sexist rap lyrics, etc. doesn't exist.

As far as Imus is concerned, what he said was very insensitive. However, It is up to NBC to determine how this should be handled. What offends me more however is how so many people are willing to come to his defense and make excuses for this kind of language. Nothing will ever change in this country as long as you continue to make light of situations like this.

I watch Imus, in totality, every morning. It is the highlight of my day...besides Chris Matthews of Hardball. Imus is cutting edge entertainment - light years ahead of its time. The music, the regulars and impersonaters are hysterical! Imus! acerbic tone, his satirical and sarcastic comments are most well as his sincere concern for humanity. If you fire this gem of a man and show, I will do all I can to form a cohesive, groundswell in support of Imus as well as a direct assault on CBS and NBC for being such cowards. Imus is a good man and as a woman who is a bit younger than his is so refreshing to listen to his take on life, politics, music, sports, his brother and relationship to his colleagues. He is special = DON'T MESS WITH HIM. I MEAN IT. YOU WILL BE SORRY.

Imus can say whatever he wants in his own home or out on the street. When he speaks on a radio or a TV show he is being paid by the radio or TV company, and they in turn are being paid by the sponsors. They are all responsible for his unbelievablwe remarks. I might add that all of the guests who go willingly on his show are also, implicitly, endorsing his remarks. They all owe the many many targets of his rants and "jokes" an apology. Imus should be fired. If he isn't, the sponsors who enable this kind of talk should withdraw their support. Future guests should evaluate just how badly they want publicity. For many years Imus's radio show has enabled listeners to hear, and laugh at, jokes they would never hear or tell in "real life." It's time it stopped.

I feel it is everyone's personal choice to watch or not watch, go on his show or not go on his show, if you don't like his comments, don't listen, everyone is eventually going to get their feelings hurt by someone saying something you may or may not like, but people are HUMAN, and unfortunately, they say things that they regret everyday, if everyone who made a mistake were banned from their jobs, everyone in this world would be unemployed, so give it a rest and let the man take his 2 weeks and get over it.

I can't believe how people are over reacting to the Imus comments. Imus apologized; that should be enough. Rappers and hip hoppers say much worse. The people out for Imus' career should be looking back at their own words.

As a caucasian woman, I am offended by Mr Imus's comment also. As an athletic woman, I have often heard insinuations that athletic women are some how strange, (cross gender, or prostitutes). I will continue to watch your program as long as you apologise instantly for these types of off color comments so people don't think that what you said was OK.

I have never heard Don Imus' program so I find it interesting to read the comments in his defense based upon the nature of his daily remarks. While I have a basic belief in freedom of speech, I feel his comments on the Rutgers team represent something far more ominous. It is one thing to skewer politicians and public figures. They knowingly place themselves in the public eye and invite comment as a part of their professional role. It is quite different to make such degrading comments about a group of young women who have earned prominence through their athletic achievement. What is especially disturbing to me is the nature of his insults. They speak to the constant backdrop of racism in this nation that we will never dismantle until people are taken to task for such incidents. It is NOT acceptable to refer to any young black woman as a "ho." It is NOT acceptable to assume moral degradation on the part of any individual based upon skin color or tattoos. What had these young women done to invite such personally degrading remarks? What would people think if a commentator called a white basketball team a bunch of sluts?
MSNBC has a rare opportunity to make a huge impact in tearing down the facade of harmony in the United States. A real discussion of racism and its subtle manifestatins is long overdue. Don Imus should be fired simply because such a blatant smear of innocent, accomplished young women should not be tolerated by any corporation. And he could perhaps spend some time in community service coming to grips with the underlying gestalt that allows him to assume any woman with black skin and tattoos moving a ball down a court is more of a prostitute than he is.

Can you say "POLICE STATE".
I normally wouldn't listen to the Imus Show but I will support his program now! As for Mr Jackson and Mr. Sharpton they need to stop preaching "I'm black your white" and start preaching American PRIDE if they want to yell. What is wrong with you men! Enough already! You two should be ashambed for continuing on with this game.

I've been following Imus from the start. what has happened to *FREEDOM OF SPEECH* in our country! It applies to everyone of us. You do not have to agree with whatmyou consider DUMD and stupip stuff, but we are a free society and this is censorship no matter what words you use to label it!

i forgive imus, and yet it offends me more so many can not see the glaring wrong in his words; thus calling for some stringent punishment. some want to justify it by what other say in comparison. i have heard many of those who came to his(imus) aid. through it all, their words speak great volume to the fact they didn't know him(imus) as well as they thought they did. or did they?
until it is seen that this type of blatant offensiveness will not be tolerated(zero tolerant) it will continue to surface from it's festering lair.
sad, some things never change, they simply relocate...

Why isn't an apology enough? This comment is not the sum of the man. Now the Rev. and others want to call him a Racist, he is not. He made a comment that may have appeared so. His good for children black & white outways any comments however hurtful they may have been.
Comments like this can be heard in all races. How many black people have said anything negative about their own race (using the N word), a white person, an asian or any other race? Do not use this one comment to try to end racism or use him as an example; it will not happen.
I belive forgiveness is in order and the Rev. is not practicing what he should be preaching; he enjoys the spot light.

I am not a big Imus fan, i used to watch him faithfully but now its occasionally, but i want to support him, What he said wasnt very nice but ive heard worse from others,i feel that msnbc should support him also,he made a mistake! we all make mistakes but shouldnt have to pay for them for the rest of our lives,Sharpton and Jackson made mistakes and everyone forgave them, being a white woman i always thought highly of Jesse Jackson he always seemed to be the one to forgive, but now i see hes fallen in with Al Sharpton so he loses my respect,Let Imus do his 2 weeks and get on with it America.......

Why the outrage? NEWS FLASH!!! There has always been the outrage. There has never been any repercussions. it is inappropriate for anyone to say any "insensitive or racist" remark. For all of you who are not African cannot comment. You do not have our history and your ancestors have not endured the challenges that we have. And you did not inherit those same challenges. Slavery comes in different forms - physical, mental, emotional and financial. It has to stop. You wonder why our children feel that there are no boundaries and that they can say anything or do anything they want without repercussions? You who listen to this candor and think it is funny and then want to tell your teen daughter or son to obey authority or not to bully another child. If it we directed at your child, you would lose it? Well, you are not the parents of the Rutgers' women basketball team players or can identify with them as African Americans. You see, it is offensive if the person who is offended tells you that they are offended. That's the difference between this joke and the others. The persons he joked about don't find it funny. I didn't listen to his radio show but when I went back and listen to prior clips, I found it all offensive. Howard Stern is a SHOCK JOCK, yet he could not be on MSNBC. I don't see any difference except instead of using SEX, he uses racism and cultural bias to attract people to make money. He has a foundation to help kids. So what? IF that's the case, then a drug dealer can sell drugs just to help the community he is in do better or help someone go to college. That happens all the time. The end justifies the means??? As a military veteran, I question why did I serve? So, that other African American women could be referred to as "whores"?? I don't care what race you are. We have become a nation of "I can do and say what I want and so what?" Then be ready to receive retaliation from others who can also say and do what they want. I will be encouraging all of the advertisers to drop his show or BOYCOTT it will be. The apology came with too much. When you are truly sorry for your actions, you don't talk about yourself, foundation or what the show is about or what's in or out of context. You simply focus on the person that is hurt and plead for their mercy. I find the fact tat any time someone messes up with the African American community, they go straight to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. They are not the whole African American community. He could have went to any High School or HBCU and had a forum to educate himself. Instead, he is just getting free advertisement for his show. He stated that he is a "cracker". For those who don't know..this term comes from white slave owners who had those that disciplined the slaves with the "crack of a whip"..henceforth, the slaves called him a cracker. Not as an offensive term toward caucasians, but to identify him as one who cracks the whip over our people. Education goes a long way. For those African Americans who listen to this candor nd thinks it is okay, don't get upset the next time you or your child is referred to as a "nappy headed whore or jiggaboo or wannabe." For every cause there is an effect. For those of you that state the comment was not from the heart..."Out of the mouth comes the secrets of the heart."

I would hope we could have a daily dialogue rather than this hyperbole and 'outrage' only when an incident happens. There is no doubt that every white person is racist despite denials to the contrary, it is what we learn, racism is what we grow up with, & racism is in our national character. We cannot punish by firing Imus, a man who fights his racism, and end this national disgrace. We can hope that this incident will be the start of a real dialogue which I know Imus can help with. It is in his heart and he can accept this responsibility.

Don Imus contributes very little to the American culture, but contributes generously to the image of the "ugly American" with his daily campaign of debasement.

Fire the bastard! Long overdue.

I'm a 60 yr old white female and I am appalled by what I hear all through our airwaves. Demeaning remarks made at the expense of others is NOT humor- and should not be tolerated in any form. We have heard the limits of tolerance on what is acceptable being pushed farther and farther over the last 30 years. In my opinion Imus has already had his 3 strikes- but I also think the disgusting trash-mouth rap music that started this should not be played on the airwaves, nor should Southpark. We may have gone too far for this to be fixed. That this form of "entertainment" has an audience pretty much ages and isolates me.

Iam a black man and I think it is a shame that no matter what we do as a race of people its always wrong. If we stand on the corner its wrong. If we have no job we are lazy and its wrong.But what really burns me up is here are people in college, getting an education, and playing a sport learning the true meaning of sportsman ship and its still wrong. When will we be taken seriously, we are not jokes.Imas must go.

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