By Shaun Powell of Newsday (an African-American journalist, to those who care about such details)
In retrospect, outraged people shouldn't have united and screamed "blank you" to Don Imus the last few days. No, instead, we should've stuck out our hand and said, "Thank you."
We should feel indebted to a shriveled, unfunny, insensitive frog for being so ignorant that he actually did us all a favor. He woke society the hell up. He grabbed it by the throat, shook hard and ordered us to take a long, critical look at ourselves and the mess we've made and ignored for much too long. He made us examine the culture and the characters we've created for ourselves, our impressionable young people and our future.
Had Imus not called a bunch of proud and innocent young women "nappy-headed hos," would we be as ashamed of what we see as we are today?
Or, to quote Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer: "Have we really lost our moral fiber?"
And our minds as well?
I'm not sure if the last few days will serve as a watershed moment for this MTV, middle-finger, screw-you generation. Probably not, according to my hunch. A short time from now, the hysteria will turn to vapor, folks will settle back into their routines, somebody will pump up the volume on the latest poison produced by hip-hop while Al Sharpton and the other racial ambulance chasers will find other guilt-ridden white folks to shake for fame and cash. In five minutes, the entire episode of Imus and his strange idea of humor will be older than his hairstyle. Lessons learned will be lessons forgotten.
I wish I were wrong about that last part. But I doubt it, because any minute now, black people will resume calling themselves bitches and hos and the N-word and in the ultimate sign of hypocrisy, neither Rutgers nor anyone else will call a news conference about that.
Because when we really get to the root of the problem, this isn't about Imus. This is about a culture we -- meaning black folks -- created and condoned and packaged for white power brokers to sell and shock jocks like Imus to exploit. Can we talk?
Tell me: Where did an old white guy like Imus learn the word "ho"?
Was that always part of his vocabulary? Or did he borrow it from Jay-Z and Dave Chappelle and Snoop Dogg?
What really disappointed me about that exhausting Rutgers news conference, which was slyly used as a recruiting pitch by Stringer, was the absence of the truth and the lack of backbone and courage. Black women had the perfect opportunity to lash out at their most dangerous oppressors -- black men -- and yet they kept the focus on a white guy.
It was a tremendous letdown for me, personally and professionally. I wanted Stringer, and especially her players, many of whom listen to rap and hip-hop, to take Nelly to task. Or BET. Or MTV. Or the gangsta culture that is suffocating our kids. They had the ear and eye of the nation trained upon them, and yet these women didn't get to the point and the root of the matter. They danced around it, and I guess I should've known better, because black people still refuse to lash out against those black people who are doing harm to us all.
Honestly, I wasn't holding my breath for Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, a pair of phony and self-appointed leaders, because they have their agendas and financial stakes. I was hoping 10 young women, who have nothing on the line, who are members of a young culture, would train their attention to within the race, name names and say enough is enough. But they didn't, and I was crushed.
You should walk around the playground and the elementary and high schools today and listen to how young black people speak to each other, treat each other and tease each other. You'd be ashamed. Next, sample some of their CDs and look at the video games they're playing. And while you're at it, blame yourself for funding this garbage, for allowing your kids to support these companies and for not taking a stand against it or the so-called artists making it happen.
Black folks, for whatever reason, can be their own worst enemy. The last several days, the media had us believe it was Don Imus. But deep down, we know better.
Bravo! Imus made a big mistake. However, it has been abundantly clear that people such as Sharpton and Jackson have endeared themselves to this issue to further their own personal agendas. Will people really change as a result of whatever comes of this series of events? Sadly, probably not. Where has this outrage been for the countless more egregious examples of bigotry and racism in our current culture?