12 April 2007

Hail to the "Nappy Headed Hos"

(photo: Embattled Curmudgeon Don Imus in the days before the bitches and hos got up in his grill)

I don’t listen to talk radio because it makes me carsick. It doesn’t matter if I’m in my car or in my kitchen, if talk radio is on, I am instantly stricken with feelings of motion sickness. This is likely brought on by a Proustian memory from childhood when my parents would smoke in the car with the windows rolled up while WBZ crackled on the AM radio.

Still, I’ve been closely following the Don Imus story -- mostly because he is this week’s diapered astronaut and I can’t look away. I listened to the transcript of his “nappy-headed hos” comments and their context. His egghead producer Bernard McGuirk egged him on, calling the women on the Rutgers team “hos” first, before Imus added the offensive frizzy adjective.

To me, they sounded like two old, out-of-touch white guys who just discovered Urban Dictionary. It was a lame exchange and it backfired like parents calling their kids “dawgs” in an effort to communicate with them via street talk. They should not only be penalized for sounding like racists but also for sounding like complete idiots.

But he apologized several times, spent three hours on Al Sharpton’s radio show --which is punishment in and of itself -- and is meeting with the Rutgers basketball team. As he should. His radio show has been suspended for two weeks, MSNBC has dropped its simulcast of his show and numerous advertisers have pulled their sponsorships.

And, of course, wherever there is indignation, there is Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

Last night, Keith Olbermann held their feet to the fire a little bit, something I’m surprised more media outlets or activists aren’t doing:

If they're protesting Imus for racial comments, why aren’t they going after Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Neal Boortz and their ilk who have built entire careers – quite unapologetically – on hatemongering, pandering to half wits who find racial stereotypes, misogyny, and gay bashing absolutely hilarious.

Is it because our expectations of these knuckle-dragging talk show hosts are so low that we simply accept this vitriol from them, sort of the same way you expect gorillas to hurl their own feces when they get excited?

Imus used the term “nappy headed hos” – that's pretty offensive, but is it any more offensive than these incidents:

- Last year, conservative talk show host Neal Boortz said Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney looked like a “ghetto slut,” and that her hair “looks like an explosion in a Brillo pad factory. It’s just hideous. No it’s not an Afro...it just shows contempt for the position that she holds. She looks like Tina Turner peeing on an electric fence.”

- Rush Limbaugh, drug-addicted conservative gasbag, has repeatedly referred to Halle Berry and Barack Obama as “Halfrican-Americans.”

- Barely-educated conservative blowhard Glenn Beck (also a former drug addict) called the victims of Hurricane Katrina “scumbags," implying poor + black = scumbag.

- Not even going to go there with skanky Ann Coulter as we've dealt with her before.

Where is the outrage here? The advertising exodus? If someone cannot control themselves or maintain the slightest level of decorum, they shouldn’t be on the public airwaves. I’ve always subscribed to the “don’t like it, don’t listen” philosophy but if they’re trying to set a new standard with Imus, then it should be applied to these hateful morons too.


Anonymous said...

Nappy Headed Hoes- Don Imus

So I rolled out scoped me an ounce sold out but I fucked up when I started livin up in this hoes house
Nigga started fuckin one of the broads cause she was suckin a nigga dick so good keepin it hard
Lettin a nigga cum all over her chest and tongue She was still-un, I spared her because her chil-drun
-Cash Money Millionaires Lyrics

I think we need to prioritize and not use this as a liberal agenda.

KJ said...

TOTALLY different issues. We're talking about the public airwaves here that are being used to spew hatred.

I definitely agree with you that lyrics like those are equally as racist and derogatory but please don't distract from the issue I'm talking about here.

Radio talk show hosts have a public platform; they interview politicians and authors and people who influence policy and public opinion.

Rap music is an entirely different animal.

Besides, those lyrics get bleeped out on the air, Rush Limbaugh's hateful tirades do not.

Maybe they should bleep him too then allow you to download the uncut explicit versions on iTunes for 99 cents.

Mike said...

I'm fairly certain the 2008 political candidates won't stopping by Cash Money Millionaire's crib to weigh in on the issues of the day. Maybe the Three 6 Mafia though since they won an Oscar and all.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me but where is the racist comment is "napopy headed hoes"? White people have nappy hair. White poeple are hose, hispanics have nappy hair, hispanics are hoes.
It was a stupid comment by an irrelevant radio host. what is more offensive is how the Rutgers girl are being taken advantage of. Any they are allowing people to take advantage of them. Are these ladies really harmed for life? ca-mon!!! Now Oprah has invited them on her show. She better spend 55 minutes of that show talking about them as people and students. I bet she doesn't. They are bright intelligent women. They should just brush this off for what it is. A STUPID COMMENT.
How many times has Tom Menino been called names? Names taht are a lot worse than "nappy headed hoes" Is he scared for life? Wait, don't answer that.

People need to lighten up!

KJ said...

Wow. I don’t even know how to respond to this. Rutgers Girls getting taken advantage of? How so? I think they’re capitalizing on their unwanted publicity by opening a dialogue. Harmed for life? Who said that? In fact, I think this experience will make them stronger. And have you forgotten that the whole reason they’re even in the news is because of the “stupid comment?” They didn't ask for this platform, it was given to them.

Also, who are you to tell them how they should react ("Just brush it off") Why? Because YOU think it’s a stupid comment. Are you kidding? Unless you’re a female black athlete at Rutgers – and something tells me you’re not -- you have no right to tell them how they should feel. They made it clear how they felt at the press conference yesterday and those feelings should be respected.

That said, I agree this whole thing has been blown way out of proportion. I don't even think Imus should have been fired. My point was if he was fired, than others should be too b/c they've said far worse things.

And WTF does Tom Menino have to do with this? How is he even a factor in this argument? He is not an oppressed white man and “Mumbles” certainly isn’t a racial slur.

I’ve come to the conclusion you must be very young. Please take a valium and come back when you get some pubes.

Anonymous said...

"It kind of scars us. We grew up in a world where racism exists, and there's nothing we can do to change that," said Matee Ajavon, a junior guard. "I think that this has scarred me for life."

I bring up Menino as an example. he doesn't make excuses or get upset. He and everyone on this planet is made fun of or called a name at some point in their life. Suck it up and give it right back or shut up.
We are growing a nation of people who are afraid to open their mouths and say something because someone might be "offended" or "scarred for life".

I guarantee you that Rutgers will get soemthing out of this. and by something, I mean monetary. That is a disgrace, because that is what that press conference is all about.

I leave you with a quote from Jason Whitlock from the Kansas City Star.
"Martin Luther King Jr. spoke for eight minutes in 1963 at the March on Washington. At the time, black people could be lynched and denied fundamental rights with little thought. With the comments of a talk-show host most of her players had never heard of before last week serving as her excuse, Vivian Stringer rambled on for 30 minutes about the amazing season her team had.

Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that the comments of a man with virtually no connection to the sports world ruined Rutgers’ wonderful season. Had a broadcaster with credibility and a platform in the sports world uttered the words Imus did, I could understand a level of outrage.

But an hourlong press conference over a man who has already apologized, already been suspended and is already insignificant is just plain intellectually dishonest. This is opportunism. This is a distraction."

Now excuse me, I think I have a pube pupping out. Oh wait, someone might be offended by the word "pube"? Sorry.

KJ said...

LOL. Ok, pubey. I get your point about people being afraid to offend people. That's certainly true. However, I still think we're talking about two different things here. It's ok to criticize people but there is still a right and wrong way to do it. Calling someone something like a "ghetto slut" or a "nappy headed ho" is not the way to do it --ESPECIALLY if you've been given the privilege of a public platform to espouse your views. People in that position have a responsibility to the public good to conduct themselves in a dignified manner. I agree Imus made a "stupid comment" and has paid dearly for it. Bottom line: He should have known better.

And if MLK had given that speech today in a world with 24 hour cable news, you bet your pubies he'd have spoken a lot longer. It's the nature of the beast and to be honest, that press conference yesterday was a welcome departure from bickering pundits (I have no life. I have the news on in the background all day long. I admit it).

Anonymous said...

KJ said ---"I get your point about people being afraid to offend people. That's certainly true. However, I still think we're talking about two different things here. It's ok to criticize people but there is still a right and wrong way to do it. Calling someone something like a "ghetto slut" or a "nappy headed ho" is not the way to do it --ESPECIALLY if you've been given the privilege of a public platform to espouse your views."
And that is exactly why he should be allow to say it. We may not like it but he has a right to say anything he wants. Just like we have the right to not listen to him. Without these rights, we are not a free country. -pubey

KJ said...

Well, I guess that's the big question right there, isn't it. As I said in my post, I don't even listen to talk radio as it makes me carsick. However, I haven't been able (or been willing) to escape this story for a week. I agree it will be up to the people to decide whether or not they tune in to this garbage. I believe the public airwaves shouldn't be used to spread hate, period. That is not freedom of speech, it's an arrogant exploitation of it.

Good link on this topic that sort of makes both points:

Alex said...

can you yell "fire" in a crowded movie theatre yet when there is no fire? That's the one I've been waiting on for while...

KJ said...

Exactly, Alex. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

"Fire" is a per se event. There is a singular connotation. It is considered a "tool of public order". Satire requires a constant attack on sacred cows.
That said, Imus is witless and his stuff, derivative.

KJ said...

True. But "yelling fire in a crowded theatre" still speaks to the larger point that just because you "can" say something and say it loudly, doesn't necessarily mean that you "should." And if you do, you have to be prepared to accept accountability. I guess this all moot by now.


jal said...

KJ - maybe pubey needs an education in why Nappy is offensive.

Why 'nappy' is offensive
By Zine Magubane | April 12, 2007

WHEN DON IMUS called the Rutgers University basketball team a bunch of "nappy-headed ho ' s" he brought to the fore the degree to which black women's hair has served as a visible marker of our political and social marginalization.

Nappy, a historically derogatory term used to describe hair that is short and tightly coiled, is a preeminent example of how social and cultural ideas are transmitted through bodies. Since African women first arrived on American shores, the bends and twists of our hair have became markers of our subhuman status and convenient rationales for denying us our rightful claims to citizenship.

Establishing the upper and lower limits of humanity was of particular interest to Enlightenment era thinkers, who struggled to balance the ideals of the French Revolution and the Declaration of Independence with the fact of slavery. The 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen did not discriminate on the basis of race or sex and had the potential to be applied universally. It was precisely because an appeal to natural rights could only be countered by proof of natural inequality that hair texture, one of the most obvious indicators of physical differences between the races, was seized upon. Nappy hair was demonstrable proof of the fact that neither human physiology nor human nature was uniform and, therefore, that social inequalities could be justified.

Saartjie Baartman, a South African "bushwoman," was exhibited like a circus freak in the Shows of London between 1810 and 1815. The leading French anatomist of the day, George Cuvier, speculated that Baartman might be the "missing link" between the human and animal worlds because of her "peculiar features" including her "enormous buttocks" and "short, curling hair."

In "Notes on the State of Virginia," Thomas Jefferson reflected on why it would be impossible to incorporate blacks into the body politic after emancipation. He concluded it was because of the differences "both physical and moral," chief among them the absence of long, flowing hair.

For a runaway slave, the kink in her hair could mean the difference between freedom in the North and enslavement or worse if she were to be caught and returned to her master. Miscegenation meant that some slaves had skin as light as whites and the rule of thumb was that hair was a more reliable indicator than skin of a person's racial heritage. Thus, runaway slaves often shaved their heads in order to get rid of any evidence of their ancestry and posters advertising for fugitive slaves often warned slave catchers to be on the lookout for runaways with shaved heads : "They might pass for white."

In the late 1960s, after the FBI declared Angela Davis one of the country's 10 most wanted criminals, thousands of other law-abiding, Afro-wearing African-American women became targets of state repression -- accosted, harassed, and arrested by police, the FBI, and immigration agents. The "wanted" posters that featured Davis, her huge Afro framing her face like a halo, appeared in post offices and government buildings all over America, not to mention on television and in Life magazine. Her "nappy hair" served not only to structure popular opinions about her as a dangerous criminal, but also made it possible to deny the rights of due process and habeas corpus to any young black woman, simply on the basis of her hairstyle.

For African-American women, the personal has always been political. What grows out of our head can mean the difference between being a citizen and being a subject; being enslaved or free; alive or dead. As Don Imus found out this week, 300 years of a tangled and painful racial history cannot be washed away with a simple apology.

Zine Magubane is an associate professor of sociology and African diaspora studies at Boston College.

jal said...

It's still about the larger issue.

KJ said...

Thanks, JAL. I saw that on Boston.com a little while ago and thought about posting it as well.

BTW-How about some al fresco cocktails after work next week? I heard the temps are supposed to be above 50 after our Patriot's Day Nor'easter (WTF!!!)

sb said...

KJ - kudos to you for appropriately utilizing an infamous quote hung above the register at Dorr's Liquor Mart. One of my favorite lines of all time.

KJ said...

BG-One of my favorites too. Dedicated to all former Brighton residents.

Mike said...

Your anonymous friend's comments are almost a word-for-word regurgitation of a WEEI segment from yesterday morning.

KJ said...

Doesn't surprise me. James mentioned that to me last night when he tried to read me that same Jason Whitlock article. I wondered why everyone was quoting the Kansas City Star all of a sudden. Total chain regurgitation.

Anonymous said...

Would you characterize hatemongering as gross generalizations about an ethnic or culture group, with the intention of hindering their progress or vitality? Fair definition?

KJ said...

No, I find comfort in "gross generalizations."

Anonymous said...

Would Janeane Garofalo's comment: "White men have destroyed America" fall into those comments of concern? It seems a pretty venomous missive. Or, are white men not to be extended "protected victim status"?
I don't think gross generalizations give you comfort, but maybe a cause d'etre.
" You became famous by protesting." -Kerouac to a 60's radical.

KJ said...

Where in history has the white man suffered oppression of any kind? You can't compare the two.

Not to mention, Janeane Garofalo is a comedian, not a talk radio host conducting interviews with presidential candidates and other influential people.

Do you think I'm famous? I'm not really the KJ from Charlie's Angels -- you know that, right?

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll play along...the Armenian genocide wasn't too much fun. But I'm sure the endeavor brought financial comfort to the wealthy wives of Turks. ("We are all the benefactors of a bloody sire.")
That's one...take a look at "The Power and The Glory" by Graham Greene.
I'm sure the 30K+ families of white casualties in Vietnam felt oppressed under a large, multi-cultural machine. Take a look at workplace casualties in America(predominantly, white males)- the sort of projects that make your commute to the Cape or your evening out for Tapas run that much smoother.

Janeane Garofalo IS a talk show host...and not much of a comedian. She interviewed Howard Dean and Al Gore.

To be honest, I'm a little disappointed to hear that you're not the real KJ. The best cameos on the Love Boat (she and Robert Urich, a widower and single father) and Fantasy Island.

KJ said...

Garofalo is a t.s. host? Seriously? I had no idea. (again talk radio=carsick). Where and since when?
I'm not a fan of hers either. So, she thinks white men are ruining the world? I don't agree with that. You know who's really ruining the world? All these fucking liberals!

BTW-I'm not ignoring your first paragraph, I just don't know what in the bloody hell you're talking about and can't respond appropriately.

KJ said...

Now I'm in the mood for tapas.

Anonymous said...

The Ottoman Turks plowed through Armenia in 1915 and a low estimate of one million Armenians were killed (they intended to wipe out the male population). Though it's a bit of an exaggeration, Turks were originally thought to be fair-skinned and a series of genocides at Turkish hands changed that. ( A rather stoic sentiment came out of it: Fine, take our land. But your grandchildren will be speaking Armenian-they were right. William Saroyan wrote: Two Armenians meet anywhere in the world and that's Armenia. ).
Yes, Garofalo has a show. I agree, I can't stand talk radio. From Kelly Malone's saccharine spiel to Rush's "Dittos" it's all crap.

Anonymous said...

I mean, Armenians were thought to be fair-skinned.

KJ said...

Well, you learn something new every day.

LOVE Dali. New favorite is Toro.

Anonymous said...

Something to keep you going on those days you wished you'd become an accountant...

Orhan Pamuk's Nobel Prize acceptance speech

For me, to be a writer is to acknowledge the secret wounds that we carry inside us, wounds so secret that we ourselves are barely aware of them, and to patiently explore them, know them, illuminate them, own them, and make them a conscious part of our spirit and our writing...

All writers who have devoted their lives to their work know this reality: whatever our original purpose, the world that we create after years and years of hopeful writing will, in the end, take us to other, very different places. It will take us far from the table at which we have worked in sadness or in anger; it will take us to the other side of that sadness and anger, into another world.

The question we writers are asked most often, the favorite question, is: Why do you write? I write because I have an innate need to write. I write because I can’t do normal work as other people do. I write because I want to read books like the ones I write. I write because I am angry at everyone. I write because I love sitting in a room all day writing. I write because I can partake of real life only by changing it. I write because I want others, the whole world, to know what sort of life we lived, and continue to live, in Istanbul, in Turkey. I write because I love the smell of paper, pen, and ink. I write because I believe in literature, in the art of the novel, more than I believe in anything else. I write because it is a habit, a passion. I write because I am afraid of being forgotten. I write because I like the glory and interest that writing brings. I write to be alone. Perhaps I write because I hope to understand why I am so very, very angry at everyone. I write because I like to be read. I write because once I have begun a novel, an essay, a page I want to finish it. I write because everyone expects me to write. I write because I have a childish belief in the immortality of libraries, and in the way my books sit on the shelf. I write because it is exciting to turn all life’s beauties and riches into words. I write not to tell a story but to compose a story. I write because I wish to escape from the foreboding that there is a place I must go but—as in a dream—can’t quite get to. I write because I have never managed to be happy. I write to be happy.

from "My Father's Suitcase," The 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature acceptance speech by Orhan Pamuk

KJ said...

Thanks! I will read it the next time I'm feeling sorry for myself b/c I can't afford to order a pizza. :)

I am going to print this out and hang it right next to this one:

Finding pleasure in the challenge of a blank sheet

By Donald M. Murray, Globe Correspondent | December 26, 2006

At the looking- back time of the year, I think of the jobs I was offered -- and didn't take.

Mostly I was offered promotion to editor. Editors make more money than writers. Editors stroll through the city room clasping their hands behind their backs and peeking over writers' shoulders while they write. Editors go to meetings.

I'd respond by saying. "I'm a writer. I want to stay a writer. No promotions please."

Those trying to hire me assured me I could do the job.

I told them I knew I could do the job. I wanted to remain a writer because I didn't know if I could do the job.

Few understood.

Each time I sit down to write I don't know if I can do it. The flow of writing is always a surprise and a challenge. Click the computer on and I am 17 again, wanting to write and not knowing if I can.

E.B. White, the great essayist for The New Yorker, described my fortunate life:

"I'm glad to report that even now, at this late day, a blank sheet of paper holds the greatest excitement there is for me -- more promising than a silver cloud, prettier than a little red wagon. It holds all the hope there is, all fears.

"I can remember, really quite distinctly, looking a sheet of paper square in the eyes when I was seven or eight years old and thinking: 'This is where I belong, this is it.' Having dirtied up probably a quarter-of-a-million of them and sent them down drains and through presses, I am exhausted but not done, faithful in my fashion and fearful only that I will die before one comes out right -- as though I had deflowered a quarter-of-a-million virgins and was still expecting the perfect child.

"What is this terrible infatuation, anyway? Some mild nervous disorder, probably, that compels a man to leave a fiery tale in his wake, like a ten-cent comet, or smell up a pissing post so that the next dog will know who's been along. I have moments when I wish that I could either take a sheet of paper or leave it alone, and sometimes, in despair and vengeance, I just fold them into airplanes and sail them out of high windows, hoping to get rid of them that way, only to have an updraft (or a change of temper) bring them back up again."

Friends wonder why I do not take it easy. Why I don't play golf or walk through cathedrals in Italy. Because I have an obsession. I write. I draw. I try to capture a fragment of life and reveal its wonder to you. I never get it quite right, but there is a joy in the trying that makes me young at 83.

My New Year's wish for you, old and young, is that you find in the year ahead something you can't do.

(This was the last column Donald Murray ever wrote. He passed away a few days after writing this.)

EPB said...

Did you mention tapas? Toro anyone? :-)

Anonymous said...

Keeping young at 83. Amazing.

KJ said...

EPB: Is Toro open for lunch? I am going to the city tomorrow to do an interview in the morning and then wanted to grab some lunch -- hopefully with YOU. Are you around?

SAC said...

Does Beyonce have nappy hair? cuz she, is hot!

KJ-FYI....Imus is a comedian and his show is always full of him picking on somebody. I think he was out of line, deserved the suspension but not the firing. I do or did listen to him often as he doies have great guests but he picks on them too. Nobody was above his humor. He picks on people the way brothers pick on each other. He got caught up in a moment and said something stupid, something that surely he did not mean. His focus on charity and causes close to his heart have brought money, research, attention and influence to areas that most people forget about. And typically it is for children with cancer, autism awareness, SIDS, and other childhood health issues.

Yes, he was out of line but he will be sorely missed.

KJ said...

SAC-I agree he shouldn't have been fired. I never listened to his show but he seems like a decent guy and I certainly wouldn't lump him in with the likes of Rush, Hannity, Coulter etc. I wish those a-holes got the boot instead.

SAC said...

No word on Beyonce?

KJ said...

I think Beyonce has a weave.

lpd said...

Imus has no right to mock ANYBODY'S hair...that man needs a stylist (and a good conditioner).

The players from Rutgers have a right to be angry for being publicly insulted for no reason. Only they know what is the "right" level of apology or restitution.

As for the rest of us... It is sad that in the ratings race, there is an utter lack of respect for ANYONE on the airwaves. We're so used to this "oh no you DIDN'T" brand of entertainment, that it doesn't even seem that explosive or offensive to most people. "Poor Imus...everybody's doing it, why has he been singled out?"

In the world of 24x7 media bombardment, the lines of true journalism and entertainment are often blurred, with former models, actors, comedians and other "celebrities" hosting their own tv and radio shows, spewing controversy-provoking muck and fauxpinions to an America eager to jump on bandwagons rather than to form opinions of their own. I don't think rap music or stand up comedians - of any race - are free from criticism on this matter. Disrespect is disrespect, whether it is for entertainment value or not.

If any good can come from Imus losing his job, its that maybe people will think a little before they speak. Although, the motive will may not be common decency, but fear of losing advertising dollars.

KJ said...

Word to your mother, LPD! Applause...errupting.

Anonymous said...

Imus has struggled for years to maintain this "hip" edge. The guy had a Nixon impersonator on the show for years after the guy had died-it might have been funny in '74. He called people " pant-load"-not very edgy. Yet, he continued to push the envelope, and here I think he didn't understand his millieu; I'm imagining my father trying to differentiate between Imus' comment and the more innocuous "thugged out" ( "Well Thug's not a good thing, back in the day if someone called me a thug I'd a knocked him into next tuesday...") Imus doesn't get it.
I couldn't care less about his show, but I hate the idea that this guy will now position himself as a latter day Lenny Bruce-fighting the system, upending sensibilities.
Oh....someone just give a whoopie cushion, it's friday.

rw said...

"My cat's breath smells like cat food." -Ralph Wiggum

Anonymous said...

"A lot has changed since I was young, but thankfully a kick in the balls is still a kick in the balls...Isn't it?"