It is our feeling that this is only the beginning. We must have a broad discussion on what is permitted and not permitted in terms of the airwaves.
- Rev. Al Sharpton
OK, so African-Americans got what they by and large wanted. Don Imus was fired by CBS. Yippee…. Imus’ firing can, and probably should be filed under “Things that in the long run ultimately won’t change things one iota.” Realistically, what’s going to change? How can we expect anything to change when this discussion has been all about Don Imus’ apparently heinous and unforgivable crime against humanity and not about the ridiculous double standard at work among African-Americans?
I’m not about to defend Imus. I don’t care about the man. He can spend the rest of his life spinning yarn from yak hair in a Punjabi ashram for all I care. What I do care about is the rampant, latent hypocrisy that has been evident in the public discussion since this controversy came to light. What is wrong with what Imus said when African-Americans use the same words- and far worse- in everyday discourse and in rap and hip-hop music?
I listened to an interview with an editor from Vibe on ABC News last night, and I listened incredulously as this African-American woman opined that there should be different standards for Whites and African-Americans. An interesting argument for a member of a community that has demanded equality for so long now, eh? Her contention was that since words like “bitches”, “hos”, and “nigger” were originally used by Whites as pejoratives, they should be prevented from using them. However, since they have different meanings when used among African-Americans, they should be considerable acceptable in that context.
Oh, so you have to be a member of the club in order to use racially-tinged, insensitive, and insulting language? How could I have been so naive?? Uh…sorry, but this is where I call bullshit. Language is either offensive and inappropriate or it’s not. You don’t get to pick and choose who gets to use that language based on the color of one’s skin.
AND THAT’S NOT RACIST??? If that isn’t, I don’t know what is.
What Sharpton is talking about is controlling the cultural definitions of what is acceptable and what is not…which would be fine, IF there were one working definition. If we’re going to talk about different rules for different racial groups or ethnicities, this is where I get off. I’m tired of the hypocrisy, the “I can do it because I’m black, but if you do it, you’re a (&^%$#@ White racist pig” mentality. This madness needs to stop, and it needs to stop NOW. If we’re to have anything resembling a meaningful dialogue across our differences, we’re wasting our breath if African-Americans are OK with the idea of one set of linguistic rules for them while maintaining a much different and more stringent set of rules for everyone else.
Slavery ended 142 years ago. The Civil Rights movement, depending on your definition, has been over for some 30-40 years. This means that African-Americans have lost their right to play the race card. No, I’m not about to tell you that we now enjoy perfect racial equality. This sorry episode has amply demonstrated that. Even so, I am sick and tired of listening to African-American leaders crucify Don Imus while their own house is rotting from within. If you want equality, act like it. You cannot play the race card and decry your victimhood whenever it suits your purpose.
From where I sit, there’s a very simple resolution to this issue. If African-Americans are upset about the language used by Don Imus, as well they probably should be, THEN THEY NEED TO STOP USING THE SAME LANGUAGE IN EVERYDAY DISCOURSE. If it’s offensive and demeaning, then it’s offensive and demeaning regardless of the color of the person using that language. If you cannot see the hypocrisy inherent in the current status quo, then you’re even more clueless and hypocritical than I’d feared.