Why Don Imus Should Still Have a Job…

This doesn’t feel right. It just doesn’t feel right. Long after Don Imus gets his show up and running on a newly consolidated satellite radio company, Hip-Hop will still be put through the ringer over comments similar to “nappy headed hoes.” An art form, put under pressure to censor it’s expression due to an inappropriate […]

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This doesn’t feel right. It just doesn’t feel right. Long after Don Imus gets his show up and running on a newly consolidated satellite radio company, Hip-Hop will still be put through the ringer over comments similar to “nappy headed hoes.” An art form, put under pressure to censor it’s expression due to an inappropriate comment made by a sacrificial lamb in order to bring about the true prize in this whole fiasco: the muting and spading of Hip-Hop.

 Imus has a long history of these kinds of sensitive remarks. He’s been making them for longer than I’ve been alive. He’s presumably an intelligent man, you don’t survive in the radio medium by not being able to read and interpret people and being able to build and serve a captive audience. Imus had done that in spades (no slur intended). Now we are to assume that this man who is a leader and a trailblazer in talk radio is naïve enough to not have known the significance of what he was saying? I don’t believe that. However I also don’t believe that a man should lose his job because demagogues are campaigning for his slot (and presumably the money that comes with it).

Hip-Hop doesn’t create ho’s. W#### is a biblical word. It’s older than print. Is Jesus responsible for the “nappy headed w#####”? They do say “hair of wool.” But I digress. At the heart of this matter is not a cultural condemnation. My issue with Mr. Imus is that he commented on children. Make no mistake, college age “adults” are still children regardless of the age of majority. They still have boy trouble, they still have pimples, they still have an exam to take in the morning, and these children had an even bigger hurdle.


They are athletes. Not the ones driving booster-bought SUVs with rims bigger than their age, but the D-1 athletes that actually have to go to class, because there isn’t anything on the other side of the NCAA plantation. Oh yeah, under D-1 rules these girls can’t even get a real job if they’re receiving a scholarship during the season. They play for pride, they play for dignity, they play so an organization with a 2 Billion dollar CBS contract can continue to make money off the sales of their games, the use of their image, the sale of jerseys attached to their performance, and additional alumni moneys and associated revenue. All for a scholarship.


Maybe that’s where the w#### part comes in. But then that would make the colleges in Utah, and New Hampshire, and every other team with a significant amount of white players nappy headed hoes too. Also include the football and baseball and hockey teams as well as those Duke Lacrosse boys (recently exonerated from being accused of raping their nappy headed ho…no really. (Would that have been ho on ho crime?)

Make no mistake Don Imus was wrong, but not why you think he is. He was wrong because his comments, which were stupid (as opposed to ignorant because Imus knows better) and wrong, and because he slandered the reputation of our children. Those players bust their ass for everything they get and don’t deserve that kind of attention, especially in the midst of a dream run in the NCAA tournament. He should have been sued for slander and hit in the pocket where this would really hurt him. This just frees him to take his act to the haven for this behavior, satellite radio. And god speed. Censorship, and the fight against it make strange bedfellows it would seem.

This isn’t about Don Imus. It’s about the power of our music and culture and the attempt to nullify it. It’s like pork barrel projects. Attach a ridiculous notion that you know no congressman would risk political suicide voting against so that you can get your wish and the support of unwilling allies. Make this issue about the denigration of women and everyone is on board. Find a big target and even the occasional blind dart will find its mark.


Find the right circus huckster and step right up to see the strong man, the bearded lady and the all-powerful, influencing men who have been in media longer than it’s existence and the scourge of black women everywhere even though it was Co-founded by a woman (Shout to Herc’s sister who threw the back to school party that set us off): Hip-Hop.

Feast your eyes on how we turn an agent for social change, and a contributor to Tibet Freedom, Farm-Aid, Live-Aid, lemonade and all other forms of world music causes into a hulking monster of rape, murder, and misogyny. Without gamma rays, no less! Watch as a movement with the balance of a Common and a Kool G. Rap makes one half invisible and be only known for bullets instead of ballads! Impossible you ask? No. That’s exactly what is happening to the perception of our movement and culture.

You’ll find no shortage of people who want to make Hip-Hop better, or remove it. You’ll find even more who want to protect good will towards women. The question is twofold. One, is it right to pin a gender war that has raged since we looked down and saw one had a plus and the other a socket on something that’s barely 30 years old? Secondly, is it patronage to come to women’s rescue with our capes flapping like Dudley Do Right as if they were incapable of protecting themselves? And you thought chivalry was dead.


Women run Fortune 500 companies, they go to school in larger numbers than men, they graduate at higher percentages than men, and one is even running for president. What makes you think they need someone’s help to protect themselves? Can’t they just stop buying albums, stop dancing, and support something that makes them feel good? Do we need laws to help them do that? Do we need marches?

They certainly have no problem dishing it out. How often are men referred to as dogs (male b######)? How often are fathers portrayed as the chuckling m#### of the house while the woman is the only one that knows what’s going on and keeps the family going? Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, and The World According to Jim are three examples that don’t even have Black characters or have anything remotely to do with Hip-Hop. Should those be taken off the air for depicting men as bumbling idiots for almost a decade? Hip-Hop has nothing to do with that discussion. As long as our plumbing is different, we’re going to have gender beef. It has been that way before Hatfields and McCoys, Arabs and Israelis, Lakers and Celtics, Blue Devils and Tarheels.

So why exactly IS Hip-Hop involved in this discussion? We didn’t create w####, and Imus doesn’t play Hip-Hop on his show. It wasn’t playing on the loud speakers during the game. Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s plane, it’s a scapegoat! Rap albums have stickers for parental advisory. Just like the R-rated movie Grindhouse where the main character seduces women to ride in his car, and subsequently murders them. I’m sure that’s really encouraging to all those burgeoning rapists out there.


It’s not free, you have to either buy it, or go through channels to get it unless you’re in your garage annoying your neighbors. Its largest audience is not Black men or Black women, but young white people, and that Hallmark of Hip-Hop skillz MC [Karl] Rove.

An entire generation of us grew up during its most “negative” periods, with no ill effects to our psyches. Just as we watched slasher movies, and the crack fueled crime numbers went through the roof. Now that crime is at historic lows, and the imagery is more fantasy than reality, now we say that Hip-Hop is causing community disintegration? Based on what? Never mind the lack of movement against the radio outlets that allow questionable material during hours that vulnerable children could hear it. Never mind the lack of boycott or movement against the conglomerates that fund the lyrical “terrorism.”

Perhaps that’s the answer. Perhaps Hip-Hop should defend itself the same way others do…with our checkbook. Maybe it’s time to get a lobby. Time to start paying that political protection money. We’re a billion dollar industry. I’m sure we can support a few decision makers. Maybe it is time for us as a culture and a movement to grow up…but not the way you think.

Don Imus didn’t think his advertisers would cave. He didn’t know that people would take offense after many years of similar sophomoric behavior. Don Imus didn’t know how seriously Black people’s issues affect their world. Nappy hair is your heritage. Is it someone else’s fault you don’t value your heritage?


Is Don Imus responsible for the cultural climate that aids in the devaluation of your own self image? No. He is only the setup. He’s only the microscope for those who are not intimate for our struggle to dissect our movement. It’s time for Hip-Hop to grow up. To be proactive and not reactionary. To self police and to understand the difference between policing and censoring. Adults should never be censored no matter what they think or how they live as long as it doesn’t infringe on the lives of others. Don Imus’ comments did just that. But not the way you think.