Thursday, April 12, 2007

Some Thoughts on the Imus Controversy

There’s a lot of heat over Radio personality Don Imus calling members of the Rutgers Women’s basketball team “Nappy Headed Hos”. Some want him fired, Others want his head. I want Black America to wake up. Imus isn’t the problem here. We are.

Yes, that’s right Imus isn’t the problem here. He’s merely a symptom of a decades long issue Black America doesn’t want to face: The Mainstreaming and Institutionalization of misogyny and self-racism in Black America. Way before Imus or Michael Richards called Blacks Nappy headed hoes and Niggers we called ourselves Niggers and Nappy headed hoes in books, movies, and music videos and songs.

How did this happen? A cultural revolution of sorts. In the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s the older generation of Blacks whether out of pride or shame didn’t teach the younger generation of Blacks about Institutional Racism, how racism is deeply embedded and interwoven in the culture of America. As Blacks became college educated and more economically upwardly mobile, they began to blindly assimilate mainstream American values, not understanding how detrimental this way of thinking is to our community.

Thanks to this way of thinking, Blacks began to see themselves as individuals and not members of a collective minority. Because Blacks began to see themselves this way, we had little regard for our fellow brothers and sisters in the community. We couldn’t understand how our singular actions affected the entire community as a whole.

As a result of this individualized thinking, Blacks stopped seeing themselves as a singular community but enclaves of subcultures. We separated ourselves into populations of Black Elites, Black Bourgeoisie, Alphas, Intellectuals, Gangstas, Thugs, Hustlers, Pimps, Toms, Players, Macks, Scrubs Down Lows, Sistas, Sisters, and dare I say Hoes and Bitches. Each individual sub-culture is fighting the other to establish itself as the legitimate mainstream Black American culture and not seeing themselves as a part of a larger group. Each group refuses to see how its individual actions affect the entire black community. Moreover, we individuals refuse to take responsibility for educating the other parts of the community on its role in the larger picture of Black society. Divide and conquer.

Unfortunately, Blacks who adopted this segmented way of thinking today do not understand the catch-22 of Institutional Racism on the overall American culture. All Blacks in America are judged by the actions of some individuals in our group. When a Black male calls a black woman a “nappy headed ho” or a “Nigger” in mainstream media, it legitimizes the use of racial slurs in the overall American culture. When Black female entertainers openly promote themselves as sexually promiscuous it legitimizes the image of the “Nappy headed ho” as the standard for all black women to all of America. These actions not only make it justifiable for blacks to call a black woman a “nappy headed ho” but members of other races Like Mr. Imus and Mr. Richards to call our women “nappy headed ho” and to call our men “Niggers”.

Black America needs to wake up. If our community is to grow in consciousness and awareness, we can’t keep reacting to the Don Imus’ every time they make a comment. Reacting to the racists doesn’t change the response we receive from the institutions that promote self-destructive images in our communities. We have to start educating the younger generation about the overall Black culture we live in so they can have an understanding of their role in fighting the racism within the greater American society.

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