- The Washington Times - Monday, April 9, 2007

Where is C. Delores Tucker, the feisty civil rights leader, when you need her? No doubt, the late president of the National Congress of Black Women, might be loudest among the critics calling for the ouster of radio talk-show host Don Imus for the racist and sexist comments he made about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team.

But Mrs. Tucker’s tirade would not stop, as it shouldn’t, with the race-baiting-for-ratings ploy of an aging, white radio shock jock. After all, Mr. Imus is not the first person to call black women disparaging and disrespectful names. Just tune in to any urban radio station.

On April 4, during the “Imus in the Morning” show on radio, which is simulcast on cable-TV’s MSNBC, Mr. Imus referred to the Rutgers team — with a black coach, eight black players and two white players — as “nappy-headed hos.” His producer, Bernard McGuirk, also referred to the championship game between Rutgers and the University of Tennessee as “a Spike Lee thing,” adding, “the Jigaboos versus the Wannabes” from the movie “School Daze.” Lukewarm apologies were issued from the host and disclaimers from the network that carries the show, WFAN-AM in New York and MSNBC. Last night, MSNBC announced that it would suspend Mr. Imus’ program for two weeks.

Dazed and incensed black activists nationwide, with the furor of a renewed mission, are livid and will accept no less than Mr. Imus’ hide. And, well they should. But some of that righteous indignation should be directed at the celebrities who look like us and call us out of our given names, our beautiful blackness, on a daily basis.

The Rev. Al Sharpton is about to sweat his hair back he’s so angry. Yesterday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson led a protest outside Chicago’s NBC tower.

The National Association of Black Journalists issued statements saying Mr. Imus’ apology was “too little, too late.” Free speech aside, these organizations are asking other journalists, celebrities and politicians to decline invitations to appear on the lucrative show that has been around since 1971.

Outraged bloggers are calling for his resignation and even boycotts of some of the show’s sponsors. Not one, however, I noted after skimming several Web sites, chastised a single rap musician, in pure C. Delores style, for their liberal perpetuation of denigrating misogynistic labels. In fact, to my dismay, defenses and dismissals of gangsta-rap lyrics appeared.

Calling yourself a “dawg,” a “NWA” or worse, gives others license to follow your slurs.

Not to excuse them in the least, but where might Mr. Imus and his has-been cohorts have heard that “nappy-headed ho” moniker more frequently? Who boldly introduced the terms “jigaboos and wannabes” into the mainstream American lexicon? A celebrated black filmmaker, Spike Lee.

Quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday, Mr. Lee said: “This is not the first time Imus has said stuff like this. Then to hide behind free speech, taking jigaboos and wannabes out of context, is ridiculous.

“I came up with jigaboos and wannabes … for something very specific about how African-Americans view themselves based on hair color, complexion, etc.,” he said. “I was trying to show how crazy it was to do that, that black folks come in all different shapes, tones and sizes, etc., that one is not to be ridiculed over the other because we’re all beautiful. … [Mr. Imus] don’t know what I was talking about with ‘School Daze,’ and it’s evident with unfortunate comments like that.”

I’ve never even seen or heard the tasteless trash spewed by Mr. Imus, but I’m not the only Sistagirl I know who loves to get their tresses dreadlocked, braided, twisted and nappy-headed, especially on beach-bum vacations.

Still, Mr. Lee suggested that just because Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey have made it, “people need to wake up, especially when they hear stuff like this.” Yes, “Do the Right Thing.” Spare no one their racist spurts, white or black.

Comedian Michael Richards was appropriately spiked for his use of the N-word, but only the silent screams from C. Delores smack Snoop Dogg, who makes millions off his n-word mantras.

Mrs. Tucker, who died in October 2005, was shamefully vilified in lascivious lyrics by rappers such as Snoop, Eminem and Tupac Shakur, whom she unsuccessfully sued. She didn’t let anyone off the chain for their violent and derogatory diatribes, even though she received little support from civil rights watchdogs. Believing that the music genre was a form of black genocide, she even spanked the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for nominating Shakur for an Image Award.

Today, no one dares to suggest marching out to Prince George’s County to beat down the doors of Kathy Hughes, owner of Radio One, which broadcasts Mr. Sharpton’s show, as well as hip-hop fare. Or tries to set up a picket line along New York Avenue Northeast near Black Entertainment Television, broadcaster of degrading music videos, which made mogul Robert L. Johnson a gazillionaire before he eventually sold the cable station to Viacom.

With no discernible cry against the daily diet of denigration of black women, how many impressionable black teens aspire to have their 15 minutes of fame being one of the objectified hoochie-mamas, gyrating over bodies of gold-toothed, luxury-sedan-driving thugs, hollering about slapping around their hos?

Don Imus and his insensitive, immoral ilk are hardly alone to blame for black female bashing.

The quintessential black feminist poet, Nikki Giovanni, now a popular professor at Virginia Tech, once wrote, “I could say I am black female and bright in a white male mediocre world, but that hardly explains why I sit on the beaches of St. Croix feeling so abandoned.”

Truly, we — and I’m speaking mainly to black folks like myself — must stop, take note and stamp out the harm we are inflicting on ourselves and our children as we call the hurtful acts of others into question.

That’s what I’m certain C. Delores Tucker would say if she were alive today.

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