Surrealist Doodle

Surrealist Doodle
This was used as the cover of Karawane in 2006 and I have included it in on a number of bags and postcards over the years. Someone on the subway asked me if it was a Miro. I was very flattered!

Monday, April 23, 2007

My belated two cents on the whole Imus thing

Yeah I know--it took me a while to get to it.

Sometimes stupidity is just too overwhelming to even address. Sometimes I just get too angry to sit down and write. As my mother likes to say "so angry I can't see straight."

Let me get beyond the racism of nappy-haired and beyond the sexism of ho's for the moment, beyond the words themselves. What is truly sexist about this comment, in my eyes, is that it was uttered at all.

In what universe, for what reason, would you insult a team that just won the national championship? Why would it even occur to you? It's not like there were reports that they were running amok or causing trouble or rioting after their win (unlike many other sports teams and fans . . . . hmmmmm....) They won. They took their trophy. They went home to proud friends and family and classmates and behaved themselves with dignity.

Obviously these bitches needed to be taken down a peg.

Unlike male collegiate sports, women who play sports are not given special privileges in the classroom. These are not women skating by in easy classes, their professors being told by Vivian Stringer to pass these girls or else.

There's the old saw that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels. This is exactly what women athletes are up against. They have to actually work hard and study and pass their courses AND be great athletes on top of it. There's not the kind of free ride, automobiles, cash and ho's that are provided to male students.

And yet, would Don Imus--or any pundit--have gone out of their way to make fun of a men's basketball team that had just won a national title? There are those who might say "sure, Imus is a racist and would have done it either way," but I highly doubt it.

The words used in the slur are beside the point to me. It's not that they don't hurt. But that they were uttered at all is the most grievious element.

On the other side, the coverage in the national media was fascinating and the way in which the white media's biases and anxieties came out and I would like to highlight just a couple of points:

1. Paula Zahn on CNN asking about why black people are allowed to make racial jokes and why white people aren't. Hmmmmm . . . a sticky wicket that one, isn't it? Were there a lot of African Americans running around Rutgers yelling "Yo go, you nappy-haired ho's." "We love our nappy-haired bitches."

2. Hannity -- is that the one?-- on Fox News saying to Reverend Sharpton "white America doesn't see what the big deal is. I mean, red states just don't understand the uproar over this." FOR REAL?? You don't understand why someone who just won a national sports title and should be really excited and celebrating would be upset at being called names? And don't f---ing speak for me. I'm white and it's this shit I don't get.

3. Anderson Cooper -- CNN -- the titles along the bottom tell me that this show is about the Imus Controversy and the Rutgers women's basketball team. Yet the two African American men on the show at the moment I get there are being asked by AC about young black men and why they wear their pants down around their knees. What does this have to do with these women??

Which is to say of course that the problem isn't entirely Imus. This situation became a lightning rod, an opportunity for "white America," the "red states" and the white media to air all of their anxiety about race at the feet of these women athletes. They have to stand in and speak for all African American youth. For all African American women. For all women. They will never be unhyphenated athletes. They can only be "black" and "female" and then athletes.

1 comment:

Lyle Daggett said...

The essential point, which none of the mediacorp dwiddleheads seems to get, is that racism and sexism are offensive because they articulate a power relationship (historical and ongoing) in the society.

If it were just a matter of a person here and there with troglodyte ideas about people, it could be handled as an aberration, a form of mental illness (which in the case of Imus and his ilk it probably is anyway, though that's not the point). What takes is beyond that is the long and more or less unbroken history behind that.

Going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing Imus's ancestors (and Paula Zahn's and Anderson Cooper's), whatever may be their stories, probably weren't brought to North America as property in chains in the cargo hold of a slave ship. Some words and ideas are offensive and repugnant not so much because of who says them (though that may be relevant), but because of the history behind the words. History, might we add, which is not over yet.

Thanks for posting this.