Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Everyone's A Little Bit Racist

Everyone's a little bit racist
Doesn't mean we go
Around committing hate crimes.
Look around and you will find
No one's really color blind.
Maybe it's a fact
We all should face
Everyone makes judgments
Based on race.

-from Avenue Q

I've given the whole Don Imus thing some thought and the thoughts that I have are mixed. One the one hand, what Imus said regarding the Rutgers women's basketball team was waaaay over the line.

But then I start to think about how people are reacting towards his words. Yes, they are bad, but they way people act, you'd think Imus just burned a cross.

I'm not saying Imus should be treated with kid gloves on this. I think his two week suspension is justified. But let's think about this. Imus isn't the only person that has said something racist or sexist or homophobic. For example, Jesse Jackson, who is demanding Imus' head, called New York, "Hymietown" back in 1984. Or, let's talk about why the NAACP gave actor Isaiah Washington an Image Award, even though he called a fellow actor who is gay a "faggot?"

And let's face it: a lot of hip-hop artists call women, "bitches" and "hos" like it was going out of style.

The video and the lyrics above come from the Broadway play "Avenue Q" and the words make sense: we all have some prejudice of some type. Lot's of African Americans have biases against Jews, Asians and gays; there are gay folk that are prejudiced against blacks and so forth. The sad fact is, this is a very human condition and we all have some prejudice towards some group. The challenge is to overcome it, not to pretend we are pure as the drive snow.

Again, I'm not saying that what Imus did was no big deal: what he said was racist and sexist and his suspension is justified. But I don't think we should start acting like what he did is the unforgiveable sin. Imus should be given a second chance, and not be treated as if he were a member of the Klan. In the end what he did was utter some words, horrible and hurtful words, yes, but words nonetheless. In the history of African Americans, we have faced far worse.

So my advice to is to calm down. Let Imus deal with what he said. Maybe his meeting with the women will open his eyes. But let's also know that none of us is without sin. We all harbor some bias.

Let he that is without sin...


Paul said...

Unfortunately Imus has a long history of making such insensitive remarks, or of allowing others to air them unchallenged on his show. Maybe he deserves a 50th chance, but perhaps at some point we should draw the line.

Pete Abel said...

It seems the free market is deciding (right or wrong) to send Imus a stern message. Unlike Christ, capitalism casts stones all the time.

Net: I agree with the spirit of Dennis' post, but I think the market is closer to commenter Paul's viewpoint -- again, right or wrong.