Or is it?
The infamous syllables that caused Imus to lose his $10 million a year gig was 'nappy-headed ho'. We wouldn't be engaged in this analysis of race relations, rap lyrics and impact of demeaning words if Imus hadn't watched that clip of the NCAA championship game and denigrated into his racist and sexist rant.
Some say the reaction by MSNBC and CBS was too harsh. This side of the argument reminds us that the the H-word, N-word and B-word are heard every day in the lyrics of many hip hop songs broadcast on BET, VH-1 and other mainstream radio shows. Heck, all of these words were loud and proud in the lyrics of the 2006 Oscar-winning song, It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp.
The flip side of the argument is best laid out by father of the genre, Russell Simmons,
"Hip-hop is a worldwide cultural phenomena that transcends race and doesn't engage in racial slurs. Don Imus' racially motivated diatribe toward the Rutgers women's basketball team was in no way connected to hip-hop culture. ... Don Imus is not a hip-hop artist or a poet. Hip-hop artists rap about what they see, hear and feel around them, their experience of the world. Like the artists throughout history, their messages are a mirror of what is right and wrong with society. Sometimes their observations or the way in which they choose to express their art may be uncomfortable for some to hear, but our job is not to silence or censor that expression. Our job is to be an inclusive voice for the hip-hop community and to help create an environment that encourages the positive growth of hip-hop."Anyhow, it appears that the energy and passion unleashed in reaction to the comments by Imus will move on to the hip-hop and gangsta rap culture. Reverend Al Sharpton says, "I want to meet with people like Snoop Dogg ... see where we can come to common ground."
Even Senator Barack Obama compares rappers to Imus.
Truthfully, I don't know where this post-Imus debate is going to lead. I'm an action-oriented Villager. I like to do what I can do from where I'm at. So, I signed a petition created by Lisa Tundy that Bronze Trinity pointed out to me earlier this week. Here is what it says:
As members & supporters of the Black community, we the undersigned wish to express our outrage against the numerous rap artists whose lyrics and videos degrade women, Black women in particular, as well as themselves. Their incessant use of the terms ‘nigger', ‘bitch, and ‘ho' degrade the Black community. We also denounce their promotion of drug dealing and the poisonous culture of violence they perpetuate.I encourage all visiting villagers to support this effort. I was #277 on the petition list. At a minimum, I would love you to comment about your thoughts on the 'next steps' now that the Imus issue is closed?
We realize freedom of speech is a value held dearly by all in the United States of America. That same freedom of speech which allows these artists to spew their poison is the same freedom that allows us to stand up and say: "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!"
We do not advocate censorship. We are advocating responsibility. Know that this promotion of prison culture has affected our youth. We must put the future of the Black community first! As such,
In the great tradition of our ancestors who began the Montgomery bus boycott, we will not financially patronize or support any entity that discriminates against us or disrespects our people!!
- We will no longer support artists and media outlets who promote stereotypically demeaning images of Black women!!
- We will not purchase music that categorically insults us!!
- We will boycott BET, MTV, VH-1, mainstream radio and any other media outlet that supports and promotes artists who malign, debase, and otherwise disrespect Black people!!
- We are speaking out against a culture that has been hijacked and turned into a vehicle of harm and degradation of an entire people!!