A Don Imus apology? Where’s my lighter?


I’ve never expected anything from Don Imus so I guess maybe I’m one of the few who wasn’t particularly shocked by what the idiot said. No need for me to repeat it for the umpteenth time here since every other blog in creation has already done so, but suffice it to say that after having read it my basic reaction was the following: “Yep. That right there’s gonna get some folks pretty pissed off.”

And I’m already guessing that some folks reading this post may be getting pissed all over again that I’m not pissed to the appropriate fire-breathing degree. Please accept my apologies, but I hope you’ll allow me to explain.

I’ve spent the past couple of days monitoring the response to this whole thing, both in the black blogosphere and everywhere else. That alone has been interesting in about the same way as watching the racially split-screen response to the O.J. Simpson verdict was interesting.  White folks in this corner, black folks in that corner. Followed, of course, by the appropriate shock and amazement that nobody seemed to have taken Brother Rodney King’s advice. I was only shocked that nobody suggested we try singing another verse of “We Shall Overcome.”

 Here’s the thing, and I’ll try my best not to repeat what many others have already said; Don Imus has been doing this routine for over 30 years. Don Imus insults everybody. Everybody who has been insulted by Don Imus, or who has listened to Don Imus insult people, knows that Imus insults everybody. The radio station that employs Imus certainly knows Imus insults everybody because that’s what they pay him for. He didn’t just start doing this.

Does this make it OK? No. Of course not. But just like everything else that is ugly and senseless in the world, attitudes like his are not going to evaporate.  Imus is just like the poor; he will be with us always, just taking on different forms. If he’s fired from his job, then fine. But don’t change that radio dial because he will be back in someone else’s skin with a mask on. He will be with us always and forever. We will continue to ask for his head on a platter, we will view the platter with the head of Imus and declare ourselves well pleased, and then his head will be re-attached to the next generation Imus. Frankenstein is too valuable to be tucked away in mothballs. If racism sells, that’s because somebody’s buying, and this is a consumer culture. Morality has nothing to do with it.

And so I expect nothing from Imus, and this includes an apology. Those who believe an insincere apology from a worthless individual who will go on to make more money dishing up more sewer water and calling it soda pop are free to enjoy it. Far be it from me to steal anyone’s joy. But once the cameras have stopped rolling and the next shocking headline has bumped Imus off to the side, don’t be offended when you see him give you a wink and a grin. That’s because Imus knows the game. He’s been playing the game a long time.

What do I think we need to do? Well, I did say that I would try not to repeat what everybody else has been saying, and I don’t know how well I’ve been doing because everyone has been saying so much, but one thing I think does bear repeating is something Imus pointed out himself (because you knew he would), namely that young black men call black women these terms all the time. “I may be white” he said, but he is well aware of that fact. And how could he not be? How could he not be aware of the fact that when we call each other ‘nigger’ it’s affection, but with whites it’s a horrible offense? And how do we expect white people to be able to understand this? How do we expect them NOT to exploit it and make fun of it and turn it against us? Are we really shocked that this chicken has come home to roost?

No, I don’t excuse Imus. I just don’t value him enough to expect anything more from him. I don’t give a damn about Imus is I guess what I’m trying to say here. Who I do care about – madly, passionately – is us. How is it that we can do the things that we do to ourselves? How is it that we can say the things that we say to ourselves? I live in Detroit, which has the largest African American population of any major American city, and as Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said in his State of the City address, “This is us killing us.”

And I expect so much more from us, man. Racist idiots like Imus will do what they do, and certainly they need to be called to task. I’m not saying be silent about it. But let’s put the same amount of energy into healing ourselves as we put into demanding hollow apologies from broken-down show clowns, pretending these apologies will somehow make life better for our children.

We need to teach our children the truth, and the first truth is that they deserve to be loved. Not by Don Imus because Imus does not matter. Our children deserve to be loved first and foremost by themselves. And we are the only ones who can teach them how to do it.


~ by Keith A. Owens on April 10, 2007.

10 Responses to “A Don Imus apology? Where’s my lighter?”

  1. […] Read more here… […]

  2. Your last four paragraphs sum it up nicely. Should Imus get fired, the next day we will still be calling each other bithces, hoes and niggas on the radio while getting upset when others do the same thing,

  3. Some in the African-American used such derogatory terms as a matter of affections to refer to some within their community. I suggest that this is self-hate, a lack of endearment, and a tough love approach in dealing with one another.

    I do not refer to my friends or family members in these terms. And when I do, I know that I have placed them in a category where humanity no longer exist within their hearts.

    This is a form of violence on our community. Much love on the “D” spot.

  4. J. Brotherlove and Credo, thanks much for dropping by The “D”
    Spot and for taking the time to share your thoughts. I really do appreciate it, and I hope you’l keep coming back so we can keep the dialogue going.

  5. K – A post by field caused me to wonder about this so-called national debate on race relations … if you were the moderator for the national debate, what would be the first question that you pose to the panel members?

  6. Hey Villager.

    First of all I have to say I pretty much agree with Field on this one, but since you ask, I think here’s what my question would be:

    “After all these years, after all this evidence, why do we continue to be surprised that the wounds are still leaking?”

  7. Prior to the Imus incident Black response was from a position of powerlessness ;no longer can that be said now we wait for the white back lash

  8. Hey Tootsie.

    Good to have you in the hnouse. And yeah, I do suspect you may be right about that backlash. Matter of fact I was just commenting similarly to a friend about that possibility the other day. We shall see…

  9. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  10. Sign: wdpad Hello!!! vycsd and 317skgbshacgn and 423 : Sorry, what did you mean?? A??

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