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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Please Be Kind To Rutgers Women's Basketball Team and Imus

Message sent to the Rutgers women's basketball team through Hillary Clintons website April 11. 2007....

"I truly wish you could have that special day back, untainted by the very worst of another's human flaw. It was your time to celebrate and you and yours only. As the nation became aware of your young adult achievements, through a most unfortunate circumstance, I will always be inspired by your teams display of wisdom and grace in the face of such looming adversity. Wishing you all the best in your wonderful journey ahead."

Sunday, April 15, 2007 By George Solomon The Washington Post One Extraordinary Robinson Remembers Another


Last week I was listening to Bill Press on the way in to work. He was talking about Imus. I made my call to his radio show to voice my opinion about the situation surrounding Imus and the team from Rutgers. Before getting ready for work that day I watched a little of Imus in the morning. Sometimes I would turn on Imus to catch up on stuff and if any of his upcoming guests were of interest. If he made a comment that I didn't agree with, I didn't turn him off immediately. Instead, I would wait till he was done with his little rant till the guest came on to be interviewed. Sometimes he would do his shtick aimed at his on air staff, or maybe he was having a bad mood day. I guess I missed the most offensive comments that are being talked about today.

Imus is an expert at interviewing and would engage his guests naturally. A salty ornery rascal of a guy....which I enjoyed, especially when he interviewed politicians. He talked about current events in a way that was as if he was across the table from you. He didn't mince words, he talked straight and he didn't attempt to seduce the listener with misinformation and nonsense. I do feel lucky that I missed the long list of objectionable remarks it is being said that Imus imparted over the years. I would've had to hear them before turning the channel, before, not now. Not now, because there is no more Imus in the Morning. Tolerating Imus and his salty approach allowed me an opportunity to hear about the daily goings on in the life of the nation, the Gulfcoast, politics, Hollywood and Iraq.

The assortment of topics and guests are the reason I watched. He most definitely crossed the line with his crack about the Rutgers team and he took the right steps forward to rectify what his remark did. I had a strong feeling that he was truly sorry and that as soon as he met the young ladies, he would understand why they were so hurt by his comments. Putting Imus on a two week suspension seemed like a wise decision, letting the dust settle a bit and allowing him and his staff to take his format to another conscious level socially. It would have been a better show. I thought he would have that chance, to open the door to the more sensitive area of discussion about race and gender. Most television news shows wouldn't touch this subject with a ten foot pole. The media have tried before, but failed to get a meaningful message out to the nation every time.

I wish I could think of just one show that actually took the subject of racism and sexism to a successful level of teaching through example. Unfortunately I can think of several terrible examples of when the media had the chance to give the public a teaching tool for acknowledging, addressing and rectifying conflicts out of racially motivated comments and / or sexist insults made on the air. Subtle and direct, there have been many. But then again, the media is controlled by corporations and corporations are rooted in Institutional Racism and it is still the place where Glass Ceilings exist to keep a specific gender in her place. These are whole topics in themselves....Institutional Racism, Glass Ceilings, Don't Ask, Don't Tell and Age Discrimination.

A wise, graceful and forgiving team of young women from Rutgers seemed to be in a position to help the nation understand. Imus would benefit from knowing them, they he and us them. Then, together they could show the nation how to begin the talk and the work necessary, to heal, to gain hope and grow. I thought the Imus in Morning Show would be a good vehicle to open the discussion when it was time. I must have been looking through my rose colored glasses again. The corporate sponsors seemed to be lacking that vision that others had for Imus and the team. The show would have been a good place to bring the subject to light. But the sponsors seemed to be making their decision based on...what?

Then comes the most bizarre comparisons by other radio shows / news and television news / show hosts. I've heard now, for the millionth time, that rap and hip hop music needs to be censored now. Did these hosts get lost? Even Bill Press got stuck on that wrong turn too. I thought this whole Imus thing was about talk show hosts and the racist and sexist things they say over the 'public' airwaves? As far as I can tell, Howard Stern is the only other authentic shock jock left, besides Imus. I could never watch Howard again, but I would never attempt to censor him either, no matter how disgusting he can get.

In the past year I have heard, over the air waves, a slew of offensive 'Isms'. Since I don't watch FOX or CNN Headline News anymore, the long list of nasty clips get played by other shows. Mostly to point out what new bad thing was said about so and so. And I only stop on the AM radio stations like Air America 950, WCCO or MN Public Radio. I turn the channel or dial if I don't like what I hear....when Stephanie Millers guy starts doing his voices, I turn the dial. It sounds bad, so I don't listen. But, I do like the shows that format for callers, the more diplomatic and truthful, the better I enjoy the show. My favorite show is Washington Journal on Saturday and Sunday morning on C-SPAN.

When I listen to callers with different opinions, varying views or interesting observations, it lends a peek into who is really out there in the world. Hosts that stand up to rude insulting narrow minded callers, like Randi Rhodes does, inspire me. She by far is the best advocate for the common folk anywhere around and boy can she handle the rudest of the rude. Formats that promote discussion through respectful disagreement 'Agreeing to Disagree' are the best of the best and then there are the other formats...the worst of the worst.

Imus in the Morning was not even close to being the worst of the worst, his show was just different. Imus sort of reminds me of an Archie Bunker, which I loved that show too. I was a teenager when Archie Bunker, Maude, The Jeffersons and Mary Tyler Moore shows aired weekly on TV.

My Mom wouldn't allow me to watch Archie Bunker the first few season it was on. She rejected the bad behavior of Archie Bunker, she rejected the bigot and the chauvinist in him. The third season I watched, I watched every week. I wanted to know what it looked like, bigotry and chauvinism. My Mom and I had a battle over the TV, I turned it to Archie Bunker, she got up and turned it away, I turned it back. Eventually she gave in and I am glad she did. Here is this tiny Irish lady completely and utterly opposed to the discussion of race let alone women's lib. And here was her tall lanky mixed race teenaged daughter standing up and making a statement that she wants to know what prejudice looked like.

I very rarely disobeyed my Mom, but this was a subject she wasn't comfortable talking about, so I chose the Archie Bunker show to learn. I actually liked the show because of the differences portrayed, the conflicts that arose and the solutions voiced through informed logic. Real dialogue. I still wasn't sure what prejudice actions actually looked like, not for the longest time, but it was important to know what someone might say or think when carrying around that bad seed of bigotry with them. The most loving thing my Mom did for me, was to protect me as long as she could, by using reasons such as someone must have had a bad day, in a bad mood or they had something bad happen to them, the reason why they acted as rudely as they did. My feelings weren't hurt nearly as much when she put it that way.

Then an experience with a 'combating racism' training I attended in the early 1990s, felt like I had been gutted like a fish. I was excluded along with other people of color intentionally, from a group of coworkers going to lunch. They were so angry with the facilitator of the training that they didn't realize what they did to their coworkers of color. They were literally blinded by their feelings. I dreaded the follow up training we had to attend, it was the hardest challenge I believe I had to consciously face. Never before had I knowingly been excluded because of how I looked. That was hard, I did take the first step to open the discussion and was able to look forward.

My coworkers have been valued for many years now. That was quite an eye opener and kindness does matter. It matters to the one that feels hurt because of another and it matters to the one who is sincerely sorry for lapse of sensitivity. It matters in our family, with our friends, in school, at work or doing business in the community.

Imus is a radio personality, a shock jock who does good for others, was suspended well after the awful comment was made. Then fired, while in the process of trying to mend a hurt caused by his words. The Rutgers team and Imus are paying the ultimate extended price of a conveniently timed 'Suppression' of his show, where I believe the solution of healing and teaching was waiting to happen.

April 15, 2007 Less People Less Idiots by Rev. Billy Bob Gisher Don Imus: Change the friggin’ channel

April 15, 2007 New York Times -- Books By SAM TANENHAUS Playing Along With Imus

Sunday, April 15, 2007 By Jonetta Rose Barras The Washington Post
We're Our Own Worst Imuses

April 15, 2007 By RANDY KENNEDY New York Times: Hey, That’s (Not) Funny

Saturday, April 14, 2007 By Colbert I. King The Washington Post Standing Up to Imus

April 12, 2007 News Hounds by Ellen "We watch FOX so you don't have to" Ann Coulter Presented As Moral Authority Re Imus 76 comments
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