Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Real State of the Union

On January 23, 2007, President George W. Bush gave what many thought was the State of the Union Address. The real state of the Union was given my Don Imus and was heard across the world on television, radio, and streaming live through the internet. If you thought that Hurricane Katrina was an example of how the normative population of this nation holistically feels about her citizens of African descent, you have just been reminded again. Do not think for a minute that Imus is in the minority among white citizens of this country. There are many that share his racist beliefs. He proclaims that he said something very stupid, but he’s not racist…he just made a racist remark. I beg to differ. His comments came from the heart and were indeed sincere. He admitted that he was not intoxicated or on any medications that would have placed him in some irrational state of mind or impaired his judgment in any way. When he spoke so hatefully, he did so in a very comfortable and naturally way. I say that he was drunk however; intoxicated by the privileges of his race, class, and gender. Imus’ barrage of insensitivity is not just racist but the sexist context of his utterances cannot be overlooked. He called every black woman a “nappy-headed hoe” and his use of Spike Lee’s characterization of the “jigaboos vs. the wannabe’s” (from the film School Daze) is not drawing enough attention either. Outrage at his comments should come from throughout the African Diaspora.
Of course at this point we must ask, “What can we learn from this?” Is this something solely for African Americans to engage or is it a topic for the nation to grapple with? Where do you direct the rage and anger? I’ll tell you. African Americans must make this a teachable moment for ourselves, and the nation. We must continue to discuss and question our existence in America. That can only be accomplished through an active program of education of self and then and only then can we be able to chart a true path of self-determination. Where or how do we start? First we must educate ourselves on our own history. Many of the problems we currently face are self-inflicted and that come from ignorance of the struggle for equality that has afforded so many of us the luxuries we now take for granted. Education is never too late or too soon. We must supplement the current institutional education provided us with histories that help to empower and embolden us to continue to stand against those not only espouse racist remarks from their mouth but also act on white supremacist rhetoric.
Furthermore, let us re-examine our so-called black leadership. Does Sharpton or Jackson really speak for us? If we are not a monolithic people how can one or two individuals speak for the entire race? Additionally, where is the next generation of activist leadership? Are they being mentored by the likes of the Civil Rights generation, or more importantly, how to we create and uplift the localized leadership that was the catalyst for the movement for racial equality during the black freedom movement?
Imus has given us a chance to glance back at ourselves and do what we can to arm ourselves mentally, spiritually, and physically against the enemy of hate and ignorance both with our race and outside of it as well. As the normative population reaffirms their true thoughts about persons of African descent, more than ever we must know ourselves for ourselves. Individuals such as Imus will rear their repugnant faces time and time again, but do not use such actions as an excuse to get fired up. This is not a cause celebre’ simply because a washed up radio personality made some hateful remarks. We must be continually committed to bettering our minds, spirits, and bodies to live and act like free people that Minister Louis Farrakhan implored, “don’t want to live on the plantation no more.” Right now, the minds of Africans and African Americans must be awakened to the reality of what this nation truly is. America has never been republic for the people, by the people, of the people. It was forged in the fires foundations of hypocrisy and molded in inequality. The “people” referred to in the constitution were white, rich, and male protestants. We must not fail to cash the check that Dr. King and so many others attempted to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. “The problem,” framed over one hundred years ago by Frederick Douglass was whether the American people “have loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough to live up to their own constitution…”


Anonymous said...

Imus' comments have sparked fierce debate, not only among the Sharptons and Jacksons, but among white conservatives via their own talk shows. It is AMAZING to me how many white Americans have jumped on board with Imus, defending him and his comments.
The people speaking out in his defense blame Sharpton for Imus' firing, saying he bullied the network. That's the most alarming to me- they're not up in arms at his comments. They don't feel the complete repulsion that I do... the sadness in my heart that our country's cycle of hate continues.
White conservative talk show host Phil Valentine claims reverse racism. He says it's a double standard because black rappers can tip drill their way around, calling women hoes all they want. Valentine also quoted Michael Irvin, claiming racism against whites. He argues that White America isn't protesting, isn't suing. What he and others fail to realize is it's still not an equal playing field. White America isn't up in arms, they laugh when we say they can't dance, can't play sports... because at the end of the day, they're not oppressed. At the end of the day, they don't have to prove themselves. At the end of the day, they aren't questioned by law enforcement, they aren't pre-judged by society, lumped into stereotypes. Those are the perks that come along with the privileged majority. Are rappers entitled to slap the b*tches and pimp the hoes? No... but that doesn't excuse Imus either.

Veronica said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this blog. Racial tension never ended in America. Equality is a myth.

I question where the next generation of activist leadership is and whether or not they are being mentored appropriately or are they only taught to point the finger at the other race.

When will we stop calling Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson!?!?!?
I turn the volume down on them and raise my own voice.

This is another situation for African Americans to wake up and stop telling other people that they cannot use a word/phrase that we unfortunately quite often use in referring to one another. I believe that we as African Americans need to not only focus on what a white person publically says--first and foremost, we need to focus on ourselves . How can we be angry with a white person saying "Nappy Head H**s" when we constantly degrade our own race, culture, and women on a daily basis in our music to gain success. We poison and desensitize our culture. I am more angry with our own race because I expect more from us.

Don Imus's comment is inexcusable but like you said, this is a time where we need to begin to educate ourselves. It is not too late. We need to understand the derivation of the words we use and stop claiming them as, "endearing" and "it is different when we say it" And no one understands our silly antics of, "We can say THAT word but no one else can."

We should be committed to wanting to know more about our history and culture and take pride in it!

In order to address the degrading racial slurs that come out of the mouths of white people we must first start within our own race. Through our own actions and communication we display that it may not be right...but it's ok. If we don't believe that it is completely wrong and these words should not be said then, how can we expect another race to believe it?

What other races may say, we cannot control but we can control ourselves.
The "do as I say and not as I do" never worked. We need to get educated, get some control and restraint, and lead by example.

By the way...
Is anyone upset with Isaiah Thomas!?


Veronica said...

The comment I made about Isaiah Thomas--I digress.
I was under a different impression in regards to the comment he made about the "B" word and black women.

I don't completely agree with his comment but after much thought, I understand what he means when he said he is more offended when a white person calls a black woman a "B" than when a black man calls a black woman a "B".

It's not right...but I understand.

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Negrointellectual by Vernon C. Mitchell, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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