Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Words matter

Regarding Don Imus' racist and sexist remarks about the talented women of the Rutgers basketball team:
Running commentary from Media Matters
Google News
Jesse Jackson on Keith Olbermann tonight...
"When you call women ho's ... that is the first step towards domestic violence"
"It's about mass misogynism"
"It's about race"
Spare me the comments on "he's not a racist but he said something that was racist." Ugly, dehumanizing, bigoted remarks have been Imus' stock in trade. This is not new. Do not minimize. It is a pattern of behavior that has needed to stop for a long time.
Nonetheless, we are quick to let ourselves off the hook. It is not just Imus. And demonizing him will not solve the problem. Will his dismissal be sufficient? No. Necessary, but not sufficient. The conversation needs to continue. Such behavior, while inexcusable, is not inexplicable (this one is a must read). We have given permission - implicitly or explicitly - for this type of language in our common life. Do not the the central issue fade from conversation just because the precipitating story has run through its news cycle - keep confronting it!
Let us not ignore or obscure the voices of the team members. We have given the voices of hate a significant pulpit, repeating those hateful words over and over again. With the endless repetitions of these comments, we keep revictimizing 10 human beings who have names and stories.
Speaking of absent voices - As Carol Jenkins points out, most of this news was broken by men or commentated on by men. Please take the time to read or listen to the comments of those against whom these comments were a direct insult. Please take the time to find comments by women journalists in both the mainstream and digital media, to supplement what has been in the forefront of public coverage.

You don't get too many opportunities to finally stand up for what you know is right. -
Essence Carlson

Racism and sexism have no place in our society. We cannot stand silent.
C. Vivian Stringer

More resources....
  • YWCA offers tools to communicate with Imus' producers. Don't forget, even though MSNBC has dropped their simulcast, as of right now, he is only on 2 weeks' suspension with CBS radio. Please get your voice out there and make it known that this cannot stand.
  • Also from the YWCA, 10 simple ideas to eliminate racism and 10 simple ideas to empower women
  •, from the Southern Poverty Law Center, offers free anti-bias resources. Including suggestions on responding to everyday bigotry - how to speak up during those uncomfortable encounters where someone makes an offensive statement.
  • The Birmingham Pledge, recognizing the dignity and worth of every individual. I challenge you to sign it.

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