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Don Imus' Privilege: Violence Against Women of Color

Apr 09, 2007 — Categories:

Violence against women takes many forms. Radio personality Don Imus made his contribution last week when he referred to the mostly African American Rutgers University basketball team as “nappy headed hos.”

Violence against women takes many forms. Radio personality Don Imus made his contribution last week when he referred to the mostly African American Rutgers University basketball team as “nappy headed hos.”

Imus is referring to the Rutgers University Women’s Basketball team who finished second in the NCAA Tournament last weekend. These are some of the finest student athletes in the country whom he targeted. And why?? Because he could, and he could because they are women of color. His remarks are racist and sexist. We didn’t hear any similar comments about the University of Florida Gator men’s team that just won the men’s NCAA tournament.

This is not about free speech or being politically correct. This is about the power of speech to create and sustain attitudes which give permission to violent behaviors which target women, and particularly women of color. When men who have a public platform talk about women like this, they encourage and excuse men’s violence towards women.

I agree with Rev. Al Sharpton who said: “Somewhere we must draw the line in what is tolerable in mainstream media. We cannot keep going through offending us and then apologizing and then acting like it never happened. Somewhere we’ve got to stop this.” It seems that wealthy celebrities have a platform from which to preach their stupidity, offend whomever they choose, and then plead, as Imus did, “I’m not a bad person. I just said a bad thing.” Enough of these actions without consequences. “I’m sorry, honey. I didn’t mean to hurt you,” echoes again and again in the lives of battered women. There are consequences and they are serious. It’s time that those who misuse the privilege of public speech lose those privileges. Women’s lives depend on it.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute
www.faithtrustinstitute.org

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