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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
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Society needs to stop defending racism

By Nicholas Pappas

“Nappy-headed hos.” It’s an achievement in insensitivity. In just two words (one hyphenated), Don Imus became both a racist and a sexist.

He also became unemployed. Sort of.

MSNBC announced on April 11 its decision to stop carrying his show. Well, it wasn’t its decision. It was Procter & Gamble’s, American Express’ and numerous others’ who pay to the order of. Although the color black called for a two-week suspension, the color green always speaks loudest. CBS followed suit yesterday afternoon.

Imus is a shock jock. He is offensive and has been for more than a decade on “Imus in the Morning.” If you think this was an isolated incident, you’re wrong. He referred to black columnist Bill Rhoden as a “New York Times quota hire.” He has consistently called Arabs “ragheads.” He calls women “skanks.” He’s made a living being insulting. And people listen.

Still, let’s leave Imus out of this for a second. For now, he is simply a fall guy, a foil for racial and sexual division.

Remember O.J.? He was the first fall guy. As time went on, it didn’t matter if he killed his wife or not. What mattered was his color. I recall reading a Time magazine after the verdict was announced. There was a picture of a barbershop–of white women hanging their heads in shame and black women dancing wildly. At that moment, I realized I didn’t “get it.” Without growing up black in America, I never fully will, and it is a mistake to believe otherwise. All you can do is try. An upper middle-class white male asking, “What’s the big deal?” just proves the point.

Left in the shadows is the misogyny, the labeling of these strong, successful women as “hos.” Seems small, but Imus has a long history of degrading women.

As much as we’d like to believe we have moved past the ideal of the 1950s housewife, we are still a long way from equality. And again the question is asked, “What’s the big deal?” Even today, a young girl is praised for being “cute.” A young boy is praised for being “smart.” Until you’ve been leered at, faced daily criticism based on your appearance or walked dark parking lots in fear of being raped, it’s hard to trust your opinion on the issue. These are women who reached a pinnacle and should be praised, not feel humiliated based on their looks.

Why as a society do we defend racism and misogyny? Hours after MSNBC’s announcement, there was growing outrage from supporters. If you are one of them, please leave the terms “free speech” and “Founding Fathers” out of further discussions. It’s not an argument to toss around like this is an elementary school food fight. Freedom of speech is about expressing diverse views without fear, not supporting oppression.

Don Imus will be OK. Don’t worry. In the end, he’ll still have a show, still have high cheekbones and, most importantly in America, still be rich. And people will listen, because popular entertainment is all about feeling more important than other people.

This is America, capitalist and competitive. It’s too bad we’re not on the same team.

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