Don Imus - No Comparison -- by Dru Hepkins, April 2007
Rejoinder to the New York Post article, "The Civility Squad skirts the rap rats", by Michelle Malkin, April 11, 2007
Michelle, I'm writing in response to your article in the New York Post. I'm not sure if the publications that I stand on will stretch wide enough or ring loud enough; so maybe you'll have the opportunity to read this, or maybe you won't.
You raised an interesting paradigm, criticizing Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson for demanding Imus' firing; while Hip Hop stars continuously use perverse and offensive language toward women, including the frequent use of the n-word which goes unchallenged by Black leaders. I'll agree that rap music does have issues that our community needs to contend with. However, to expose that as a reason to go easier on Imus, or to suggest some sort of hypocrisy from Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson isn't applicable and it's in poor taste.
On a very small scale, I'm a (black) music producer and writer who is also dejected by the lack of substance and class in Hip Hop today. As an artist, I always felt directly affected by the dummied down "pimp" mentality of today's urban music. The exaltation of these types of artists impede and box out artists who may be a little more talented and a little less negative. Even though I'm no fan of the cliché negativity in rap that's seemingly customary nowadays, I still find the comparisons of Don Imus and Hip Hop stars to be utterly ridiculous.
Be it positive or negative, rap artists manifest a form of musical poetry. Poetry, art and music should always be judged differently and with less bowdlerization. Unlike TV and radio personalities, rap stars don't typically have degrees in communications and aren't entrusted to speak to the masses on a daily basis. Rap stars sell their version of art and we choose to support it or not. We don't put them on a public podium in which they're expected to entertain people each day through conversation, and then listen to them spit out malicious and hurtful opinions----many times without consequence or punitive actions taken. We don't give them an audience and listen to them single groups of people out and viciously make fun of the way they look, or ridicule them with old, tired stereotypes. Rappers have a different degree of expectation and responsibility.
The message and careless use of offensive words in Hip Hop is a problem, but it's also coming mostly from young entertainers who came up from the streets. A well known, old, rich, white man-----backed by major corporations----should be one of the last people to ever dare insult a group of young black woman publicly with street lingo. It's ugly. For an older, iconic white man to humiliate a group of young female students during their moment of bittersweet acclamation is an offense that even Imus understands now, was repulsive.
To try and reduce the situation, or criticize the parties demanding satisfactory punitive action by comparing it to whatever is going on within our own race is extremely audacious. When rap stars use the n-word, or use phrases that are demeaning to women, it's negative, but it's still within the constraints of an art form-----and it's general. Imus singled out a specific group of young women and fired a personalized racist and misogynistic direct missile. With all due respect Michelle, how a comparison could be made or why anyone would feel the need to do so is beyond me. What Imus chose to say and to whom was deplorable----point blank. Those young, female athletes and students worked very hard and didn't deserve that belittling attack. Drawing maps of blame in other directions is pointless and absurd. Imus isn't a twenty-something year old rap star with a chain dangling from his neck. He's an old, influential white man with a show that had a huge following. I honestly wouldn't want Imus' firing. I'd prefer him to return to his show a changed man. Nonetheless, at his age and in this era, Imus should've been a little more responsible. His punishment should be expected and reprehension shouldn't be directed anywhere else.
When you're in the business of hurting people's feelings---- and you're allowed to, it's a no brainer that you might go too far eventually. Being racially insensitive shouldn't continuously be passed off as comedy for adults over 18 years of age. We keep enabling ourselves to find humor in making another race or group of people seem ridiculous. In the bigger picture with a wider field of view-----and with spiritual eyes, Imus is making his own race seem ridiculous with what he says, as are his advocates that step forth in his defense.
I was once a very innocent child with colorblind eyes. I always grew up around various ethnicities. However, reality has attacked my innocence and I was forced to come to terms with the fact the many people may not like me for reasons that can't be changed. I'm very proud of what I am in addition to being a good person. I don't deserve to be insulted unnecessarily-----with the insult allowed, excused and pardoned by major networks; a paradigm that subconsciously belts you with an additional pimp slap to the other side of your face. I don't have any children yet, but I wouldn't want to bring them into a world in which my daughters can publicly be called "nappy headed ho's" by an influential media figure, and then have powerful white politicians come around to tell everyone to give him a break because he's sorry. And on top of it all, I'm forced to read articles like yours Michelle. After the expected social "ass covering"; the stern and seemingly sincere disapproval of Imus' transgression, the article basically reads, "Oh give 'im a break. Look they do it to themselves." Well I don't Michelle.
My race has an extremely unique existence----an existence that has gone through all types of adversity throughout American history. To hate is a choice and no one has to like us if their heart doesn't want to. However, everyone does have to learn to respect us. Every person alive and breathing has their own identity deserving of respect without race as a factor. And Michelle, if anyone is given a broadcasted platform and uses it for hate or dismissive rhetoric; it shouldn't be supported and thrown back in the faces of the offended. The rap scene just isn't a related issue.
Michelle, I respect you and your achievements. I'm not nearly on your level of experience, and as a fellow writer, I respect what you do. I also understand that there are times you'll choose to follow the path of good journalism despite possible confrontation; exposing issues and topics that attract readers and pose interesting arguments. But your article that makes an example of (black) rap stars being just as or more in the wrong than Imus' latest transgression just doesn't sit well with me. To pass judgment on the Reverends Sharpton and Jesse Jackson for going after Imus and not the rap stars in our own community is a low blow that still doesn't remove any liability from Imus. I'm sure they recognize the rap scene's problems too, but surely you understand that there is a significant difference. Women of their own race aren't pierced with the same hate and condescension.
With Imus----we know who he was talking to and he is sorry; He's mainly sorry that this time, most of the people, including his show sponsors weren't laughing with him. I'm sorry that in 2007 after someone drew first blood, the black community can't even demand that justice be done without additional insults, scrutiny, and opposition.