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The Imus Controversy

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These young women are valedictorians, future doctors, classical musicians, even a Girl Scout, said Rutgers women's basketball coach Vivian Stringer yesterday, as her NCAA national championship finalists stood beside her for the world to see.

But radio's aging shock jock Don Imus famously called them "nappy-headed hos" last week. Now he's fighting for his job. He's called Colin Powell a "weasel" and New Mexico's governor a "fat sissy." But this is different.

The hatchet is out for Imus. And the country's asking: where is the line here?

This hour On Point: race, the Imus firestorm, and the women of Rutgers.

Quotes from the Show:

"It's been framed in the media as a race debate but it's also about gender as well because both the National Association of Black Journalists has called for Don Imus to resign and also the National Organization for Women. ... So, it's really a controversy about race and sex." Christopher John Farly

"This is another example in a long trajectory of recent examples that reveal both the deep illiteracy about [the] cultural and political history [of racism and sexism in America] and the particular lives that many African-Americans continue to lead and why these kinds of statements in the mass media, particularly by whites, but in general is something that is really troubling, and upsetting and problematic. The lack of literacy is what keeps reproducing this dynamic." Tricia Rose

"When we're talking about gender oppression, about racism, about homophobia, about classism, all these different kinds of issues that continue to divide people in this country — a lot of folks have no idea where they're getting this information from, where it started, and they end up regurgitating some very ignorant stuff." Kevin Powell

"[This controversy] is not just about Don Imus, it's about a large society that thinks it's ok to be sexist, racist, homophobic and classist, all in the name of making commentary humor." Kevin Powell

"It's not excusable for black people, hip-hop artists, for anyone to denigrate women." Listener from Boston

Guests:

Christopher John Farly, editor for the Wall Street Journal;
Tricia Rose, professor of Africana Studies at Brown University and author of "Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America", "Longing to Tell: Black Women Talk About Sexuality and Intimacy"

Damali Ayo, conceptual artist, comedienne and author of " How to Rent a Negro"

Kevin Powell, poet, activistst, historian and author of "Someday We'll All Be Free."

This program aired on April 11, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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