Imus’ “Nappy-Headed” Comment

I watched some of the women’s NCAA basketball national championship game this past week. Congratulation to Pat Summitt and the Tennessee Lady Vols for winning their 7th national title. What I remember the most about this game, unfortunately, was Don Imus morning radio comment where he called the black Rutgers female players “nappy-headed hos.” I guess some people in society have not progressed as much as we like to think.  Below is the radio dialogue regarding the Rutgers players. Note how they even found a way to pull in the black movie director Spike Lee.

From the April 4 edition of MSNBC’s Imus in the Morning:

IMUS: So, I watched the basketball game last night between — a little bit of Rutgers and Tennessee, the women’s final.

ROSENBERG: Yeah, Tennessee won last night — seventh championship for [Tennessee coach] Pat Summitt, I-Man. They beat Rutgers by 13 points.

IMUS: That’s some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and –

McGUIRK: Some hard-core hos.

IMUS: That’s some nappy-headed hos there. I’m gonna tell you that now, man, that’s some — woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like — kinda like — I don’t know.

McGUIRK: A Spike Lee thing.

IMUS: Yeah.

McGUIRK: The Jigaboos vs. the Wannabes — that movie that he had.

IMUS: Yeah, it was a tough –

McCORD: Do The Right Thing.

McGUIRK: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

IMUS: I don’t know if I’d have wanted to beat Rutgers or not, but they did, right?

ROSENBERG: It was a tough watch. The more I look at Rutgers, they look exactly like the Toronto Raptors.

IMUS: Well, I guess, yeah.

RUFFINO: Only tougher.

McGUIRK: The [Memphis] Grizzlies would be more appropriate.

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33 Comments

Filed under Free Speech, Racism, Sports

33 responses to “Imus’ “Nappy-Headed” Comment

  1. Jaylon

    Hey, you are all about free speech and no censorship, right.

  2. Michael Smith

    Free speech yes, but a direct attack on a racial group’s make-up, that is different.

  3. No it’s not. Free speech is free speech. It’s not free speech until I don’t like it, or free speech until it makes me uncomfortable. Yes, his values are wrong, but the greatest thing about America is that we can TURN OFF THE RADIO SHOW. You don’t like, fine, but he can still say it, you just don’t have to listen. I don’t like it when people insult my faith at the public university I attend, but I can leave or stop listening. As much as these comments are completely disgusting, I have to support his and Rush Limbaugh’s and my insanely conservative family’s right to say WHATEVER they want, so that my right to do the same is protected.

  4. Michael Smith

    But such voice only adds to the power of white supremacy, hate, and views of blacks. And women as well — to call college girls a “ho” is not free speech. Free speech should add to knowledge and thought.

  5. Yes, I do not believe in censorship and do believe people have a right to express their views and thoughts. It is a part of living in a free society that ask people to be independent thinkers. But, people who find flaws or problems with one’s views or expression should challenge them in a public forum. For example, if a person does not like what I write on my blog or that of others, they should use their intellect to publicly engage in discourse to offer a reason to challenge my point or that of others.

    If people would engage more in public discourse, unpopular views and expressions would lose their validity — assuming that people do not see merit in them. I know of people who currently read this blog and who rather than engage in discourse with me so that I might help them better understand things they cannot, “they” prefer to stay mute with me . I find it to be anti – intellectual for people to take on this perspective. If people have a problem with the KKK, challenge their ideas so that people will see the flaws in their right to have such a free voice.

    A professor of mine from college addressed this same topic on his Harding University blog recently.

  6. Robert Thomas

    I agree with you about public discourse, anti-intellectualism, and allowing people to formulate their ideas, but I am not sure I can agree with groups having freedoms such as the KKK, Panthers, or groups that have nothing to offer to society.

  7. Jaylon

    Carson,

    Excellent point!!! I did not think about it that way until you framed your point so well.

    Robert – you cannot have it either or. I like wht Kristi had to say regarding her faith in Christ, she has teachers who do not believe in Christ, but it is up to her to decide the merit in their argument. She does not have to accept it.

  8. Robert, this issue is why people hate the ACLU.
    They look to protect the voice of both the KKK and panther members. It is all about the 1st Amend.

    Hey, have you seen Ricky Lake of late. She likes having both groups on stage together.

  9. Jason Johns

    Hey, he got two weeks of suspension to think about it.

  10. Hmm, not really free speech then?

  11. Matt S

    The funniest thing I read during all this was in reference to Imus offering up his ranch projects that invite kids of all colors as proof he was not racist. That may very well be, but a blog commenter referred to Imus’ use of these for damage control as “charity offsets.” :)

  12. I am not sure I would have suspended Imus unless the network feared damage to its reputation or ratings. But true, not really free speech. I heard a lady say “why do we allow rappers to say such things without punishment, but we all are ready to toss Imus for such a comment.” Of course, the difference is in who Imus was directly talking about.

    People try too hard to prove they are not racists; in doing so Matt S, they appear to be racists.

    I find myself defending Imus at times.

  13. You know, I don’t agree with him. I don’t think that kind of talk about anyone is necessary or right or good, but he probably doesn’t have the same standard for judging speech that I have and therefore, here in America, he should be able to say what he wants without fear of suspension from his job, especially over something like that. I wonder how upset the Rutgers players spoken about are. I mean, sure, a bunch of poeple who were listening to the show got upset, but do you think it really affected the ladies from Rutgers or are we just overly sensitive?

  14. Matt S

    Imus must be thrilled to be lectured on verbal decorum by Al Sharpton.

    The suspension smacks of his employers seeing which way the wind was blowing. If they really were offended by his comments, they would have suspended him the same day or next without public pressure.

  15. Why is it Sharpton and Jackson talking when a matter of race emerges? I need to speak up.

  16. Jason Johns

    Please speak up. I am done with them.

  17. Ben Smith

    Although his comment was a joke in poor taste, i agree with Carson that his statements are protected by the first amendment. However, that does not protect him from any kind of professional repricussions, and i am glad to see him suspended for two weeks. So what if his superiors didnt suspend him until public opinion was raised against it? The fact that public opinion changed minds and actually did something- this seems like proof that free speech works both ways.

  18. Ben,

    It does work both ways. Hey, you know this better than anyone — I recall a recent campus publication that, well, I will leave it alone.

  19. James Smith

    Amen Ben!

  20. Matt S

    Point taken, Ben. The eventual suspension does show that the market/society can police itself without government stepping in.

  21. Matt S

    Wow… sports writer Jason Whitlock put up a great piece on this topic. Here is an excerpt:

    “Thank you, Don Imus. You’ve given us (black people) an excuse to avoid our real problem.

    You’ve given Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson another opportunity to pretend that the old fight, which is now the safe and lucrative fight, is still the most important fight in our push for true economic and social equality.

    You’ve given Vivian Stringer and Rutgers the chance to hold a nationally televised recruiting celebration expertly disguised as a news conference to respond to your poor attempt at humor.

    Thank you, Don Imus. You extended Black History Month to April, and we can once again wallow in victimhood, protest like it’s 1965 and delude ourselves into believing that fixing your hatred is more necessary than eradicating our self-hatred.

    The bigots win again.”

    Read. The Whole. Thing. It’s at kansascityDOTcom. Eddie can post the link if he wants.

  22. Irvin, Thomas

    Question #1:

    If Don Imus was himself black, would we care about who he calls a ho?

    Question #2:
    Is it the fact that an old white male used the parlance of pop/hiphop culture that makes everyone so upset?

    Question #3:
    Is public outcry for discipline and punishment the same as progress?
    So to say, would progress be letting Don Imus, Star & Buck Wild, The Radio Chick, Opie and Anthony, Howard Stern, Rusch Libough, Anne Coulter or anyother opionated TV/Radio/Public personality, slip throught the cracks of culture be mor beneficial to society as a whole?

    My asking this is based on the assumption that all the people I see in times square in NY everyday, and all the people I hear on the streets of Newark NJ, Where I live, and am a student at Rutgers, ussing terms like nappy head and hos, are not the ones setting the pace for justice and righteousness.

    I decided just now to look up the word “Nappy” in the oxford english dictionary.
    Here is what it had to say:

    Nappy, adj:
    Cf. Middle French, French bourru, lit. ‘fuzzy, fleecy’ (1555; 1584 in vin bourru unfermented white wine, perh. with allusion to its opacity owing to the presence of lees).

    1. a. Of ale, beer, etc.: having a head, foaming; heady, strong; (also occas. in figurative context) of or relating to ale or beer of this kind. Also in extended use.

    2. U.S. slang (freq. derogatory.). Of hair, esp. that of a black person: frizzy.

    1997 Jrnl. Blacks in Higher Educ. No. 17. 92 (caption) Always the big joke was that black people were big-lipped, bug-eyed, nappy-headed, and stupid.

    1971 Black World June 71/2 Her hair..was in the bushy style that the freedom riders had brought. They called it ‘natural’; Bojack called it nappy.

  23. Response 1: Not if he were a rap star
    Response 2: No; it is beacuse he spoke directly to an identified group, where as rappers do not.

    I think this is a wake up call for Imus who has been doing this for years. I think he has the right to speak his mind, however, when public outcry demands a shift, it is up to the organization to decide its interest.

  24. Melissa C

    Its necessary to actually read this dialogue! I am in know way in agreement with the comments made, but I do think that all parties involved must be held responsible. If we read the actual dialogue, Imus, though not pardoned, only made his “nappy-headed hos” comment as a quick off the shoulder response to McGuirk’s primary “hard-core hos” comment. Now, I as not only an African-American, but also as a woman, find more offense in the use of the word ‘ho’ in the place of “woman” or “girl” than I do as being referred to as nappy-headed. Furthermore, if we read the dialogue we see that Imus made no other remark in such a light, but rather continuosly tried at least 3 times to redirect the conversation to the subject of the actual game, while the others on the show continued to make ridiculous racist and sexist remarks (referring to Spike Lee and also comparing the women on the team to males). Now, I do believe that Imus should have been checked by the network before a conversation of this nature could have been aired due to earlier racist comments he has made, but in this particular conversation he is clearly the LEAST at fault, but the most highly attacked.

  25. Stewart

    The Spike Lee part of the exchange didn’t seem meant to be an insult to him as much as a clumsy attempt by cultural illiterates to reference his work.

    The people speaking were obviously not all that familiar with his films. While “Do the Right Thing” does have a sequence showing several black/asian/italian characters saying hateful things about other races to the camera, it served the purpose of allowing the undertones of racial tension to bubble to the surface and make an appearance before they violently reappeared in the film’s conclusion.
    The comments made by those on the Imus show were unfunny, offensive, and very, very stupid.

  26. Matt S,

    Is that the correct web address you listed? I could not find the article. Will you post it for us then I will link it.

  27. You know, this is mostly just proving the thing that our parents always told us, “If you ignore them, they’ll stop.” It’s especially true when it comes to anything that the media does. You see, ratings are what keep them going and if everyone ignores them, they’ll stop. I promise.

  28. Matt S

    Here is the proper link to that Jason Whitlock article about the Imus flap:

    http://www.kansascity.com/182/story/66339.html

    Whitlock used to be on ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters” and I think he’s subbed on “Pardon the Interruption” before. I enjoy his take on sports and society.

  29. James Smith

    Wow!!! Thanks Matt. Jason’s article was great.

    “If you ignore them, they’ll stop.” Well stated.

  30. Will Chandler

    nappy headed means a person who just woke from a nap and has tangled hair there for being nappy headed…. the public blow things out of proportian at every slight sign of racism.

  31. That is freedom of speech but we have freedom of speech until it suspends someone else’s rights. Those girls could sue for defamation, not so much for the nappy headed, but for the ho’s. Either way McGuirk did start the conversation off with the “Hardcore Ho’s” so even though they were both wrong Imus is the one who gets in trouble and fired, I believe they should both be fired and done away with, but this isn’t the first time Imus has made a crude/inapropriate remark. I guess this was just his last string.

  32. You don’t really need or want that lifestyle, it might hurt y’all slowly more…….Just tell him you
    don’t wanna repeat something your not too proud of z7uas.

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