Thursday, 12 April 2007

Don Imus, Hip Hop Culture and a Sri Lankan Stroll

The controversy over Don Imus’ comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team has dominated headlines in NYC and the US in general this past week. While his comments were disgusting, at least a real issue was being discussed by the media instead of some silly celebrity event. After protests and pressure led by Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, MSNBC dropped the simulcast of his show on Wednesday and CBS finally fired him today.

Imus has apologised profusely but his punishment is deserved. If he had made this sort of comment about another prominent New York minority group, he would have been immediately fired. It is time that people like Imus realise that you cannot make nasty, racist and sexist remarks, then apologise and expect life to go on like normal. Imus and his morning show crew have repeatedly made similar remarks, including calling African American sports columnist Bill Rhoden a "New York Times quota hire" and African American PBS anchor Gwen Ifill a "cleaning lady", often referring to Arabs as “ragheads”, suggesting that Serena and Venus Williams were animals better suited to pose for National Geographic than Playboy, and stating that Palestinians mourning the death of Yasser Arafat were "stinking animals" upon whom the Israelis "ought to drop the bomb right there, kill 'em all right now...".

However, in all the uproar over Imus’ comments, what needs to be highlighted is that many black people use terms like those Imus used and today’s hip hop culture is synonymous with words like “nigger”, “hos” and “bitches”. The artists who have made these words acceptable need to be criticised and whipped into shape just as much as Imus. Imus should never have said what he said, but hip hop culture has in many ways set the standard for words like “hos” to become part of conventional vocabulary. Will Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson now lead a campaign to reform the hip hop industry? I doubt it.

Sri Lanka clinically disposed of New Zealand today. The Black Caps have been playing excellent cricket this World Cup but met up with a Sri Lanka team that came out with all guns blazing and once they had gained a stranglehold in the first over, refused to let it go. Interestingly, the Sri Lankans were without their key bowler, Lasith Malinga. At this point it seems as if the semi-finalists will be Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and South Africa. After being brushed aside by the Aussies and barely winning against Bangladesh, I cannot see England beating South Africa to gain a semi-final berth. On current form, it also seems as if the Aussies will win the World Cup for a third consecutive time. Can Sri Lanka stop them? I hope so!

1 comment:

Mr. C said...

Point well made about the language that pervades through hip-hop culture, which as you rightly say has seeped into the mainstream. To denegrate women and people of your own culture and then claim sexism and racism of others, at the very least confuses people but at worst smacks of hypocrisy. This is a long long way from the orign of rap as an expression of rage against the political establishment to the self denigrating and hate filled
(s)exploitation that it has now become in the name of entertainment.