Yesterday Don Imus lost his job. The world is safe again.
The interesting thing about this media blitz is that I don’t think it is really that big an issue. Don Imus said something on the airwaves that offended people. He said it in a joking fashion and wasn’t trying to be malicious or hateful. He apologized for the comments and I believe that he was sincere. I think the guy made a slip and maybe didn’t even realize it at the time. I don’t think he deserves to lose his job over it.
The television station dropped his simulcast first. Sponsors pulled out from the radio program and the radio company realized that his show might not be profitable anymore. So today, they fired him.
Is it fair? I don’t think so. I think that he was an easy target for a lot of reasons. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have been speaking to the media about his a lot since last week. I think that there are bigger problems in the media that they are not addressing –mainly, the treatment of black women in rap lyrics. Rappers say much worse things and degrade women in their songs and videos. And worse still is that children are exposed to this every single day. How many people were listening to Imus and how many of them were as impressionable as children?
I grew up listening to hip-hop music and it took me a while to figure out that some of the things I was listening to were not accurate representations. The problem isn’t with the rap music industry per se; it is with the education of the youth. My parents always told me not to believe everything that I saw on television. I began to understand that television was “fake” and certain things on it were not meant to be taken so seriously. It took me a long time to figure out that rap lyrics and videos should be taken the same way. Why did it take me so long to learn this?
I guess the real question is, what do these images and lyrics do to the impressionable youth? Do they encourage racism and sexism? I mean we have all heard lyrics were racist or sexist. These images are everywhere; on radio, television, CDs, and MP3s. So what do we do?
Do we realize that this is a societal problem and one that needs to be addressed? Or do we continue to do nothing, as we have been, hoping that it will go away? It won’t go away. Hip-hop is almost over thirty years old now. It is here to stay. And quite frankly, blaming rap music is equal to scapegoating Don Imus for societal problems that have taken us so far astray.
Racism and sexism are problems that have been around for much longer that Don Imus or hip-hop music and they will continue to be here if we continue to let them. I know that sounds way too simple and idealistic but I think that it is true. We’ve gone astray and need help. This is a societal problem and needs to be solved as a society. I’ll do my part. Are you doing yours?