Imus: Racist or Mimic?

Karol Collymore

Alright, lets face it. "Nappy headed hos" is not an original Don Imus term. I've heard plenty of hip-hop artists make the same references thousands of times. I've sung along, danced, and thanked the good Lord that I had my hair straightened before I went to the party where the "Nappy headed hos" song is blasting on the stereo. I'd be hard pressed to believe he would have used that phrase if he hadn't heard it repeated several times before. I'll also mention this proves Imus is a closet hip-hop listener - he just rolls his window up when someone Black drives by.

Alas, Mr. Imus wasn't being funny, he wasn't rapping along to his favorite tune. He calling a team of female athletes nappy headed hos. What had they done to deserve that? This is a team of mostly Black women lead by a Black coach who play excellent women's basketball. What Don Imus said was racist, sexist and intolerable. But he also got that phrase from Black people.

The biggest problem for me is I don't know who gets most of the responsibility for what has transpired. Is it a part of the music industry that has created negative stereotypes of Black women or is it the record company owners who see this type of music as a cash cow for them? There was a wonderful Independent Lens that addressed this exact question. But now this destructive vernacular has spilled over to the chattering classes and it leaves me feeling exposed, and rubbing my newly exposed, nappy scalp.

What is most evident - and often denied by well meaning people of all colors - is that racism still exists in all parts of a politically correct America. We don't know what to do with nappy heads, tinges of Spanish language in and English speaking nation, Asians that don't do well in school, and Whites that just don't understand what the rest of us are still so upset about. Until we have a real conversation about race, class, and gender, we can never get above this pervasive underbelly of our culture. I am willing to be honest and I know there are others that are also willing to take part in the conversation. Let us be open about the issues we all still know are there but we are afraid to talk about. I'll start. I sing along to songs that are degrading to Black people, produced and recorded by some Black artists. I don't want to "back that ass up," and I think it's offensive, but I'll buy the CD because its good dance music. Until recently, I've insisted on straightening my hair to fit in to what America deems as professional and acceptable. I was afraid for my boss to see my newly nappy hair because it may be perceived as "ghetto." White people some times upset me, anger me, and scare me, all at the same time, but I do my best to not be seen as a rap video stereotype. What do you want to say?

  • multi colored human being (unverified)

    I have a feeling that if all the Black people had to go back to Africa and the Asains back to asia and the arabs back to the middle east, they would all come back here thankful to have a chance in life to prosper & be FREE. Remember, the WHITE people of europe invented this land of oppurtunity and they did it the same way as everyone else was at the time (Africa STILL has slavery). But over 200 years later-Africa-Middle East and much of asia, for some reason those people haven't done squat to be FREE. Even the Iraqi's, while we spend Billions to help them, are to brainwashed (just like the Mexicans) to get control of their own life. Is that still the White mans fault? Bill Cosby doesn't think so. And the 10 Hispanic Billionaires in Mexico know it isn't our fault, including Carlos Slim, the 3rd richest Man in the world per Forbes magazine.

    IMUS IS A FAR LEFT LIBERAL RACIST PIG, why is anybody giving him any cred? You have just increased his ratings dummy.

  • Mike Austin (unverified)

    Listen up. The man's a business man. Might it be possible that the man says these things because he knows that certain groups will raise a stink, which will get picked up by the media, which will give him publicity, which will drive listeners to his radio station, which will increase advertising revenue, which will increase profits?

    The notion that Imus is a far left liberal racist pig is just the stupidest nonsense; the man is quite clearly a conservative businessman.

  • (Show?)

    What do I think?

    I think that I've heard - and said - worse when among friends.

    But that doesn't lessen my anger at Imus.

    What's said among friends who trust each other's hearts is one thing. What's said in a publc forum - a crowded bar, a radio show - is entirely another. That may sound like hypocricy, but I don't think so.

    Imus is supposed to be an expert. He's supposed to know what is and isn't OK to say in public, based on his 40 year career of supposedly tapping into the memes of the day. But apparently, he's a lot more clueless than most people I know.

    His apology was pathetic. What I heard is based on the idea that he shouldn't have put down those girls "while they were at the pinnacle of athletic achievement." Does that mean his words would have been OK if shouted out the window of a pickup truck on a Friday night? Seems like he thinks so. He didn't apologize for the racism or the sexism, he apologized for disrespect of accomplished athletes. That's not remotely the same thing (even though it's important in its own right.)

    Imus went on Sharpton's show at his own request, from what I understand, and Sharpton was gracious enough to grant the request and engage in a discussion. Now people are complaining that Sharpton isn't Christian enough, because he won't forgive him? What a crock. Sharpton doesn't owe Imus a damn thing.

    Karol, there might be bigger issues, but I disagree that now is the time to open that up. When somebody steps so clearly across a line, I'd say the appropriate thing is to address that issue on its own merits. When a prominent person crosses a boundary that is unacceptable to a broad swathe of society, I think the appropriate thing to do is to take advantage of that rare moment of wide consensus to tell that person - and anybody else who's listening - exactly what is "over the line."

    Not to say I disagree that your angle needs to be discussed - only that using the Imus incident as a launching point for it would be a waste of what could otherwise be a moment of widespread clarity.

  • Garrett (unverified)

    He's a shock jock. Figure it out. This is really a Bill Simmons quote in a nutshell but lets be honest. If you take anyone who is +60 or so and they are a TV personality they are eventually going to say something that is deemed insensitive to some culture/race. Look...I am from the South and my grandma is 94. She refers to African Americans as colored folk. I cringe when I hear her say it but her best friend in her home (they finally made her go to one even though she's still fighting it) is a african american woman. Thats just how it was for them. Older people say stuff that is racially/sexually offensive all the time. They don't mean it personally they just grew up much differently that we did. Imus is old...he's a shock jock and he said something stupid which he realized, after someone explained to him what he said, later was very offensive. He should probably be fired but I understand giving him a pass. If he does something like this again shut him off but I've heard plenty of racially/sexually offensive things from older broadcasters on network tv/radio to be too P.C. about everything.

  • K Fish (unverified)

    Hi Karol,

    I think Sarah Jones gave us the the definitive comment on misogyny in rap music.

    But I agree with you about that conversation, particularly around race. In my experience, racism is not something people like to discuss in Portland, or even know how to discuss. It's like when I was a little kid and I asked my teachers which side Oregon took in the civil war. Can you believe they all told me Oregon was neutral? End of story. As if we were, I don't know, Switzerland.

    I think the silence is dangerous, more dangerous than idiot radio hosts and wingnut trolls and "moderate" Republicans who ride the race train through the primary. Portland is full of nice, progressive, justice loving folks. So why aren't we talking?

  • ellie (unverified)

    I'm afraid he's just another in a long line of people who believe any publicity (good or bad) is good publicity. Maybe he's jealous of Ann Coulter... of course, he actually seems to be attempting to offer an apology, rather than a mock apology like Coulter.

    In my idea of a perfect world, people would just stop listening to him. Firing him probably wouldn't accomplish much -- he'd get more press and probably get picked up by another distributor.

  • Joe12Pack (unverified)

    Imus says some boneheaded, offensive stuff, but have you ever listened to his show? That's the kind of back & forth shtick they do. He should not have said it, but I don't think there was malicious intent interlaced in his thoughtless, stupid comments. Apologize, explain yourself and move on. The last thing he should have done was to go groveling to so-called "black leaders" like Al Sharpton. That's not a whole lot different than a minority member crawling to David Duke for forgiveness after cracking wise on white stereotypes.

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    I don't think there was malicious intent...

    But isn't that just the point? It'd be bad if he were deliberately thinking "yeah, let's say some racist shit and piss off a bunch of people" -- but it's substantially worse when he fails to understand that what he's saying racist, sexist, and horrible.

    BTW, thanks for posting this Karol. I haven't found a video link yet, but I watched the entire press conference with the Rutgers coach. I don't think I've seen a statement about racism that's more profound, more compelling, more interesting, and more intelligent than hers -- at least in a long time.

    I don't know jack about Rutgers women's basketball, but starting today: I'm a huge fan.

  • ws (unverified)

    I know who he is, but I don't listen to Imus's show, or any of those radio talk shows. Just too much desperate, self indulgent B.S.. Still, I have to marvel at the energy vortex that's been created around this character.

    I heard the clip of Imus saying the nappy headed ho line. I thought to myself, really, you've got to be kidding. He and his comment are just too stupid to attach much significance to at all. Dude's on the radio everyday. I don't know...maybe he just gets tired playing with himself, gets bored, loses his concentration and happens to let off a big stinker once in awhile.

    A guy like that, making those kind of idiotic comments is not the kind of person we have to worry too much about saying them. Offensive, but insubstantial. It's kind of a package deal. That's why, if asked, I'd have to reccommend not buying it.

    Now, Bush, Cheney, Condi, people like that, is another situation all together.

  • Madam Hatter (unverified)

    Hey, I'm a middle-aged white girl and I was offended by Imus' comments. I was raised by parents who always used the "N" word - but even they understand that what might have been common usage at one time is no longer acceptable - especially in public!

    And I don't care what rappers and some others say or call themselves and each other. My kids used to call everyone "dude" too... doesn't mean I'm going to say it or I expect some old dufus to use it repeatedly on the air. And "dude" isn't even offensive!

    Furthermore, while I hate the common reference to all women as "bitches" or "ho's" that abounds in rap and hip hop, it's slightly more acceptable to me that they refer to ALL women that way. Why did Imus choose to refer to this particluar group of women as "ho's" and not all others? THAT is the prejudicial aspect of this, IMHO.

    Calling these gifted, ambitious and successful college educated athletes "nappy-headed ho's" minimizes everything these young women of color have strived for their entire lives. Lumping them in with the girls (black AND white) that are popping their booties on these videos is beyond insulting. It's like comparing Nancy Pelosi to Brittney Spears. Or, more like comparing Lance Armstrong to Eminem. (And I really like Eminem!)

  • Phil Jones (unverified)

    I, for one, am shocked at how many people pretend to be shocked at the shocking statements of a shock jock who has been saying shocking things on the air for many years.

    I wonder if mainstream media will give as much publicity to the next hip-hop performer who uses similar langueage in a performance. Somehow, I doubt it. There is definitely a double standard when it comes to racial slurs.

  • (Show?)

    Stings when someone calls you a dummy - ouch. I want to say that I wanted to start a much needed, ongoing conversation. That's all. I don't think Imus should be fired, although I did take his comments personally as an owner of a nappy head. He's a "shock jock," that's his job. I also acknowledge that there are responsibilities on all races for this conversation. Just because laws have been passes, eras are over, doesn't mean the conversation doesn't need to continue. My good friend Doug said to me last night, we need to talk it into the ground until this s$%t isn't important anymore. There are honest grievances and there are overblown claims, but at the heart of it lies a very important discourse that should keep going.

  • Dan Petegorsky (unverified)

    I’ll leave it to others to talk about the dynamics of hip hop culture – though I’m not sure what “double standard” we’re talking about here: consumers of “gangsta rap” are largely white, so in both cases major entertainment industry corporations are profiting by marketing products that perpetuate degrading and stereotypical racist and sexist images to predominantly white, male audiences.

    Taking up Karol’s challenge, though, let me tell a personal story: I never watch or listen to Don Imus’s show. But while I was on the road last fall, I happened to flip on the TV one morning in my hotel room, and it was tuned in to Imus’ MSNBC show. They were discussing the Blind Boys of Alabama and Imus was mouthing off about some past incident where his show’s management was apparently reluctant to book them.

    Imus essentially moved to portray this as religiously motivated, and in a flash, the “conversation” degenerated into unabashed anti-Semitic attacks on the “Jewish management,” who were described as “money grubbing” and so on, all with lots of chuckling and “jokes” comparing Imus to Mel Gibson.

    Though I might be used to this kind of trash on am radio, I was actually stunned to see it on a nationally broadcast “mainstream” tv show, and immediately wrote a letter to MSNBC, which, incidentally, never received a reply.

    In other words, the current flare up is by no means an isolated incident but part of a pattern. And I fail to see why the fact that other media or performers say the same nasty things in any way excuses Imus’ behavior or the media’s tolerance of it.

    Jewish culture, for example, thrives on self-deprecating humor that plays on stereotypical anti-Semitic tropes. Does that in any way excuse anti-Semitism? When I was growing up, alongside the biting and sharply political satire of Lenny Bruce sophomoric jokes making fun of “Jewish American Princesses” (or JAP jokes, as they were called – very much along the lines of contemporary blonde jokes, but with an ethnic edge to them) were commonplace. They were told most often by Jewish boys like me.

    Now, if anything that genre was a sad reflection on prevailing sexist attitudes inside and outside the Jewish community – and a commitment to challenging anti-Semitism requires challenging those attitudes. But there was a profound difference between my telling those jokes among my friends and published or broadcast remarks denigrating Jews in tones that essentially wished us all back into the ovens.

    Let’s not play games here. As Adele Stan put it, “When a white man sexualizes his verbal assault on a black woman, he's summoning the very worst of our nation's history -- the most egregious and largely undiscussed aspect of plantation slavery, the sexual abuse of slaves by white masters and overseers.”

    The fact that Imus has made similar attacks on other strong and successful black women like Venus and Serena Williams or Gwen Ifill only reinforces the real intent of such remarks: to put these women in their place. When a history of violent degradation is summoned, it is not just a reflection of the past but a reconstruction and reinforcement of the threat of violence in the present as well.

  • (Show?)

    PS: My Boss so SO cool and loves my newly nappy hair. I was scared but I had no reason to be because he's SO awesome. :)

  • The Problem (unverified)

    Just so we don't lose sight of the forest, here's a brief clip from Human Rights Watch: The disproportionate representation of black Americans in the U.S. criminal justice system is well documented.17 Blacks comprise 13 percent of the national population, but 30 percent of people arrested, 41 percent of people in jail,18 and 49 percent of those in prison.19 Nine percent of all black adults are under some form of correctional supervision (in jail or prison, on probation or parole), compared to two percent of white adults. 20 One in three black men between the ages of 20 and 29 was either in jail or prison, or on parole or probation in 1995.21 One in ten black men in their twenties and early thirties is in prison or jail. 22 Thirteen percent of the black adult male population has lost the right to vote because of felony disenfranchisement laws.

  • htn (unverified)

    I think imus should be fired! sometime we do go to far to be funny just like

  • nonwhite (unverified)

    What's offensive to me, more than Imus' absurd attempt to rap, is the tendency of white people to assume that they have the right to pontificate about what's offensive to African-Americans. You who are unable to put yourselves in the place of the other should keep your mouths shut.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)

    multi colored human being:

    But over 200 years later-Africa-Middle East and much of asia, for some reason those people haven't done squat to be FREE.

    Bob T:

    Even when some come to a place like western Europe, they want to squash liberty. In Switzerland, aggressive Islamists have already gotten numerous cities and towns to have women-only hours for public pools because they hate the free western way. Oh, and then there's the murder of Van Gogh over free expression differencers, and the murder of people over a political cartoon etc. Sadly, the left is caving there, but there are still some good real liberals there who fight this new Nazism.

    Bob Tiernan

  • Phil Jones (unverified)

    I do agree that Don Imus was wrong to broadcast his racist/sexist insult of the Rutgers Women's Basketball Team, but I think the ongoing crucifixion of Imus is, unfortunately, feeding into the historical fact-based stereotype of the easily outraged minority, such as the one portrayed in this youtube video:

  • Phil Jones (unverified)

    And, why wasn't Mainstream Media all over this broadcast?

    Why does a guy making statements like this on CSPAN get a pass from public scorn?

  • (Show?)

    Of course he's a racist. That he's not aware of his racism makes this conversation all the more important.

    A lot of us Boomers were brought up within this culture of unthinking "isms" and we've spent the rest of our lives having to consciously self monitor both our thought processes and our speaking. These "Greatest Generation" guys like Imus and my own father may be incapable of understanding what the fuss is about but that's kinda the point of having these conversations, isn't it?


    Pat Haggerty The comedy coach in "Borat" addressed appropriate humor by saying (roughly--can't find a transcript) that you don't make fun of people for any characteristic over which they have no control.


    So basically your beliefs, behavior, and attitudes are all fair game, because they are choices; while your gender, sexual orientation, pigmentation, athleticism or lack thereof, etcetera are not choices and are unavailabe for ridicule by anyone.


    Calling ourselves "progressives" has to mean that we strive to progress personally and as a society from some less desirable point in the present or past.


    As for Imus, his goose is already cooked, the big capitalists who routinely boycott Air America, are already dropping him as dangerous to their bottom line. Thus they acknowledge that society has moved beyond earlier benchmarks for acceptable discourse.

  • (Show?)

    First of all I want to thank Karol for a superb, thought-provoking post. I particularly loved this line:

    Until we have a real conversation about race, class, and gender, we can never get above this pervasive underbelly of our culture.

    Yes, yes, YES! There are such huge overlaps between each of those forms of bigotry, as well as other forms, that trying to take on just one is an exercise in pointlessness. It's like trying to kill a weed in your garden by clipping the leaves off. It'll just grow back unless or until the root is dealt with.

    I also very much appreciate the fact that you didn't try to let your own "group" off the hook. Maintaining double-standards never solved anything.

    IMHO Kari's comment was spot on the money! BTW, Kari... someone left a hyperlink tag open and it's messing with the comment form.

    All that said... one of the guys at Highbrid Nation who actually worked with Imus wrote a very compelling commentary yesterday that I would recommend to everyone:

  • Phil Jones (unverified)

    Isn't it ironic that this story is eclipsing the Imus incident. The accusations by this woman are, IMO, the ultimate racist/sexist insults anyone could ever commit.

  • lonnie (unverified)

    This is just what was needed in America, a shot in the arm if you will. With out open comunication about everything that effects us as a people,we will devide instead of come together. That is when we are at our best,when we agree to disagree. it is after all what our nation is founded on,deversity. We dont always uderstand one another,or even like one another,but when we all come to the table ready to openly comunicate our diferences,WE are truely grand. thank you all for joining the American experiment.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    I do not know whether Mr. Imus is a racist or an idiot. I suspect it is some combination thereof. I do know that in my opinion the broadcast media in general has become a cesspool. Channel surfing on radio or TV has become a bizarre and sometimes disgusting task. If it is not Howard Stern chatting with a room full of strippers, it is some idiot eating worms on Fear Factor or Paul McCartney's ex-wife "dancing with the stars" for money, or Michael Savage spewing garbage on KXL, or Tom Lykess (spelling?) on AM970 telling his 20 something male audience how to "get more tail for less money" or giving tips on how to "kick that bitch to the curb". And don't get me started on the morons on Fox News.

    In the big picture, Imus was (and I think he is toast) one of the less obnoxious people in media. But he crossed the line and needs to go.

    I am no prude. I respect and enjoy the freedoms that the Constitution offers to all of us, especially the 1st Amendment. But as a person who grew up in the 50s and 60s, it seems as if the whole world, and particularly the media, have lost every sense of reason and respect for everyone regardless of race, creed, gender or whatever. Of course, they make money peddling this garbage, and I think I have some Microsoft or Disney or General Electric stock in my 401K, so God Bless America and pass me the remote, because I think "trading wives" is on tonight.

  • lin qiao (unverified)

    About ten years ago, I confronted an 18-ish friend of my neighbor's son who was sitting in a MERCEDES (Mom's, I'll wager), engine idling, with gangsta rap blasting out the open windows. Just sharing that garbage with the whole neighborhood. The entire point is to be in everyone else's face with this garbage.

    A question for Ms. Collymore especially but anyone else, too. I simply do not fathom the fact that African Americans use words like "nigger" or the quasi-sanitized version "niggah" to describe themselves. Or "ho". And so on and so on. Jews don't call each other "kike". Latinos don't call each other "greaser". What the devil is going on?

    As for Imus, he's an idiot, just switch him off.

  • YoungOregonVoter (unverified)

    The hypocrisy of the so called "Reverend" Al Sharpton amazes me. As a so-called "Reverend" doesn't anybody find it odd how Al Sharpton is calling for Imus's head, yet still puts the "Reverend" in front of Al?

    The central tenet in Christianity is forgiveness followed by redemption. If Al Sharpton is a Reverend, then shouldn't he be the first to forgive Don Imus?

  • YoungOregonVoter (unverified)

    Me thinks that this whole debacle is another publicity stunt that Al Sharpton will use to attract campaign donors to his presidential run in 2008.

    Personally, I would love to audit Sharpton's campaign finances. I wonder if Al Sharpton is living off of the campaign donations he received for his presidential run in 2004?

  • (Show?)

    The central tenet in Christianity is forgiveness followed by redemption. If Al Sharpton is a Reverend, then shouldn't he be the first to forgive Don Imus?

    And yet you give every appearance of being disinclined to "forgive" Al Sharpton.

    Pot, meet Kettle. You're both quite black. Deal with it!

  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    Jews don't call each other "kike". Latinos don't call each other "greaser". What the devil is going on?

    I have certainly heard someone polish refer to themselves or their family as "polacks" (sp?) who would have gotten quite upset at someone else calling themselves or their family that. Likewise I have heard gays refer to themselves or their friends as faggots. If my wife said she was starting to be "a real fatty", that would be a lot different than if I said that and it would be entirely different is someone at work called her "a real fatty".

    The idea that context doesn't matter is absurd.

    As for Sharpton "forgiving" Imus, that's fine. But I don't know what it has to do with Imus keeping his job. You may forgive someone who gets drunk and runs into you, but you don't hand him the keys to a car and a bottle. Imus has shown he isn't responsible and he doesn't belong on the public's airwaves. Christian forgiveness has nothing to do with it.

  • Sadie (unverified)

    Why has everyone seemed to lose sight of the fact that free speech can be painful, shameful, and ugly?

    While the media, and now we, focus on some guy who has always been a mumbling moron, more important things have been going on in our world. Of course what Imus said was wrong and stupid, that pretty much sums him up in a nutshell. But if somebody wants to listen to his crap, this is a free country and they can go right ahead and do so. If nobody chooses to listen to him then he will end up alone in an empty room, talking to himself.

    The problem is NOT that Don Imus is an idiot or that many musicians are rather untalented in the art of poetry; the problem is that there are a lot of people out there willing to make them rich by listening to the hate they like to spew.

    The question I want to ask you, Karol, is why do you want to hear it? I don't buy that it is all about the beat. And I don't get how it is OK to hear somebody trash you as a woman just because they share your skin color.

    When my mother-in-law trashes Hispanics I lose it. She is Hispanic, my children are part Hispanic and nothing about what she is saying makes it OK just because she shares the heritage she is trashing.

    Just remember the next time you sing along or dance to "nappy headed ho" music, you are perpetuating the hate - and some hateful man is profiting from it.

  • Lester Gesteland (unverified)

    Don Imus is way out of line and should be taken off the air. MSNBC did the right thing in cancelling his show. I strongly urge anyone who found his racial slurs offensive to write to the head of CBS Corp., who has ultimate say over what is and is not broadcast:

    President and CEO Leslie Moonves CBS Corporation 51 W. 52nd St. New York, NY 10019-6188

  • Phil Jones (unverified)

    Wow! That was fast! No sooner had Lester posted the CBS address then Imus was gone! Impressive!

  • ws (unverified)

    Bob Herbert's column in the NYtimes today was good, (you have to pay to read it online)

    It's well that he's been fired, but really, even with his tendencies, I wonder how long the media will resist the revenue generating potential he likely still holds.

  • P. Fishman (unverified)

    Karol...thanks for initiating an interesting and important discussion. A lot of lessons are to be learned from this, by all people. For a long time I've been disturbed by the popularity of meanness - it abounds all around us. I never got Seinfeld, for example, I thought it was just humor based on making fun of people and being mean. Shows like Imus and Limbaugh and the rest - never could figure out why that was popular.

    I've been glad to see the mighty struck down by their own bigotry: Mel Gibson, Andrew Young, Michael Richards, Imus - not because I think that these are necessarily bad people, but because society is at least saying "Hey - that's not acceptable any more!"

    Imus' remarks, in my view, were parroting of popular slang and rap - he got spanked maybe more because he is white than because he was wrong (which he was). I'm disturbed by the source, and by my assumption that even the Rutgers young women probably dance to and sing along with that kind of gansta rap (as you admit doing).

    I'll end with a piece from Maya Angelou, "A Black Woman Speaks to Black Manhood" (1995 Million Man March in D.C.):

    Stand up, clap hands, let us welcome kind words back into our vocabulary Stand up, clap hands, let us welcome courtesies back into our bedrooms....

  • Melanie Lee (unverified)

    Karol: were you around during the 1960s, or did you miss the "Black is Beautiful" movement? Back then, people wore "Afros" or "naturals" (that is, unstraightened hair), wore dashikis, and listened to James Brown's "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)".

    Your listening habits remind me of an article in Seventeen magazine or another teen girl's magazine that warned its readers that some of their favorite hit songs might be putting them down. Although there were no blatant insults like "hos" or "bitches" (save Elton John's "The Bitch is Back"), male singers sang that they had to have their freedom. Example: "Baby, baby, don't get hooked on me/'Cause I'll just use you, then I'll set you free."

    Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime" sang, "If her daddy's rich/Take her out for a meal/If her daddy's poor/Just do what you feel"--his sexual respect for a woman, or at least the price for her favors, dependent upon her father's income! And Lou Christie's "Lightning Strikes" wanted his fiancee to wait patiently for him while he runs around on her. And while Dion's "Runaround Sue" bemoaned a girl who cheated, his "Wanderer" proudly declared, "I roam around, around, around, around, around!"

    These days, the seductive romance of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" and Rod Stewart's "Tonight's the Night" are replaced by blatant, insulting demands for steamy yet uncaring--and uncommitted--sex.

    But I digressed. You are afraid that your natural hairdo will make you look "ghetto" to your boss. Why not show him/her by your mannerism, good work, and character that you are not "ghetto", or that even if you do come from the ghetto, you, too, can behave in a respectable, professional manner while not denying the God-given traits of your ethnicity?

    I'm not against straightened or unstraightened hair. I'm for choice.

    BTW, though I don't think Don Imus should have been fired, I certainly understand the frustration with his remarks. As a black woman, or any kind of woman, I can think, "Gee, I can come one game sort of winning a national championship, I could be Miss America, I could start a multimillion-dollar business, I could cure cancer, and somewhere there's still a lot of guys--white guys, black guys, other guys--who will still see me as nothing more than a 'ho'."

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