by Laura Sillerman | bio

Last night, Alfre Woodard read from Langston Hughes at Alice Tully Hall in New York. She boomed the great poet’s words and exhortation to remember that we built America together, that we had a vision of what it would be and that though the slaves had to wait, the time did come and though we all have to wait, the vision can come true.

She was extraordinary in her power and her beauty, and the (very white) crowd — who were thrilled to see Ethan Hawke, Glenn Close and Lauren Bacall on the stage at The Academy of American Poets celebration of Poetry and The Creative Mind — breathed as one as she read and burst into a glorious applause when she finished.

And that is why we should not call for Don Imus to be taken off of the air.

Remember “fight your own battles”? Well, this one is surely ours, and it’s one that many of us have been fighting since we were young girls in the 1950s. Who better than us to take this incident as a chance to get closer to finishing it?

We should take this fight to the streets and the stores. We should make it clear that older women control America by controlling its purse strings and we are not about to spend money with anyone who sponsors such ignorant rot. And we should run to places like Staples in appreciation for their stand against the man who made potty mouthing into a pot of gold.

We should write letters about our beliefs — but no, we should not call for Imus to be taken off the air. We should take him down ourselves.

We should use our power to disempower him. Because he behaves badly. Because we can stand up against what we should never have been putting up with. Because he hurt young women and it’s our job to protect them. Because we think the golden rule still applies.

But, call for him to be taken off the air? Never. Because to tape his mouth shut means the roll of tape is out and there’s no telling how it might be used next. We are outraged about how a man can use the air waves to slur a race, attack a gender, ignore true beauty and stab the heart of what matters. That could be nothing compared to the outrage we’d feel if what needed to be said was one day silenced.

This incident is a sick moment in broadcasting history. Now it’s up to us to make it a historical turning point in the health and morality of our country.

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  • Carolyn Hahn April 12, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    Wrestling, I will have to take your word for it, because I dismantled the sound thingees on my computer, but hey … I believe you. That said, until this happened, I hadn’t given Imus a lot of thought — easily get him mixed up with Howard Stern, do not listen to radio, etc.
    But this came up in my office yesterday we all had strong feelings about it. One (gay) woman who had been a long time fan defended him strongly — “he and his wife run a camp — a working ranch — for kids with cancer, ” she said, and added that he was very involved in veterans’ charities. OK, who knew. But aren’t some of those kids black? How about the veterans? How compassionate can this man be to call young women names of any race such ridiculous names? It’s as if he called them bulging-eyed, hook nosed Jews, or faggots, or a slew of terms that we don’t need any cues for.
    This fellow worker, by the way, trotted out the (to me) stupid argument that Al Sharpton isn’t calling up hip-hop artists and yelling at them about calling people “niggas” and “hos”. I don’t care, I still think terms have different meanings depending on who is using them (ie, if you’re gay you can say “queer, ” if you’re not, don’t be a fool — it has a mean connotation). I am not saying outlaw words, but don’t be an idiot about nuance, Imus. “You people, ” indeed.

  • Wrestling Perspective April 12, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    This is nothing new. Consider these racist Imus clips from the late 70s.