Racist jokes lack humor, spur hate

Marchaé Grair

Racism is not funny, and nationally syndicated radio show host Don Imus is learning that the hard way.

Imus made racially charged comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team who played in the NCAA championship against the more traditional – looking Lady Vols.

According to CNN.com, Imus said, “That’s some rough girls from Rutgers.man, they got tattoos …” and proceeded to call the team “hardcore and nappy-headed hos,” (whores, for those who aren’t familiar with slang).

Groups such as the NAACP are calling for Imus’ immediate firing. Imus appeared on Al Sharpton’s radio show Monday to apologize for his comments. Imus’ employer, MSNBC, is facing protest threats and a public relations nightmare.

It seems racial conscientiousness is a foreign idea in entertainment until someone, such as Imus, is criticized by the general public.

I find it hard to believe one can live in America and not have a general idea of what could be deemed racially offensive.

Entertainers believe their objective to push the envelope excludes them from being responsible for using hateful words, but it does not.

Popular radio show hosts or comedians should consider themselves even more responsible for their words than an average person. They have the power to alter what people perceive as socially acceptable.

Unfortunately, Imus is not alone in his inability to bite his tongue.

Last year, Michael Richards, of “Seinfeld” fame, was criticized for a rant he made about blacks at a comedy club. Richards used the “n-word” and made a joke about lynching. He concluded his act with, “That’s what happens when you interrupt a white man.”

Richards made many public appearances like Imus to apologize to the black community. Al Sharpton was one of the many black leaders with whom Richards met to make amends.

I am not impressed by comedians who make inappropriate racial comments and proceed to apologize less than gallantly . Something tells me these apologies would never happen if their careers were not at stake and a public outcry never happened because of their remarks.

Comedians insist on finding the humor behind racism and other hate speech, but this humor does not exist. Whether one is making fun of black basketball players or the black race in general, it will never be appropriate.

Imus’ fame is based on being politically incorrect. I find this type of fame cheap and unrespectable. If one has to belittle someone because of his or her race just to get attention, that person must not have any natural talent.

The problem with Imus isn’t this particular comment; the problem is all of the comments he made before this which were probably ten times worse. He is only apologizing to save his career and will probably not change if he keeps his job.

Does Imus feel all black women are really whores? Does he have a problem with the way a black person’s hair type is? He may not judge black females, but he reinforced the stereotypes of his listeners who already do.

I’ve had enough of movies, radio shows and television programs that mock certain races, religions, sexual orientations or physical disabilities.

Hopefully this public outrage indicates people’s weariness with using hatred to entertain.

We’ve all heard you, Don Imus.

And we’re not laughing.

Marchaé Grair is a freshman journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].