Our activities tonight revolved around the Don Imus scandal. We had an open discussion of Imus’s recent firing that resulted from a broadcast in which he (and his producer) called the Rutgers Women’s basketball team “some nappy headed hoes.” First, we passed out a news article that described the whole scenario in detail; we also discussed some recent Oprah episodes in which the hip-hop community responded to claims that they’re responsible for normalizing derogatory attitudes towards women—in the Black community, and in all cultures.
We had members come up with a list of slang words used to describe women and talked critically about the different “levels of offensiveness.” The girls had some insightful things to say as far as who can use certain words, how they’re used, when they’re used, etc. We had them freewrite about their response to Mr. Imus and the hip-hop community. Then, members turned their freewrites into persuasive letters (geared to Mr. Imus, to be posted on Oprah.com). We talked about what it means to write a persuasive letter and encouraged members to construct purposeful, respectful letters. We’re also going to use this type of “public” writing to move into research projects in which members find a cause they want to support, research it on the Internet and through other mediums, and then use their writing to make some kind of difference.
**Here are some excerpts:
(1) From Tajeria Beacham:
Dear Mr. Imus,
I honestly believe that you didn’t mean any harm about your comment to the Rutgers basketball team, but to women in general it’s offensive, even when rappers use it in their lyrics. Not only when whites use it to me and many of my peers anyone who calls females out of their names is very disrespectful by all means….
There’s a huge difference in the black community when female friends call each other b’s but not to go as far as h’s (hoes). Even though black women and women of all races are disrespected and are given bad reputations in rap lyrics that still doesn’t give anybody of any color to call women HOES. Comments to women are about them I believe today rappers want a visual of themselves so they become disrespectful to women and that’s not cool. I believe even though I’m black many blacks are disrespected by both female and women that’s why many people my age aren’t stressing the issue.
(2) From Eboni Rivera
Dear Mr. Imus,
I think the comment you made was stupid and ignorant. You hurt those girls feelings and then have the nerve to say that it was just a joke or a comment. I feel you were racist towards the black community and the women in the black race. In my thought though I do feel it’s a double standard. You feel that if people in the black race can say it, then white people or any other race can say it. There are different sayings of that word “hoe” or “bitch.” Most girls call there friends it. They see them at school, coming down the hallway, “what’s up h, or what’s up b?” But when a boy or someone else says it we get offended. Different rappers rap about these women and call these women all kinds of things. It’s wrong for them to say it, and it was wrong for you to say it. Point blank.