Friday, April 13, 2007

The next step

At last, our long national nightmare is over. Oh, wait, it was only a week ago that the brouhaha over Don Imus' latest (and, let us hope, last) outrage broke.

So MSNBC and CBS finally saw the light--or at least the declining revenues as advertisers scampered away from the sinking ship. Whether for reasons of morality or cupidity, the right result was reached.

Perhaps the most salutary part of the whole sorry affair was that more attention was focused on the way that rap and hip-hop "artists" speak of black women every day in terms that would make Imus blush.

So, now that the Imus is fading into history, what will happen next? Will we go back to business-as-usual? Or could this be an opportunity to change attitudes towards black women in particular, and more generally the attitude that black Americans have about themselves?

White guys like me can't have much part in this--there's far too much history for that. But women, black, white, Hispanic, Asian--and black men can stand up and say to people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson that it's time to stop the demeaning portrayals of women--especially black women--in mass media, that it's past time for leaders in the community to begin a relentless campaign to teach younger people the destructiveness of the kind of thinking and acting that leads to all women being regarded as ho's. That could, and should, expand to an examination of the self-destructive behavior that is sometimes deemed acceptable among American blacks, and to a sustained efforts to change the thinking that leads to acts that hold too many blacks back and makes life more difficult for those who don't behave that way, but share skin color with those who do. (Yes, it's racist that whites and others assume that all blacks act the way some do, and they whites find it convenient to believe that many more black Americans believe and behave like the gangsta rappers than is really the case.)

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