Don Imus : A 'nappy-headed' fan speaks

Don Imus and Larry KingThis'll be the toughest piece I've written here. You see, I'm one of Don Imus' biggest fans. I'm also African American. And I'm a woman. There, I've said it: You won't find another African American female on the planet who's watched and enjoyed MSNBC's Imus In the Morning more than me. I've watched Imus near-religiously for, I don't know, over a decade? That is, until a little over a year ago...

I was irreversibly sickened by similar -- if not worse -- racially offensive banter on Imus. Long before the current Rutgers University women's basketball crisis...

Contessa Brewer and Don Imus landed on bad footing after another racial comment she initiated on his television showIt wasn't Don Imus who uttered the shockingly hurtful comments, but two of his side-kicks: his producer Bernie McGuirk and MSNBC news anchor, Contessa Brewer, who used to do the news teaser cut-ins on Imus. These two completely lost their minds on-air. Brewer said she didn't like to stand near the show's director (who is African American) because of an alleged odor. She crinkled her nose and may have even fanned with her hand.

Bernard McGuirk, producer of Don Imus' show, is the worst of all the cast members when it comes to making slurs against women, blacks and JewsWhich is when McGuirk -- the same person involved with Imus in the ho-calling banter -- pressed Brewer to be specific. "What? Are you saying he smells like a black guy?" McGuirk insisted. I swear, they went back and forth with this bizarre conversation a good while. When the camera finally cut back to Don, he looked pretty dazed by it, too. But said nothing.

I couldn't believe my ears. I was incredulous, felt punched in the gut. Never heard anything like this uttered in my life. Thing is, I'm aware of the many peculiar stereotypes that exist, but am blown away when people are stupid enough to voice them on-air at MSNBC. That's suicidal. Or at least, it should be.

I wrote the Imus show. (Crazy me, I even copied several major NBC on-air personalities including Katie Couric and Lester Holt.) In my letter, I urged that Don acknowledge the inappropriate banter his people engaged in. I wrote that his silence would seem like agreement, and that I'd contact Rev. Al Sharpton if Don acted like that head-spinning racial slur was okay to say on his show.

The next couple of days, I tried hard to stay awake during the show's very early, daily broadcast, hoping to catch an acknowledgement. I didn't want to contact Rev. Sharpton. I really liked the show, but knew they needed to speak less wrecklessly.

I imagine they laughed and dismissed my suggestion that Rev. Sharpton could cause them a problem. Well, guess who could be laughing now...

It's unclear to me if Don actually said anything about the wacky exchange. Sometimes I would nod back to sleep while trying to watch Imus. I did re-awaken with a start one of those mornings and believe I caught the tail-end of Don uttering regret about it. But I'll never know for sure.

At the same time, Contessa Brewer suddenly vanished from the show. Seems to me those b.o. comments may have had a something to do with it. Once she was gone, Imus called Contessa a "fat skank."

I could never, really return to the show after that. I felt betrayed, bitterly turned-off. I'd expected more from Don himself. Which is why I -- Don Imus' (ex) biggest African American female fan -- would now be okay with the show being cancelled.

Do I believe Don Imus is the devil? Not at all. He seems to have a few, close African American associates, such as former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford. He has cared for the seriously ill, African American children who've attended his medical ranch. I've also frequently seen Don almost "get nappy" -- I mean happy -- off some deep gospel or blues songs. He enjoys pop culture antics in songs by the likes of Snoop Dogg and Shaggy. You hear a lot of music by James Brown and Ray Charles on the show. So no, Don can't be the worst person in the world.

But these guys are out of control, and they've been that way for a very long time. In fact, I'm less offended by Janet Jackson's boob on the Super Bowl than by the stream of racial slurs and character slams that creep like maggots from the brains of those on Imus In the Morning.

Sure, Don Imus' influential political voice would be missed, and so would his comical, curmudgeonly dissing. But I ask you: How many lives does one cat get? We don't have the right to stop counting.

Link: Bernard McGuirk says Hillary Clinton will have corn rows and gold teeth due to her "black dialect" faux pas during February's Black History Month.

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Anonymous said...

I have never liked the Imus Show and always could tell he had issues.

All of these evil-tongued bastards could go away tomorrow and I would be cool with it.

Paula the Surf Mom said...

:( hasn't he just about become an idiot?... he and Rosie O'Donnell need to co host a show together,

Jason - GorillaSushi said...

I just wish that there was a punishment/reprimand that could cure racism and prejudice.

They may end up jobless and out of the media but they'll still think the same way.

Paula Neal Mooney said...

This is such a good article!

You have the inside view of being a black former fan of Imus' and many people should read this.

I didn't really care all that much about what Imus said, 'cause I never really like Imus and never really listened to him.

I totally understand where you're coming from: I liked Michael Richards, that's why his racist comments felt so hurtful to me as a black woman.

And yeah, now that Imus didn't heed warnings sent by you and others -- he's paying the price.

But I always go back to love and forgiveness after we learn our lessons. I know I'm grateful for God's grace and mercy when I screw up!

Great writing, excellent insight.



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