first_imgAfter “Seinfeld” actor Michael Richards was castigated for a racist on-stage rant, the New York City Council passed a symbolic resolution banning the n-word, and other cities around the country have passed similar measures. Cultural critic, author and columnist Stanley Crouch, a longtime foe of rap music, suspected the Imus ordeal would galvanize young black women across the country. He said a key moment was when the Rutgers players appeared at a news conference this week – poised, dignified and defying stereotypes seen in rap videos and “dumb” comedies. “When the public got to see these women, what they were, it was kind of shocking,” Crouch said. “It made accepting the denigration not quite as comfortable as it had been for far too long.” Some defenders of rap music and hip-hop culture, such as the pioneering mogul Russell Simmons, deny any connection between Imus and hip-hop. They describe rap lyrics as reflections of the violent, drug-plagued, hopeless environments that many rappers come from. Instead of criticizing rappers, defenders say, critics should improve their reality.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! NEW YORK – Fighting in vain to keep his job, radio host Don Imus claimed that rappers routinely “defame and demean black women” and call them “worse names than I ever did.” That’s an argument many people made as the Imus fallout intensified, culminating with his firing Thursday for labeling the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed ho’s.” Now that Imus has been silenced (for the moment), some critics are moving down the radio dial to take on hip-hop, boosting the growing movement against harmful themes in rap. “We all know where the real battleground is,” wrote Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock. “We know that the gangsta rappers and their followers in the athletic world have far bigger platforms to negatively define us than some old white man with a bad radio show.” “We have to begin working on a response to the larger problem,” said the Rev. DeForest B. Soaries Jr., who as pastor of the Rutgers coach helped mediate the Imus imbroglio. Soaries announced Friday that he is organizing a nationwide initiative to address the culture that “has produced language that has denigrated women.” The larger problem was alluded to by CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves when he announced Imus’ firing: “The effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society … has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision.” Pointing out that the rapper Mims uses “ho” and worse epithets in his chart-topping song “This Is Why I’m Hot,” columnist Michelle Malkin asked: “What kind of relief do we get from this deadening, coarsening, dehumanizing barrage?” The Rev. Al Sharpton, among the loudest critics calling for Imus’ termination, indicated that entertainment is the next battleground. “We will not stop until we make it clear that no one should denigrate women,” he said after Imus’ firing. “We must deal with the fact that ho and the b-word are words that are wrong from anybody’s lips. “It would be wrong if we stopped here and acted like Imus was the only problem. There are others that need to get this same message.” It is a message that was spreading even before Imus’ comments. last_img

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