by Dr. Boyce Watkins
I received a call today from a producer at WVON in Chicago. My good friend Roland Martin (the black dude on CNN) and I are going to discuss Don Imus tomorrow morning at 8 am. I like WVON, it's literally my favorite station in America. There is a great deal of tradition there.
I was involved with the first removal of Don Imus from the air, as I worked with Rev. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton on the phone to talk about ways to deal with him. I mentioned that if African Americans engage in a unified effort to challenge his corporate sponsors, we can bring him down. That is what Jesse and Al did, and it worked. As a Finance Professor, I always look to the money first. That is the most critical element of power in a capitalist democracy.
You can imagine how disappointed I was to see Don Imus back on the air so soon. I admit that when I saw Imus appear on Al Sharpton's show, I really believed he was truly sorry for what he did. For him to repeat his actions is simply baffling, and I wonder out loud if Rev. Jackson and Rev Sharpton feel the same way.
I recorded some of my thoughts on Don Imus below. The fact that this man can do what he did the first time, get back on the air and repeat the same stunt one year later is yet another reminder of just how little respect African Americans get in white media. No, it's not mainstream media, because mainstream media should reflect viewpoints from all perspectives. The truth of the matter is that most media is owned by people who are not black, so people like Don Imus and Bill O'Reilly can get away with this stuff without being forced to engage in any form of respect or responsibility. The ownership structure of American media is an artifact of 400 years of slavery and economic exclusion of African Americans. Our grandparents never had the chance to own CNN, FOX or NBC and they also did not have a chance to own the corporations that financially support these media outlets. African American wealth was stolen from us and now lies, in part, in the hands of companies that support racism on the airwaves.
So, the networks continue to insult black people and there are no consequences. Personally, I am getting tired of this crap. What is most ironic is that no matter what anyone says about black people on the air (lynching Michelle Obama, killing Barack Obama, calling Mrs. Obama a Baby's mama, calling Barack a terrorist, or calling black women Nappy headed hoes), someone is always there from the right wing willing to rationalize this behavior (some of them, like Juan Williams, are even African American). It reminds me of a relative I had with a drinking problem. No matter how much you pointed out his weakness, he always had an explanation. America's addiction to racism is a lot like the addictions of my uncle.
It's actually kind of pathetic.
The video is below: