Imus wrong no matter the context

Published 2:31 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2007

For some time now the media has been overcome with everyone discussing the comment that Don Imus made regarding the ladies basketball team from Reutgers College. And I had made up my mind not to say anything about it because there was already plenty being said, but then I spoke to my son this weekend and changed my mind.

Matthew is in a political science class at Ole Miss and so far this year I have been very intrigued to hear about the conversations they have been having in there.

First of all, you have to know that not only is the class racially diverse it also has students of varying ages. The instructor brought it up last week during class and I can’t say that I blame him. If I taught a sociology or political science class, I would too. After all, what better way to really find out what your students think about such a racially charged comment.

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Now the first thing you need to know about my son is that he has been raised in a Republican household and we have never hesitated to discuss social issues. And whether I agree with them or not my children have always been encouraged to voice their opinions. But part of that privilege means that they have to listen to others’ opinions and they have to back up their own opinion.

Last week, Matthew called to discuss the issue with me and what was said in class and it was pretty amazing to me how split the class was on their opinions and why they felt that way.

One young girl, who was black, was vehement that not only was Imus wrong but he should be fired from his job.

She also gave the impression that she was the most upset that the words were uttered by a white man. Another woman was just appalled by the statement he made and couldn’t understand where that would even come from. Matthew said he just sat there and was trying to keep his opinion to himself, but it wasn’t long before the instructor called on him and asked him what he thought.

In our conversation, I soon found out that my son and I have very similar opinions and he soon found out that even if you are able to back up your opinion, not everyone wants to hear it.

To begin with, he told the younger female that he thought she should be indignant that anyone, male or female, black or white would say that to anyone — not just to females in college but any at all.

Then he told the older female that the reason so few younger people were as upset as her was because they hear words such as “ho,” “” and other derogatory terms for women in music every day. He said she told him that she never heard that language in her everyday life. She did have the good grace to laugh when Matthew asked her how old she was and pointed out that he was 19 and they most likely listened to different types of music.

I would have to agree with him. We should all be cognizant of the language that is used to describe females, and we should go out of our way to teach our sons and daughters that to denigrate them in that way is totally unacceptable.

We will have truly reached an acceptable level of racial and gender acceptance when we are offended no matter who said it or where we heard it.

Christina Hall can be reached at