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Imus and White Privilege: Don't Blame Rap Music

By Ayinde
April 15, 2007

We are witnessing an attempt to portray Don Imus as a victim of a Black conspiracy and hypocrisy. Apparently many commentators want to make Africans complicit in Don Imus' racist, sexist and homophobic conduct.

Don Imus is a racist and not much different from most other Whites.

Just because Whites have been hearing some Rap and Hip Hop artists using the terms 'ho' and 'nigga', making statements about their 'ghetto' disposition when relating to each other, this does not mean that Whites should use such terms to or about Africans, including in jest. I never met one White person who was unclear about this. But because Imus, a White icon, crossed the line and had to pay (temporarily, as Whites are already supporting him), Whites are suddenly pretending that they do not understand the difference. Whites should know that because of racism, Africans have been experimenting with different ways to create enclaves for themselves. Rap was born out of this.

Before I go further, let me say that I do not condone Africans using the terms 'ho', 'bitch' and 'nigga' to refer to each other although I know when African Americans use these terms they do not carry the same racist weight as when Whites use them towards Africans. There is the history of White supremacy behind the use of these words by Whites and this can never be ignored. It was only a matter of time before some arrogant Whites felt their privileges entitled them to cross the line and publicly call Africans 'niggers' once more.

Many Africans, including myself, have been discouraging other African Americans from using these derogatory terms towards each other, but the White mainstream media was not interested in promoting our point of view. The White-owned media are making money from Rap and Hip Hop and if they thought the terms were derogatory they surely had no problem with Africans degrading each other. They promoted derogatory references to Blacks in Rap and Hip Hop music, so they cannot now blame African leaders.

Commentators are now claiming that Africans were not raising hell when some Africans use 'derogatory' terms towards other Africans. They want to see Africans be as firm with other Africans as we are with Whites who disrespect us.

As a result of institutionalized White racism, some Africans have been killing and prostituting themselves in the 'ghetto' over cocaine the U.S. government intentionally flooded these communities with. Many are survivors of this scourge. These are the communities that some Africans grew up in and learned the language of Whites in relation to their deprived conditions. They knew, to White America, they were nothing but 'niggers' and 'whores'.

White society has not made it easy for Africans to pull themselves up. As the Rutgers incident shows, even if Blacks try to do their best in White America, the demoralizing racism will always follow them.

The playing field is not level, so it is very dishonest for Whites, who have the system loaded in their favour, to be trying to claim they are not getting equal treatment from Africans. Whites prove they have no intention of relinquishing their White privilege to promote equality.

Africans have a shared history of mistreatment at the hands of Whites and should be used to Whites fueling dissension among Africans. Although Africans have to take personal responsibility for their conduct, the poor conduct of some Africans is as a result of the legacy of slavery and the racist societies they live in that deny them equal opportunity. So it is understandable that Africans would be more tolerant of other Africans using these words than of Whites. White Jews are more tolerant of the poor conduct of fellow Jews than others with a similar conduct towards them. American Indians are more tolerant of the poor conduct of each other than of others towards them. People are less offended when people who share their experiences poke fun at them.

Generally speaking, most Whites should know that when Africans use the term 'nigga' as a term of endearment towards each other, they are making a statement about how society views and treats them while signaling to other Africans that they can love each other and develop in spite of the system. That is a very powerful and complex statement that allows Blacks to have a sanctuary in a society that promotes Whites privileges. Whites cannot get that intimate with Africans and they cannot enter certain domains of discourse because of Whites privilege.

Don Imus represents White privilege and unaddressed racism. Most Whites are trying to stay in denial about their own racism in order to hang onto their White privilege; thus they support Don Imus.

From the time the Imus story broke, many White spokespersons and even some Blacks have been trying to flip the script to place the blame on Africans. All of a sudden, some of these commentators are saying that the word 'ho', in reference to women, was developed in the Black community.

For the neophyte, the term 'ho' is derived from the word 'whore', which was derived from the Old English word 'hore'. The general meaning is a prostitute. Whites introduced 'Nigger', 'bitch' and all the other derogatory words that some African Rap artists use.

There are many issues that Africans have to resolve within the African community and among the many is the use of derogatory terms. Many Africans have been addressing these issues but there would be no 'big stick' approach as Africans in general are survivors of the racist system.

Whites have to know that their privileges do not allow them to empathize with Africans on many levels so they cannot easily follow all African discourses. They just cannot be part of everything. Their society does not allow equal opportunity; therefore, they cannot expect Africans to react towards them the same as they would to other Africans.

White privilege only goes so far.


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