Rev. Daughtry's weekly article that appears in the NY Daily Challenge every Wednesday and Friday.

Jackie, Imus and Rappers - Part I

April 15, 2007, Jackie Robinson Day in Major League Baseball was commemorated. It marked the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball. Baseball teams were asked to wear number 42 on their uniforms. Number 42, Jackie’s old number, was retired ten years ago.

Without controversy, Robinson possessed prodigious, intelligence, patience, determination, courage and talent. He was a fighter but was able to subdue the retaliatory fire within him to achieve a greater good. Also, he was deeply race conscious. He was proud to be a man of African ancestry.

There is a cruel irony in contemporary discussion and debates as it relates to name-calling. During the week Jackie was being honored, there was a national turmoil as a result of a radio personality on the air remarks. Imus, as the world knows now, was fired by MSNBC and CBS radio for calling the Rutgers women basketball team “hard core nappy head hos” - not just hos, not just nappy head but hard core nappy head hos. Keep in mind he said this about a group of intelligent women who had just lost the final game for the national championship.

However, it really would not have mattered who the young ladies were, it would have been wrong for Imus to make those remarks. Imus, the super shock jock, who earned $500,000.00 a year while making his employers over $8,000,000.00, had a long history of using offensive language. This time it caught up with him. There was bewilderment how he could be so brazen as to employ such obnoxious epithetic. It calls to mind a Bible verse, which says, “Because sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed, therefore the hearts of the son of men are fully set in them to do evil.” It was Victor Hugo who said, “Nothing is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” The idea, that there should be an avalanche of criticism calling for the termination of Imus, has come. The whirlwind of events that followed his infamous remark must have startled him and sent him reeling. The telling blow, that seals his fate, was when sponsors started pulling their ads. Imus became a minus to his employers.

As I listened to the parade of leaders, Black and white, severely castigating Imus, and demanding his firing, I began to feel uneasy or suspicious. Something was wrong with this development.

Here were people attacking Imus that I had not seen nor heard raising issues of racism and the wrong committed against Black women and women period, before Imus and his notorious remark. Most Black people live in silent desperation having learned to absorb or adjust to the prevalent racism in American society. For those of us who are conscious, it calls to mind James Baldwin’s classic statement. “To be Black in America and relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” Where were these highly visible vociferous leaders?

Moreover, there is a more important aspect to this Imus episode, which must not be overlooked. Imus is a barometer. He is a symptom of a deeper sickness. To attack and to remove a symptom from the body and not the cause can in the long run do greater damage. Imus was on the radio because millions of Americans wanted him there.

Mr. Imus underscores the pervasive hypocrisy in American society. The fact that he appeals to many Americans, reveals the mindset in a large segment in good old America. The fact that highly regarded leaders and opinion makers appear on his show, clamor and beg to appear on his show, reveal to us where their values are, and these are the people especially politicians who talk a good talk about the greatness of American tolerance and their practice of respect for all Americans. The fact that corporate America allows this to happen and pay the shock jock huge sums of money to make it happens shows where their values are. Imus reveals the practice in large parts of corporate America that it’s about profit and not principles.

To be continued

4/17/07Save the date Dar-fur Benefit

May 5, 2007 – 6 p.m. (film showing and update on Dar-Fur); 7-10 p.m.
At Medgar Evers College

Randy Weston, Lilias White, and others
Saturday, May 12 from 4-7 p.m.

Musical Tribute to the deceased son of
Randy Weston
Featuring Randy Weston and othersSaturday, May 19, 2007, 5-8 p.m.
An Evening with the famous Jazz musical

Jimmy HeathOrganizing Meeting on Dar-fur
Each Thursday: noon to 2:00 p.m.
At The House of the Lord Church, 415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY