2007-05-18 / Letters

Simmons Should Be Fired? Completely Disagrees

Dear Editor,

I do agree with you when you stated that Don Imus should not have been fired for the comment he made; however, I strongly believe he should have been reprimanded for his remarks. In reading your article, "If Imus had to go, so should Russell Simmons" (Editor's Desk) on April 20, 2007, I could not restrain myself to comment.

You made several points in your article that I found quite interesting. You stated that Imus' regular audience was not surprised by his comment in regards to the Rutgers basketball team, because he does it daily. You further mentioned that he probably makes his living being racist, sexist and homophobic. I know in America we exercise freedom of speech, but should we also practice the liberty to deliberately hurt, insult and degrade others? You said if people do not like what he is saying, they should just shut him off. If people just shut him off and ignore him, Imus would continue to think that what he is saying is okay, which relays the message to others it's okay to be racist, sexist and homophobic. In the society we are living in today, we should be illustrating the complete opposite.

Reverend Al Sharpton and other black activists took a stand on Imus' despicable remarks, because his comment was racist, ignorant and unacceptable. The activists protested on his behavior to inform Imus it is not okay to make that remark even if it is part of his daily "shtick." According to your article, you stated Imus made an insulting comment about Len Berman, referring to him as "Berman the Jew." I am not sure how you made a connection with what he called the females on the Rutgers basketball team and Len Berman; that is like comparing apples and oranges.

Moreover, it is obvious you are not familiar with hip-hop music and the population it serves. First off, Russell Simmons is the co-founder of Def Jam Records, among other things. You said Russell Simmons supports "racist, misogynist, sexist and antipolice rants" because he signs hip-hop artists on his record label. Again in your article, you compare apples and oranges. Don Imus made a racist comment and according to you, he makes racist, sexist and homophobic comments on a daily basis. I question myself on what category does that put you in since you said you are a regular listener of Imus.

In addition, you labeled hip-hop music for black people. Hip-hop music has a vast population, which includes Blacks, Caucasians, Asians, Pakistanis, etc. Jay-Z, a hip-hop icon, could perform in Japan and you could see Japanese singing along. You asked why is it perfectly fine for hip-hop artists to call black women Ho's and use the N-word while Imus is fired for doing the same thing. This is where ignorance takes place: who said hiphop artists are talking about Black women. You along with others stereotype. Because it is a Black artist, you automatically assume they're talking about black females; I guess interracial dating never existed. Additionally, Imus targeted his comment specifically towards the women on the Rutgers basketball team. When you listen to hip-hop music, you cannot tell whom the lyrics are intended for.

The majority of hip-hop artists are telling their story through their music; whether it is a struggle in their life, an encounter with a female they have experienced, or simply how their perceive things in their life. Russell Simmons understands that that is why he explained it is fine, because it is a part of the "black experience and tradition." It is funny how you advertised songs that you assume have negative messages, but failed to talk about the other hip-hop artists that display positive statements in their song. For example, Kanye West's song "Jesus Walks," the lyrics include, "Yo we at war/We at war with terrorism, racism and most of all we at war with ourselves/Jesus walks/God show me a way because the devil trying to break me down/Jesus walk with me." And Kanye West is not a gospel artist. Also Tupac Shakur, in his song "Keep Your Head Up," his lyrics are, "It seems the rain'll never let up/I try to keep my head up and still keep from getting wet up/ You know it's funny when it rains it pours/They got money for the wars, but can't feed the poor…."

Some hip-hop artists use the word "nigga" as slang. In Mims' song, you depicted that his song "This Is Why I'm Hot," he stated, "Niggas show me love." It simply means to us his people show him love. Some blacks use the word "nigga" and not "nigger"; to us it has a completely different meaning. Don Imus cannot use the N-word along with no one else from another ethnic culture and think it is okay. IT is a black thing; you do not have to understand it but you do have to RESPECT it.

Here is a little food for thought: if it is a part of Imus' "shtick" and regular routine to entertain/humor people by being "racist, sexist and homophobic," why is he now being fired for something he does regularly? Should we begin to question ourselves and ask, was the Rutgers comment the real reason Imus was fired?

ANGIE M. WEBLEY

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