Cream But No Sugar

By Walik Edwards
Updated: April 11, 2007

imgCALIFORNIA — Seriously, aren’t you all Imus-ed out? This is a person who hasn’t been funny in about 15 years, and yet, we let one comment pull this guy from his crypt and make him bigger than life before he rides off into the sunset.

Or better yet, we let the Rev. Brothers Al and Jesse make this a traveling circus while it should have been a one-time backyard puppet show handled by the principals and them alone. I’ll get back to those two in a minute because I think they deserve a slap or ten for another injustice that’s flown way under the radar.

First, I have to clear up something my BASN partner Greg Moore said about Imus and his carrying on for 30 years. People who didn’t grow up in NYC will make that assumption, but the deal is, Imus has been carrying on for close to 20 years. 20 years is a long time, too, but this is my point, and it will make sense:

In 1986, Howard Stern was moved to mornings on WXRK in New York, and we all know what Howard does, and he was very successful with it, including taking chunks of audience away from Imus at WNBC.

The “Imus In the Morning Show” was a tame, but successful show which did nothing but take calls, do bits (the biggest being a character named “Reverend Billy Sol Hargis”, who was as harmless as he was unfunny), yammer about his addiction problems, and trade banter with Charles McCord when it was just the two of them.

Stern’s raunchy act and the fact that the station was thisclose to changing to a sports format, and this might spell the end of Imus, he ramped up his game, and decided to play the game and become a full card-carrying shock jock. He moved into the social and political realm since then, acquiring his MSNBC as a result.

This is the bottom line: I can’t defend a person who calls women “nappy headed ho” or told “60 Minutes” off camera that Bernard McGuirk was hired to tell “nigger jokes”, so don’t make this like I’m throwing a pity party for Don Imus. Far from it.

What I have to say, and it is my opinion that the target should not be CBS Radio, but the person in the mirror. As long as you continue to listen or watch shows with this kind of content and give love to the organizers that advertise on these shows, the source of this problem is staring you right in the face.

Media is structured to make money. Period. And if Joe Public says the way to get our dollars is cleaner music, cleaner airways on TV and radio, and all things respectable, they will change, and not lose money.

And that’s the fact, jack!

Now back to Rev. Al and Rev. Jesse. Just a few weeks back, the Albany Patroons were being coached by Micheal Ray Richardson.

As we all saw, but was lightly reported on black media all over, something ominous in itself, he started a soliloquy on Jewish people by saying he had some “big-time Jew lawyers” and how Jews were crafty.

He said they were crafty because they’re hated (so he had a reason, albeit misguided in a sense), and also allegedly used gay slurs to fans leaving an arena after a game.

Micheal Ray Richardson was suspended by the Patroons and the league after his remarks, and his contract wasn’t renewed (he was fired!). Sugar Ray made an apology saying that he was sorry for those he offended, but it barely drew a sniff from someone who has required a life’s worth of help in the past, and dangling helplessly from a ledge.

Whether you believe apologies make up for everything and wipes a slate completely clean, that’s an issue for you and the Tooth Fairy, but apologies are something Al and Jesse hold dear, and when Micheal Ray did it – not a peep.

Know why?

Because it’s the CBA. Because it’s small. Because it’s not their kind of media story. Because it won’t get them on the evening news.

That’s why.

Jumping in to rescue a group of girls who did not want their help (look at their press conference and you’ll see what I mean), and having a chance to have it out with one of media’s big dogs is what the Rev. Brothers slobber for.

This is national media stuff, so Al has to make sure the perm is extra set, and Jesse will put the pick to his moustache with extra vigor to lambaste Don Imus with the bright lights on.

Or maybe this was it – touching guys like Micheal Ray Richardson or Tim Hardaway are too messy for them to get their hands dirty. You think?

These two prowl around like junkyard dogs who live in a grooming salon at night, but it’s amazing that we still jump on their backs and allow them to represent themselves as the voices of Black Americans, and there aren’t enough people out there to say, “stay home.”

Those girls heard that statement a little while after it came out, and their coach C. Vivian Stringer, who has been through plenty in her life, would have had her young women handle it in a less glamorized way.

Al and Jesse made the situation worse on these girls. Coach Stringer and all of the girls who spoke at their press conference talked about the mental fatigue of this situation.

You don’t get mental fatigue from being called nappy-headed – I never did – but you do catch a loss of energy when two people blow your situation up to the size of a whale, and bring unwanted people to your doorstep, your cell phone, your e-mail, and whatever else you communicate with.

They also said “everybody” missed the point on this. They said “people” made this a story about one thing and it was really about something else.

Getting Imus kicked off the air wasn’t a victory only for Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Seriously, like I said, having Imus not on the air means there’s one less unfunny person hogging up good radio dial space, and that’s all it does.

It doesn’t cure the bigger problem of curbing this culture of disrespect we’ve cultivated. It’s not freedom of speech that’s our problem, but respecting one another – races don’t respect other races, and don’t respect themselves, and that’s the honest truth.

People will say that we need these men to pounce on the oppressors for our rights, and I say we all need to start doing that, because the common man has more of the under-the-radar situations to fight than the ones that are going to get us on television.

And the world doesn’t work like that where we get an apology from Don Imus, and suddenly the racism problem is abolished. Things work in episodes, and until you are ready to speak up for yourselves, Joe and Josephine Public’s problems will always take a back seat to “media maker” stories.

Choose your superheroes wisely, people. Watch what they stick in their pockets when they fly away, but maybe the plan was to get something for self in the first place.