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Don Imus, Black People, and the Economic Incentives of Racism

Don Imus - This Honky’s Nuts

Another radio talk show personality makes another racially insensitive statement and the Reverend Al Sharpton makes another racist charge. How many times has this scenario already played itself out?

Radio host Don Imus used his nationally syndicated talk show which airs on the MSNBC television network to say that members of the mostly black Rutgers University women’s basketball team, where the majority of players are black, were nappy headed whores. The team had lost a playoff game for the NCAA Women’s Championship. Al Sharpton has demanded that Imus be fired. The Reverend Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Push Coalition plans protest outside the NBC headquarters to voice their grievance. But truth be told the racist Imus has very little to fear.

The program that Don Imus hosts is a very profitable one for NBC. Sponsors practically fall over themselves lining up to buy a share of the commercial time available during his program. Many of his listeners can identify with his view on a number of issues including his racist views on minorities. While many people may not be so bold as to remove any doubt of their racist mindset, Mr. Imus gives them an opportunity to indulge their own bigotry In fact, Mr. Imus may wind up more popular than ever because of his racist expression. There has always been, and always will be, economic incentives for the racist practice of discrimination.

Arguably, America’s most economically profitable era is its period of slavery where many Africans suffered enslavement via extraordinary rendition. Not only were Africans used as free labor. Africans family members were bought and sold for profit like so much property. Through a racist social policy that regarded men and women of color a sub human classification many of our ancestors were forced to suffer inhumane conditions because slave owners had no economic incentives to provide humane treatment for their slave labor force.

When the white man woke up to the fact that they could not economically compete with the free labor market of slavery, the necessary steps were taken to end the system. The emancipation proclamation outlawed slavery and freed the people of African descent. But the economics of racism continued to thwart any fair treatment of black people. A series of Jim Crow laws were established to deny blacks their right to vote. The denied right to vote effectively kept racist officials in positions of government at the local, the state, and the federal level. Racist government officials were all too willing to support policies and practices that denied black people the economic opportunities white people enjoy

Racist policies of keeping black people ignorant and under educated, or uneducated, allowed white people to take advantage of them in business dealings. To this day many blacks still suffer the effects from a history of poor education. Many businesses prey on minorities with substandard educations such as predatory lenders who give people who most likely can’t afford to buy a home the most ornery financing terms with the highest financing rates in order to drive them to financial ruin and seize the house back to sell it to some other easy target. Easy money until so many people fall prey at once and the lenders are now the victims. Thank god for karma.

Racist practices by politicians are wonderful tools to scare the public. Politicians will talk tough about reigning in some fictitious wave of crime to appeal to the masses. Manipulated statistics will show how law enforcement needs to crack down on undesirable elements in our population. For most people, that means keeping black people from committing crime. Politicians will bend over backwards to put a black man in jail for life or send a man to the gas chamber to show how tough they are on crime. Yet white collar crime such as the Enron spectacle, the Jack Abramoff scandal, Halliburton’s no bid multi-billion dollar contracts, Mark Foley’s congressional page scandal, Exxon-Mobile’s eye-popping record $30 billion profit while the rest of America suffer record gasoline prices, and so many other offenses consistently go under the attention of any agency charged with protecting the interest of the public.

Law enforcement agencies regularly benefit from racist policies. Police will randomly target black people for drug enforcement processes such as illegal traffic stops and vehicle searches. A black man will suffer prison for an offense a white man would get off without a mark on his record. Black men in prison work for pennies a day while the prison reaps profits for their modern day slave labor. Prison agencies will justify their existence to the public by touting the number of criminals they have to maintain. A high vacancy rate would be bad for business. So any opportunity to charge an inmate for a petty violation does not get passed up.

Such is the case with the Texas Youth Commission. This agency is charged with the responsibility of keeping juveniles in the state of Texas from the public. Yet, employees of this agency regularly violate laws that are much more severe than the crimes many of these children are accused of. Take the case of Shaquanda Cotton who was sentenced to be incarcerated for a maximum of seven years for shoving a hall monitor at her Paris, Texas high school. She was sent to Texas Youth Commission. Yet Texas Youth Commission employees are accused of raping and torturing these children. So many children have been kept behind bars in order to keep enrollment in the prison system near maximum levels. As many as 550 children may be released now that their cases are being reviewed by the new master of Texas Youth Commission hired by the Governor.

When civil rights activist brought attention to Shaquanda Cotton and the Texas Youth Commission, many people were appalled at the conditions with which the agency operated and demanded justice and changes. Many people are now in fear of being fired for being negligent in the responsibilities. Other Texas Youth Commission employees are under threat of being prosecuted for criminal behavior. So many people are upset that they are now being scrutinized by new management. Now the employees of the Texas Youth Commission want compassion. Inevitably other racist will rally to their defense.

Until minorities can figure out a way to take the economic incentive out of being a racist racism will thrive and thrive well. As some broadcast analyst commented, Don Imus has nothing to fear as long as he is profitable to his company.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black Men, Black People, Gangsta Rap, Hip Hop, Philosophy, Racism


  1. It amazes me that we(so-called blacks) become startled, shocked, or astonished when people like Mr. Imus makes a comment that is racially derogatory. We need to wake up and realize that whites never have, and never will care about us. Just a couple months ago, we had that nut kramer
    go off on us. Did we forget? This is the way that 95% of America(including blacks) feel about our race. I’ve come to expect this from whites and other groups in this country. They hate us, just as Yah prophecied in Leviticus 26:13. Our enemies will continue to hate us. This is absolutely no surprise to me, it is prophecy of the Lord.
    On the other hand, these girls and their coach are talking about how hurt they are by those comments. GIVE ME A BREAK!!! Each and everyone of those women have listened to Snoop, 50 cent, and many other rappers degrade women in a fashion that would make Imus look like a saint. So please!!! I guarantee these young ladies have been at a recent party where there were songs generalizing women as hos, bitches, or skeezers. Drink my “you know what” up and all that stuff. Did that hurt them? Hell no!!! You know why, they continued to dance to, and enjoy it. Bunch of hypocrites.
    The bottom line is, as long as we continue to follow the ways of the pagans and not adhere to the laws of the Lord, we will stay in the state that we are in. Tell the truth, what has changed for so-called blacks since the 1950’s besides being able to follow the ways of the pagans(Jobs, schools, a little wealth)? None of those things have anything to do with keeping the laws of our Lord. That is why we still become surprised when a white person says “nigger.” We think that we are in now. They’ve accepted us into their society. BULLSHIT!!! They still hate us. And we would understand that if we hearkened to the word of our Lord. But until then, we well continue to walk around blindly not understanding why everyone hates us. To better understand this, just pick up a Holy Bible and read. Specifically, Leviticus chapter 26 and Deuteronomy chapter 28.

    Comment by Shawn | Wednesday, April 11, 2007 | Reply

  2. Shawn, I agree with we (African Americans) are continuing a battle with Whites from way back. But I don’t agree with the generalization of each women of the basketball team listening to demoralizing songs. Remember, every one of these women have individual personalities. You can’t be the judge and the juror on that one.

    Comment by Iyawo Taiwo Obatala | Friday, April 13, 2007 | Reply

  3. I can understand your point Iyawo. After I posted the comment, I realized that I had generalized the entire team as listening to these songs. As individuals, I “DO” truely believe that each of these women have HEARD a song in the past year that degraded women. They play these songs on the PA system in the Arenas where their games take place. And they probably didn’t think twice about the lyrics. And that is my point, if they can shrug off some Young Jeezy lyrics, why did Don Imus’ comments bother them soooooooo much?
    This is only my opinion Iyawo. By no means am I attempting to be judge or juror on this issue. There is only ONE judge of all things.

    Comment by Shawn | Monday, April 16, 2007 | Reply

  4. I feel you but still have an opposition the generalization that all the girls have listened to Young Jeezy and excepted the lyrics. Just because they play it on the PA doesn’t mean that some don’t agree with the lyrics. That’s like saying that you were at a party and Young Jeezy came on and everyone in there didn’t think about the lyrics.

    But if you take a look, some do have conscious minds and choose not to dance to it. Then there are some who are intoxicated by alcohol, materialism, vanity, brainwashing and who knows what else that aren’t conscious. So the question goes to do you tell the dj not to play it in a public event or can one truly block the negativity and still exist in a positive state?

    I don’t know.. that’s just me.

    Comment by Iyawo Taiwo Obatala | Monday, April 16, 2007 | Reply

  5. Oh yes, alcohol, materialism, and vanity can definately play a major role in why these lyrics are not immediately picked up when heard. But, you are making my point for me. The lyrics in these songs go unnoticed by our beautiful sisters, whether it be at a public event or in private. It is not until a “white” person uses the N word or other racial remarks, when our entire community jumps up in a rage. Why can’t we “block” that out? This is hypocrisy to me. I’ve heard Snoop, Jay-Z, 50 cent, and countless other rappers call me a “nigga,” and call our sisters every name imagineable. Why then should I call Jesse Jackson, and Rev. Sharpton when a white man makes some racial remarks on a radio show that I don’t even listen to. These women didn’t listen to Imus in the morning the day the comments were made. But, were very distraught when someone reported it to them. Are they mad at Snoop for making “Bitches ain’t shit but hos and tricks” a popular punchline in our community? In fact, are you mad at Snoop for that?
    There are much worst otrocities that whites have committed against our people. We are yet to see justice for Emmett Till’s family, Willie Brown’s family, Bobby Hutton, and the list goes on. Reparations… These are the things I want white America to answer for. Everybody else is worried about name-calling, when we call each other these names daily. Let’s attack some real issues that the devil doesn’t want to answer. And remeber, it is the white media who made this thing bigger than what it is. It’s a game they play. They used Imus as a scapegoat for ALL of white America. They still know how to train our(well those who aren’t enlightened) minds. Some so-called blacks actually feel good that Imus got fired. Im not easily minipulated, there are much, much bigger issues that the devil must acknowledge.

    Comment by Shawn | Monday, April 16, 2007 | Reply

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