Gwen Ifill's response to Imus and his lying about calling her a cleaning lady and this whole Rutger's debacle

April 10, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor
Trash Talk Radio


LET’S say a word about the girls. The young women with the musical names. Kia and Epiphanny and Matee and Essence. Katie and Dee Dee and Rashidat and Myia and Brittany and Heather.

The Scarlet Knights of Rutgers University had an improbable season, dropping four of their first seven games, yet ending up in the N.C.A.A. women’s basketball championship game. None of them were seniors. Five were freshmen.

In the end, they were stopped only by Tennessee’s Lady Vols, who clinched their seventh national championship by ending Rutgers’ Cinderella run last week, 59-46. That’s the kind of story we love, right? A bunch of teenagers from Newark, Cincinnati, Brooklyn and, yes, Ogden, Utah, defying expectations. It’s what explodes so many March Madness office pools.

But not, apparently, for the girls. For all their grit, hard work and courage, the Rutgers girls got branded “nappy-headed ho’s” — a shockingly concise sexual and racial insult, tossed out in a volley of male camaraderie by a group of amused, middle-aged white men. The “joke” — as delivered and later recanted — by the radio and television personality Don Imus failed one big test: it was not funny.

The serial apologies of Mr. Imus, who was suspended yesterday by both NBC News and CBS Radio for his remarks, have failed another test. The sincerity seems forced and suspect because he’s done some version of this several times before.

I know, because he apparently did it to me.

I was covering the White House for this newspaper in 1993, when Mr. Imus’s producer began calling to invite me on his radio program. I didn’t return his calls. I had my hands plenty full covering Bill Clinton.

Soon enough, the phone calls stopped. Then quizzical colleagues began asking me why Don Imus seemed to have a problem with me. I had no idea what they were talking about because I never listened to the program.

It was not until five years later, when Mr. Imus and I were both working under the NBC News umbrella — his show was being simulcast on MSNBC; I was a Capitol Hill correspondent for the network — that I discovered why people were asking those questions. It took Lars-Erik Nelson, a columnist for The New York Daily News, to finally explain what no one else had wanted to repeat.

“Isn’t The Times wonderful,” Mr. Nelson quoted Mr. Imus as saying on the radio. “It lets the cleaning lady cover the White House.”

I was taken aback but not outraged. I’d certainly been called worse and indeed jumped at the chance to use the old insult to explain to my NBC bosses why I did not want to appear on the Imus show.

I haven’t talked about this much. I’m a big girl. I have a platform. I have a voice. I’ve been working in journalism long enough that there is little danger that a radio D.J.’s juvenile slap will define or scar me. Yesterday, he began telling people he never actually called me a cleaning lady. Whatever. This is not about me.

It is about the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. That game had to be the biggest moment of their lives, and the outcome the biggest disappointment. They are not old enough, or established enough, to have built up the sort of carapace many women I know — black women in particular — develop to guard themselves against casual insult.

Why do my journalistic colleagues appear on Mr. Imus’s program? That’s for them to defend, and others to argue about. I certainly don’t know any black journalists who will. To his credit, Mr. Imus told the Rev. Al Sharpton yesterday he realizes that, this time, he went way too far.

Yes, he did. Every time a young black girl shyly approaches me for an autograph or writes or calls or stops me on the street to ask how she can become a journalist, I feel an enormous responsibility. It’s more than simply being a role model. I know I have to be a voice for them as well.

So here’s what this voice has to say for people who cannot grasp the notion of picking on people their own size: This country will only flourish once we consistently learn to applaud and encourage the young people who have to work harder just to achieve balance on the unequal playing field.

Let’s see if we can manage to build them up and reward them, rather than opting for the cheapest, easiest, most despicable shots.

Gwen Ifill is a senior correspondent for “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer” and the moderator of “Washington Week.”


The Ugly Truth

I just finished reading this article, and again the comments by Imus supporters. The article did nothing but tell the truth. The man simply did not make a mistake his racist diatribe has been consistent throughout the years, the only difference is now he has crossed the line and attacked people who probably should not have been attacked.

It shows the difference between whites and blacks. Whites pointing a finger at rap and hip hop for Imus saying what he said, and failing to realize there has been initiatives in black publications and media for years to stop sexist lyrics and the use of the word "nigga". Whites have the luxury of forgetting about racism, black people do not, and this Imus nonsense shows that loud and clear. A white man says something racist, whites want to point the finger back at black people, talking about "our" music, as if hip hop and rap is all we have ever contributed to. They never want to mention young white males are the main supporters of this music, which is why it sells so well.

White men are up in arms, since they feel they are losing their rights (per the comments posted in response to this article). I am going to say this with glee. Welcome to the world of a minority. You are losing your age old affirmative action rights, even though not protected by law, are well protected by tradition, and I don't feel bad! Truth be known you have way too much power and wealth for you to ever have to worry about losing your rights. Poor white men they can't exclude women and minorities. I am sorry, I am just not sympathetic to your cause.



The Response By Idiots to Al Roker's Editorial on Imus


Al Roker wrote an opinion piece on Imus. Roker believes Imus should go. Imus got fired, Al Roker responded to that by saying he is not happy Imus is gone, but is applauding MSNBC for having morals. Yes I know MSNBC did not fire Imus because of their high moral fiber, but because they were losing advertising dollars by the truckload. What bothers me is not the Roker's editorial, but the response and outcry from idiots who will now boycott Al Roker and the Today show because their martyr Imus as fallen. The responses or so shallow and so idiotic, that I just have to respond.

I am posting actual quotes from people who are in an uproar over this:

"Mr. Roker..I do believe your stance against Imus is heavily based on all the hurts and slights against blacks from the beginning of time."

Uuuhhhhmmmmmmmmmm Do you think I am thinking of great, great, grandpa Cyrus and Great Aunt Beula picking cotton and being slaves when I think about the wrongs done to African Americans? If you are let me remind you RACISM IS STILL ALIVE AND WELL IN AMERICA. I just wanted to shout that from the tree tops. I am thinking about being racially profiled by cops. I think about people assuming I plan to steal from a store that they perceive, based upon my race, I am too poor to shop in. I am worried about being called a n*gger. I am still worried about towns like Vidor, TX, a town I literally lived 6 miles from as a child, but never visited because it is a town known as a "Sundown Town".

"It is a shameful thing Imus said and he should be punished, but in the same light he made a mistake that he is truly sorry for. What about forgiveness? what about taking a man for his word?"

You are acting as if Imus does not have a history of "making mistakes". Let me refer you to this article, where we can quote past Imus mistakes.

On blacks:

``Isn't The Times wonderful? It lets the cleaning lady cover the White House.'' (Referring to former New York Times reporter Gwen Ifill.)

``That colored fellow.'' (Referring to presidential candidate and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.)

``Quota hire.'' (Referring to New York Times sportswriter William Rhoden.)

``Two cooma-chucka, big-butted women.'' (Describing tennis players Venus and Serena Williams.)

``A one-eyed lawn jockey.'' (Referring to Sammy Davis Jr.)

On Jews:

``... Beanie-wearing Jew boy.'' (Describing Washington Post columnist Howard Kurtz.)

``Lenny the Jew.'' (Referring to sportscaster Len Berman.)

On Latinos:

``Chihuahua-looking ho.'' (Describing singer Gloria Estefan.)

On Palestinians:

``Stinking animals.''

Miscellaneous officials:

``That big lesbian.'' (Describing former Attorney General Janet Reno.)

``Here's my apology: Beso mi culo! How's that, gordo?'' (Inviting Bill Richardson, who is Latino, to kiss his rear end. Earlier, Imus had called the New Mexico governor a ``fat sissy'' and ``fat baby.'')

Imus is not some innocent who did a slip of the tongue, he has done this over and over for the past 30 years. If you can't understand why using the term "nappy headed hos" is offensive, especially due to the fact the people he were referring to were college girls playing basketball and not Lil' Kim, then you can't be helped.

Another quote I love is this one:

"When are Jesse Jackson and Sharpton going to be held to the same standards as they expect other to be held? When will we see them on every news station apologizing for the witch hunt they lead against the Duke Lacrosse players that were found completely innocent?"

What the hell does this have to do with the price of tea in China. Seriously. Imus called a bunch of women, white and black, "nappy headed hos" because they played basketball and had tattoos. They did not call him a name, they didn't know him, they didn't think about Imus until he mentioned them, and called them everything but a child of God. Duke players hire a bunch of prostitutes, call them derogatory names (which per their neighbors were in reference to the strippers/prostitutes being black), but since they didn't rape them, they are salt of the earth, wonderful boys who have had their futures stolen from them. In reality these boys will never have to worry about their future because they are white males with sympathy from white people who have power, money, and the influence to help and assist these people with their careers and lives. Of course to, if we relied solely upon the media, there has never been an instance of a black woman getting raped by white men ever. Whenever black rape victims make the headlines it is usually for lying, and apparently white women never lie about rape, because we rarely if ever hear about these things.

"Lucky for Don Rickles that his career was in a time when people new the difference between a bad joke and racism."

Yeah during segregation and the civil rights movement when blacks had no rights in the American South, yeah you could tell a nigger joke back then, no problem.

"I think Joe Scourborogh black guest said it best last nite... The old fart Imus did NOT just wake up with those words in his mind. He has heard them from YOUR black entertainment industry!!!"

Because there are black idiots, I as a black person must now be allowed to be called derogatory comments by non blacks. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Because black people do it, it is ok to call me something crazy. I am going to let the general public in on a little secret BLACK PEOPLE ARE NOT A HOMOGENOUS COLLECTIVE WITH GROUP THOUGHT. We do not all use the word "nigga" as a term of endearment, we do not all listen to Rap and R&B, and no we cannot all dance really, really well. My grandmother has never said it is acceptable to use the word "nigger" in her presence, my mother hasn't, my father hasn't. We don't all use the word, and we don't all encourage it. There has been outrage for years in the black community about offensive lyrics, but yet you guys want to pretend it doesn't exist. Just because you aren't aware, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

All these comments in general to me want to deflect attention from the fact that Imus said something offensive and was wrong, and it doesn't matter how much wrong there is in the world, two wrongs still do not make a right. It shouldn't be ok to called those women what he called them. It shouldn't be swept under the rug. Racism still exists because people want to pretend they are enlightened and unaware of race, when in reality race plays an important role at least for many african americans, on a constant basis.


Grindhouse...Go See It

Yesterday me and my husband went to go see Grindhouse. Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino are both awesome!!!!!! Go See it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Both movies rocked, the fake previews rock, the fact you are seeing two movies for the price of one rocked!!!!

Oh my god I am so old I am saying it rocked to feel as if I got a damn bargain.


Shaquanda Cotton Freed

I guess since people took notice, the justice system fixed it's little mistake

Girl in prison for shove released

By Howard Witt
Tribune senior correspondent
Published March 31, 2007, 8:41 PM CDT

HOUSTON -- After spending a year behind bars, Shaquanda Cotton walked out of a central Texas youth prison Saturday pretty much like many 15-year-olds would: eager for a hug from her mom and pining for a Big Mac.

So McDonald's was the first stop for the soft-spoken black teenager, who was abruptly released by Texas officials after nationwide civil rights protests erupted over her sentence of up to 7 years for shoving a teacher's aide at her high school.

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To some in Paris, sinister past is back
March 12, 2007

Juvenile justice on trial in Texas
March 27, 2007

Girl in prison for shove gets released early
March 31, 2007

March 26, 2007

"I feel like I have a second chance," she said, moments after devouring her hamburger. "I'm going to be a better person now. I'm a good person, but I want to be a better person."

Soon after the restaurant stop, though, Cotton and her mother Creola headed out on the five-hour drive from the prison in Brownwood back home to Paris, the small northeast Texas town that has been roiled by protests and racial acrimony over her case and broader allegations of racial discrimination in the town's schools and courts.

What reception awaits the teenager there in coming days is anyone's guess, but her mother says she is concerned.

"I don't want to place my daughter in danger," Creola Cotton said. "I hope we can stay in Paris because this is where my family is. I would hate to have to pick up and leave."

At the heart of the controversy, which exploded across hundreds of Internet blogs and then scores of newspapers and radio and TV stations in the last three weeks, was the seeming severity of the teenager's sentence for an offense that caused no documentable injury to the teacher's aide.

Three months before Cotton, who had no prior criminal record, was sentenced by Paris Judge Chuck Superville in March, 2006, to up to seven years in youth prison for the shoving incident, Superville sentenced a 14-year-old white girl convicted of the more serious crime of arson to probation. Later, when the white teenager violated her probation, Superville gave her yet another chance and declined to send her to prison. Only when the youth violated her probation a second time did the judge order her locked up.

School officials, the Paris district attorney and the judge have all strongly denied that race played a role in the prosecution and sentencing of Cotton. But her case has coincided with an ongoing investigation of the Paris school district by the U.S. Department of Education, which is examining allegations that the district systemically discriminates against black students by disciplining them more frequently and more harshly than whites.

The furor over Cotton's case caused the special conservator now in charge of the Texas Youth Commission, the state's juvenile prison system, to examine it more closely last week, at the urging of civil rights leaders.

The conservator, Jay Kimbrough, who is charged with completely overhauling the Texas Youth Commission because of a spreading sex scandal involving prison officials who allegedly coerced sex from inmates, decided Friday that Shaquanda merited immediate release.

Kimbrough said his decision was not based on the circumstances of the teenager's prosecution and sentence but rather on the arbitrary way in which her indeterminate sentence had been extended by prison authorities since she had been incarcerated. Authorities penalized her because she was found with "contraband" in her cell—an extra pair of socks.

"The TYC staff brought that file in to me [Friday] morning and were so surprised by what they saw that they felt like immediate action was justified, and I supported that wholeheartedly," Kimbrough said.

Cotton was the first of an estimated 400 juveniles incarcerated across the state whom Kimbrough has ordered released, beginning Monday. Those youths have all satisfied their minimum sentences and have committed no serious violations while in custody.

Kimbrough has also convened a special review panel to examine the sentences of all 4,700 juveniles in Texas Youth Commission custody, with the goal of releasing any whose sentences have been unjustly extended by prison authorities.

"This is the right thing to do and TYC could have and should have done it long before Mr. Kimbrough took over," said Will Harrell, executive director of the Texas chapter of the ACLU. "Shaquanda was the first domino, but there will be hundreds if not thousands to follow."


Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

Circuit City: Heartless and Cruel

You hire people who work for you, do a great job, and you give them raises.......that is great. Now. you have decided to fire all those people and replace them with folks making about half of what the former employees made. Classy. Did any executive management take pay cuts to helpo out ailing Circuit City?


Circuit City plan: Bold strategy or black eye?
Retailer firing 3,400 workers to replace them with lower-paid substitutes
By Eve Tahmincioglu
Updated: 2:21 p.m. CT March 29, 2007

When U.S. manufacturers want to cut labor costs they often close up shop and head for a Third World country to find cheap labor. But when retailers want to cut costs they don’t have that option because they need stores in American towns if they want to sell to Americans.

Circuit City has found a unique way around this conundrum. On Wednesday officials at the struggling electronics retailer announced they would fire 3,400 of their highest-paid clerks and replace them with workers who will take less money, essentially hoping to find their own bargain-basement work force right here in the good old USA.

It’s all part of a plan to save money and cut costs for the big-box chain, which also reduced sales growth expectations this week. By shutting stores, outsourcing its IT department and cutting 9 percent of its 40,000 store employees, the company hopes to save $110 million in its current fiscal year and $140 million next year, says Circuit City spokesman Jim Babb.

“The essential need we have was to bring expenses of our business into line with current marketplace realities. We acknowledge this is a painful step,” says Babb, referring to the firings.

Indeed, it’s probably a major ouch for workers who are being pink-slipped not because of their performance but solely because they were making more money than the company deemed appropriate. “These were folks who through no fault of their own were being paid more than what the hourly wage range was in their markets,” Babb explains.

How they ended up earning the above-market wages is a puzzler, because Circuit City’s managers presumably approved the pay levels.

I asked Babb if store managers were just too generous in compensating their workers, and after a long pause he said: “I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.”

Babb would not comment on how much Circuit City workers make or what these new lower-wage employees would be offered.

Circuit City employees who included their salary information on Vault.com reported making anywhere from $8 to $15 an hour for sales work. The federal minimum wage is $5.15 an hour, although many states require a higher minimum. Congress is moving ahead on a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour over two years.

That leaves Kevin Clark, an assistant professor of management at Villanova School of Business, to ask, “Where will Circuit City find quality workers at a significantly lower wage?”

Circuit City doesn’t seem to be worried.

“We have and continue to pay competitive wages in our stores, and we will find people who take these jobs,” Babb predicts.

David Lewis, president of OperationsInc., a human resources consultancy, agrees that you can always find people to take the jobs, but he believes Circuit City’s move ultimately will weaken the organization. “It will give them short-term gains, but for the long term it’s like shooting yourself in both feet with a howitzer,” he notes.

Most employees who take on a new job hope to someday get a raise, but the message Circuit City is sending, Lewis says, is “don’t progress that much, because eventually you’ll become to expensive and get fired.”

Alas, the cheaper workforce Circuit City seeks may end up coming from among the very people they are now letting go. While all the terminated workers will be given severance packages based on their years of service, they will all have the opportunity to reapply for their same jobs after a 10–week period — presuming they are willing to accept a lower wage, of course.

While many human resource professionals were stunned by Circuit City’s bold announcement, on expert believes the company deserves praise for its candor.

"Circuit City has been very up front about the fact that this is a cost-cutting move in order align its costs more closely with industry averages," said David Urban, professor of marketing at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where Circuit City is based. "Electronics retailing is a tough business, with a lot of pressure on profit margins. Therefore, the major players in that business have to seek efficiencies wherever they can.”

Not everyone agrees.

Career and human resources expert Roberta Chinsky Matuson doesn’t expect other companies to follow Circuit City’s lead.

“Smart competitors will see this as an opportunity to hire those talented people that Circuit City just let go,” she says "“The guy at Circuit City who came up with this ‘strategy’ should be fired."

Aside from the impact on workers, consumers can expect some customer-service hiccups since many of their higher-wage earners, who probably have more experience, are leaving. “We expect to be able to hire and train good people,” says Babb, “but anytime there’s a major change in our stores there always a chance for some volatility for a while.”

“The move sends a chilling message to other employees and can be expected to have a significant negative effect on the work climate in Circuit City's stores," says Villanova's Clark, noting that Circuit City appears to be terminating sales floor personnel.

"From a strategy perspective, customer-facing sales personnel would appear to be a core resource and potential differentiator for a consumer products retailer," he says. "Especially in an era of rapidly changing and more complex consumer electronics, knowledgeable sales personnel who are perceived by customers as 'experts' can be a source of competitive advantage.”

But for many it all comes down to the best deal. Electronics retailing, like so many businesses, is becoming all about price, adds Urban, the Virginia Commonwealth professor. Consumers, he adds, aren’t fixated on customer service; they want to save $20 on a computer.

Still, there are successful companies that focus on making their workers happy and thus create a better experience for the consumer, says Linda Ford, a corporate culture consultant. “Look at great companies like Southwest Airlines, who understand that happy employees make for happy customers. Companies like these can create a market and then dominate it because the people are invested in the success of the company, not because they can hire cheaper labor than their competitors.”
© 2007 MSNBC Interactive