Imus, rap and women

Imus was fired first and foremost because he’s a racist. If he had only called the heroic women of Rutgers ho’s, he might have gotten suspended, but I doubt — unfortunately — there would have been such a brouhaha. By adding the phrase “nappy-headed” to his producer’s “ho” diss, Imus went way way too far, in most people’s minds. He added a general, obvious racist stereotype to the merely racially inflected misogyny. Big mistake.

So it’s been somewhat amazing to see the dialogue continue over the use of the word ho’s, and Imus’s comments boomerang back to the rap community. On the one hand, I think it’s wrong to blame Imus’s racism on rap; in that sense I agree with Russell Simmons. On the other hand, not even Russell can deny that many rappers have long had a problem with sexism. And since racism, sexism, and all other prejudices are inevitably inextricably linked, I’m happy to see the discussion of hate language continue.

Meanwhile, black women are taking on and tackling hip-hop machismo in other ways. The Village Voice has a fascinating cover story this week on AGs, gay women who adopt thug styles. And in her great video for “Like a Boy”, R&B singer Ciara — a woman who’s been previously sadly known to do the usual on-the-floor video grovel — struts it like a G magnificently.

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