Gwen Ifill has an op-ed at the New York Times today about Don Imus's comments last week. Here's a bit:
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.It sums up in many ways what I've been thinking about this whole incident since Imus made his comments last week. Here you have a group of hard-working young people who accomplished a lot, but also didn't win the NCAA championship in the end. I'm sure they were fully prepared for that outcome. But could they have been fully prepared for a couple of old white men to diminish what they did, to completely erase it in one powerful comment?
I don't follow college basketball. I don't follow any sport for that matter. So I probably never would have known that Rutgers played in the NCAA women's basketball championship game if it weren't for what Imus said. Now when thinking about these people or this event his comment will be the first thing that I think of.
And so will Google. Several years from now when these women are applying for jobs, their prospective employers may google their names, and the first thirty or so returns will probably be related to Don Imus calling them "nappy-headed ho's." Because ahead of all of their accomplishments in the national consciousness is a white guy with far more voice and far more political sway than the whole team collectively and each of them individually.
And that's what this story is about. It's not about Imus and whether he's a good person or not, as much as he promises us that he is. He was entrusted with a whole lot of power, he abused that trust and that power to erase the individuality of several young women, and he has repeatedly shown that he does not merit that trust.
That's why it should be game-over for Don Imus. The Scarlet Knight triumphed over many obstacles to be able to play in that game last week. They shouldn't have to be punished with another, completely unfair obstacle afterwards.