First and foremost, the stories of the scholar athletes were OVERLOOKED. I watched the footage of those 10 young women, and listened to their coach tell their stories. Stories about scholars, hard work, perseverance, and brilliance – one of these young women is even an accomplished classical pianist. I looked at their faces and saw my 7-year daughter – a buffed aspiring athlete – and I cried for them, for my little girl, and for all of us. I cried for their ugly introduction to race in America at a time when they should have been celebrating an accomplishment so outstanding most of us will never experience. I promised myself that I would not open my mouth to speak about this MESS without first honoring these young women and their incredible stories of accomplishment. Mr. Imus’s unconscionable and despicable remarks, as well as the media circus that has followed, have had the distressing effect of diminishing these incredible stories.
My second thought is as the old African-American saying goes – Imus cannot steal our joy. To me, this is not really about Imus, and quite frankly I could care less if he is a racist. He probably should lose his job, but quite frankly I have thought very little about that. Whether he is suspended, loses sponsors, viewers or is fired: this will happen again. Either Imus or someone else will do it UNLESS THERE IS REAL AND SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE IN AMERICA.
The REAL issue is deeper, more important than Imus. What does this say about racism in America ? Is it permanent, as my dear Prof. Derrick Bell argues in Faces at the Bottom of the Well? Is it in the air, do we breathe it in w/o even knowing or feeling it? What does this say about the need for us to TAKE ACTION yes AFFIRMATIVE ACTION toward real inclusion, real solutions, and real democracy in this country. And most importantly, what are YOU AND YOU AND I going to do about it?