Thank You Don Imus!

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Don Imus is an easy target. 

Almost no one, overtly anyway, would come to his defense regarding his latest outrageous, blatantly racist remark about the Rutgers Women basketball team. 

We all know that Imus’ intention was to insult and thereby raise the hackles of most human beings with the kind of racial sensibilities I would like to think intelligent human beings possess. 

I don’t think Imus believed his remark would provoke the kind of backlash it has. Really. It just points to the moronic thick headedness of the man. He deserves to swallow everything that is on his plate as a result.
His is the latest of the series of racist conflagrations of celebrities that have occurred recently. Mel Gibson’s and Michael Richards’ tirades are just two of the most publicized examples of the overt racism alive and well in Hollywood.

Imus’ remarks have provided a service of sorts, however. What it has done is to place an exclamation point on the need of American society to look at its soul regarding the pernicious and insidious racial cancer that continues to eat at our moral well being. 

We need to get beyond the defensive rationalizations on the one hand, and the self-serving self-flagellation that characterize racial dialogue. We need to put aside the righteous posturing and blame-putting to a more constructive conversation on bridging the racial divide.

Racism continues to be a problem deep in the soul of white America. The conversation surely must include them. But the rapidly changing dynamics of American society point to another need that is equally urgent for all people of color. It is the issue my friend Eric Yamamoto has labeled interracial justice.

By this term he is emphasizing the need of people of color to see the ways in which the demonic reach of racism touches our relations with one another. It is the Korean shopkeeper stereotyping the African American teens in his neighborhood. It is the resentment of African Americans toward Hispanics moving into the neighborhood and taking jobs. It is the lack of solidarity of all other people of color with our Arab brothers and sisters. As long as we persist in these behaviors and attitudes, we will weaken us all. 

As a Japanese American, I have often quipped that historically my ancestors have alienated all our Asian neighbors. We have invaded and oppressed and violated just about every other nation in Asia. These historical enmities became evident at many points in history. When the Japanese Americans were being rounded up during World War II on the west coast to be put in internment camps, other Asians distanced themselves from the Japanese. 

A colleague of mine on a business trip in Texas was eating in a Chinese restaurant owned and operated by Mexican Americans. My colleague has a preference for Mexican beer and ordered one. The woman who waited on him, a Mexican American, was indignant. She replied, “Sir, we are not Mexican; we are Texans.” And she was dead serious. The point is we all have work to do in our communities of color and between communities of color.

So Don Imus, as heinous as your comments were, you have made us painfully aware of the need to deepen and broaden the racial and inter-racial dialogue.

Black Star News contributor Wallace Ryan Kuroiwa is with The United Church of Christ


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