The Art of Diversion

I’m sure nobody will be surprised to hear that Don Imus is now trying to blame his racist comments on hip-hop culture. It’s pretty much the knee-jerk reaction these days for any public personality that lets loose with ignorant diatribes and then has to scramble to find some way to explain themselves. Apparently the radio host is now saying that he learned the term “nappy headed hos” from hip-hop music. Which is absurd.

First of all, I highly doubt that dude is bumping rap tracks in his spare time. I’d be shocked if he could correctly identify the name of any hip-hop song on the radio right now. Second—as Davey D already pointed out in his excellent essay on the subject—since when was that term bandied around in hip-hop music anyway? I can’t recall ever hearing a rapper refer to a black woman that way.

The thing that’s so mind-blowingly irritating about Don Imus dragging hip-hop into the mix is that it obscures the real issue. Which I suppose is the point of employing that PR strategy. People stop thinking about how a major cultural figure—a man who has had a prominent voice in American culture for decades, who has loads of influence—harbors such vitriol for black people. People stop thinking about what’s wrong with White America. Instead, they are invited to focus on the sexism of young, black male rappers. Introducing hip-hop into the discussion totally, completely muddies the waters.

For proof of how this works, one need look no further than Snoop’s comments on MTV News:

It’s a completely different scenario. [Rappers] are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports. We’re talking about ho’s that’s in the ‘hood that ain’t doing sh–, that’s trying to get a n—a for his money. These are two separate things. First of all, we ain’t no old-ass white men that sit up on MSNBC going hard on black girls. We are rappers that have these songs coming from our minds and our souls that are relevant to what we feel. I will not let them mutha—-as say we in the same league as him. Kick him off the air forever.

On the one hand, Snoop makes some excellent points. The Rutgers team is a group of young women who are striving to get an education and excel at sports. Their behavior in the media since this controversy exploded has shown them to be mature, classy individuals. Of course they don’t deserve to be insulted by a vulgar radio personality. But then, on the other hand, neither do women in the hood. And it’s troubling that Snoop feels like they do. It’s troubling that that’s what he feels in his “mind and soul.” His comments, however well intentioned, wind up encouraging people to contemplate sexism in hip-hop (paving the way for articles like this), as opposed to focusing on the real issue at hand—which is the fact that Don Imus is a raging asshole.

All of this is why hip-hop makes such an ideal scapegoat in these types of situations. Hip-hop’s weakness—it’s collective sexism—exposes it to becoming some sort of twisted justification for blatant, ugly racism in white culture. It’s wrong. It’s infuriating. But it’s a tremendously effective PR strategy.

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  • Dr Flav

    I think the most harmful aspect of all this is that these women are being over victimized. Imus said some foul shit, but it should not give these women a complex, I would think black women have thicker skins than this, especially athletes. Free speech should not be hindered, Im glad he said it, let me know what kind of thought process you have. He shouldnt have been fired, punished yes. Watch how this will be turned around to hurt blacks more than its shallow attempt to defend them.

  • panthergod

    yeah..thjey’re chompin at the bit to blame White racism on hip hop.
    the only problem is, these ignorant coon rappers make them right.

  • thoreauly77

    snoop dog himself has been quoted in his lyrics as using the term “nappy headed hoe”. and the real issue here is not that imus was dropped for being an asshole, a racist, or a racist asshole; the real issue is that the backlash over his remarks has cost the networks valuable advertising dollars. imus has a well-documented history as a racist, on record, yet until this recent outburst has been able to maintain his position as a dime-store howard stern. yes, he should lose his job, hell he should have a long time ago for all his bullshit. it doesn’t matter much anyhow at this point because now he will just jump on some right-wing talk show and be able to spout his real feelings about non-whites, but this time without any censoring.

  • Simply Devine

    Very effective.

  • NoMamesBuey

    why don’t you comment on a true racist like mAnn Coulter, who says stuff 1000x than Don Imus.

    Imus may be a moron, possibly may be a racist, but shouldn’t have gotten fired. What about free speech.

    If anyone should be fired, it should be someone who repeatedly shows extreme racism & xenophobia, like mAnn Coulter

  • thatdukeSuave

    The thing is, yeah, dude fucked up and said some foul shit that should never have been in his mind, let alone come out of his mouth. But Imus has a well documented past of generosity, as he has given millions for cancer research, facilities, and numerous other charitable causes out of his own pocket. True, these donations weren’t directed toward any specified ethniticity, and it may be considered trite in light of his statements, but he isn’t as much of a ‘raging asshole’ as it would seem. But burn him at the stake if you like, just don’t let his recent deplorable actions define him and blur out his contributions in other areas.

  • John Cochran

    “Of course they don’t deserve to be insulted by a vulgar radio personality. But then, on the other hand, neither do women in the hood”
    I see you’ve never been to the hood. Yes,some women in the hood do deserve it. People act like these steroetypes of black people come out of thin air. Some of my sisters are “nappy headed hoes”. It’s more common to see a hoe in the hood than it is to see intelligent, talented athletes who are striving for something. He said what he said cause he has no respect for blacks. You know why, cause we dont have respect for ourselves.

  • Incilin

    Lmao, I can totally see Don Imus bumping “Aint Nothin But A G Thang” right about now.

  • Bump

    Dr Flav is logged in as ^ Somebody named eskay needs to get on his function, if he is site programmer that is. I could be on some mad spam ish, but I have no internet wares for sale.

  • The DJ Formerly Known as N-CREDIBLE

    I see nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade if a female sleeps around with a lot of men she is a hoe. End of story.

  • these posts are racist


    “I see nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade if a female sleeps around with a lot of men she is a hoe. End of story.”

    With all due respect my brother, that’s out of order. Calling a woman a hoe is a way to subjegate her and put her down, similar to a white calling a black person the “N” word. Its not right.

  • Sinistah aka Sin Piff

    ahh who hasn’t blamed hip-hop. we’ve been called “mo’s” “yo’s” and “ho’s” for many years in some circles of society.

    I guess being that hip-hop is obviously more than just a music, but indeed a multicultural lifestyle, probably the most dominant, is the reason we have to be the scapegoat for one’s exposure of ignorance. I’m pretty sure as one comedian pointed-out, we probably all have our own concealed thoughts of racism, me myself i aint too keen of watchin them old slave-themed movies no more because of a certain reaction i get after dwelling on those events being actual fact.

    I personally think someone is trying to actually assasinate the culture as whole, we have artists being blamed for one commiting acts of violence just because the person happened to own the artists CD. Its like they fail to realize this shit has been going on before hip-hop.

    you gotta realize these terms have been used before hip-hop and being as reflective of society as a hip-hop artist should be, sometimes we just call it as we see it. In retrospect we all have crossed what one may consider a “nappy-headed ho” in our own personal definition of the term.

    As fucked up as it may seem, maybe thats just how he “viewed” them to be in his own stereotypical ignorance, because he didn’t know anything of those young productive ladies outside of they didn’t physically appeal to him for him to publically say what he said.

    Hopefully due to instances like this, we can work on today’s world and reset a few old standards of life for new ways of civility in the future.

    but hey! maybe i’m crazy……

  • Dr Flav

    I hear you TPAR, but I have to go with the duck theory; walks like, quacks like, must be… I give all women the benefit of the doubt, but it is what it is unfortunately or even fortunately if its closing time at the club! lol

  • yung ceasa

    yeah tara i agree with you almost wholehardtly but i disagree with wat you said about snoop cause snoop is right, therre are women who dont wanna do anything, but keep they hands out or in a dudes wallet. snoop made all valid points, imus shouldnt dare blame hip-hop for his comments, which in my opinion were prolly more sexist than racist, cause rappers are story-tellers, poets, artist….and like all artists at one time or another all extremely misunderstood. oh and check this link out and tell me this aint some bullshit

  • kay

    no worse than what many black men have to say about black women in so called ‘popular’ music and film- we’ve made it the norm to insult each other (how often do we hear triflin, scrub, ho etc in black songs) and we now wonder why others do the same? i give it 12 months for Imus to be back in the limelight.

  • Federal Ranga

    Damn, was feeling this post at first… then she goes tryna defend hoes in da hood. For what? Whatchu gonna say next, the bitch who got the golden shower from R. Kelly is misunderstood and confused?

  • che

    I wouldn’t say women in the hood per se, but there are some pretty scandalous ones. but its the same with guys, lazy, ignorant, whatever. it’s just different when you say something bad about a woman. it’s always worse than calling a man the same alternative thing.

  • che

    and in regards to don imus, everyone tacitly knows exactly what he meant when he said that. his career is based on controversial comments, much like bol (and his stan billy). The dude even has a license to carry a gun because he says such outlandish shit, something to think about bol.

  • Definition

    a woman who does nothing other than go after a man’s money (which is what Snoop says) is a ho.

    I’m sure if there was a male equivalent, there would be a similar derogatory term as well.

    Therefore i fail to see the sexism in what Snoop said.

  • Yoda

    I don’t get it, Tara. Now you are defending women who live like hoes? Snoop said he wasn’t speaking on all women, he was speaking on women who don’t do shit with their lives and are always looking to take shit from their “man”. A hoe is a hoe. So you’re saying if a deadbeat father does nothing for their seed they shouldn’t be called such? Why are you so close minded when it comes to these issues of gender?

  • T.R.E.Y.

    Yoda basically said what i was gonna say. “misogyny” is a word that’s thrown around way too much, ‘specially when nothin’ gets said about man-bashing when it happens.


    Ban Gangsta rap.

    That will improve lives of all Black people.

  • ImAVirginAt23

    Yeah, my name is true. I figure I’m gonna die that way.

  • hannah smith

    ” Apparently the radio host is now saying that he learned the term “nappy headed hos” from hip-hop music. Which is absurd.”

    What hip-hop music do you actually listen to? Just Lupe Fiasco? Without hip-hop it’s pretty much a sure bet that a term like that wouldn’t be out there in the mainstream.

    Looks like Tara-Lara did a doo-doo in her panties…


    snoop said that most rappers use the word bitch and ho when talking about females. who try to get your money but don’t try to do anything with there own lives. in you own words what is that tara? thats not lazy because these women will do anything to get your cash. they are not dumb because some women live good off getting shit from other men. i know a girl right now who fucks with three dudes and she has more money than i do. she has a yukon and lots of clothes and jewels. also you think she pays that rent hell no and last but not least you think she has a job. hahahaha yeah right so yes she is a ho. If a guy did the same thing he would be called a ho as well. where is the sexism tara???

  • mars

    Free speech nuthin. The man is a friggin emplyee. He speaks for a living. If his emplyers dont like his speech then they can fire his ass. Simple as…If he wants to get at them for wrongful dismissal then they can do it in a courtroom and settle in the hallways and no-one needs to know who gets what in the end. I am glad he got fired, thats disrespectful and like it or not there is a double-standard right now because whites are paying atonement for the advantages they have inherited by virtue of ages long abuse of blacks. Don’t tell me about the poor toothless uneducated whites who got nothing and didnt abuse blacks. In a certain repsect no-one is innocent, and if they are toothless and uneducated now well it just translates that they simply might have been even worse off if not for social and economic advantage their folks had for generations over black-folk.

  • Gate13

    I aint from the states and i dont know nothin bout this Don Imus shit other than what ive read on this site. I think that it was right for him to lose his job but i also think that everyone is missing the bigger picture.

    What i mean is that this sort of shit probably happens very often but the world is not there to hear it often. It is a cultural problem that can only be solved if everyone has the will to solve it and actually wants it to be solved.(It is crazy that the govornment of the most powerfull country in the world has spent billions on wars and doesnt seem to have spent a cent on culturaly educating its people or raising equality)

    Now will someone please make some comment about me not knowing anything because i aint from the states to prove my point.


    Gate13 our president is george bush that explains everything wrong with america hahahahahah


    gate 13 the reason the u.s. has problems is because our president is george w bush thats all i gotta say

  • David

    I do believe that Don Imus’ should have been punished, but I have some problems with the way that this situation was handled from all sides.

    First of all, I have to question the way this issue was covered by the media. They spend the entire year essentially ignoring black people and black culture, and then this happens and they interview every person with pigment that they can find. (“You’ve heard what the Wayans brothers have to say, now hear Billy Dee Williams’ take!”) Where were these people the rest of the year? Why didn’t they interview any black people about the Presidential Elections or about the War in Iraq? Why do black people only get to comment on “black issues”? Are their opinions not valid otherwise? If they aren’t talking about Katrina or Don Imus the news stations return to their proper “just-black-enough-to-be-pc” proportions (12 white people, 1 asian, 1 black guy, 1 latino woman).

    Secondly, it makes me sick how irresponsibly and sensationally people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton respond to these issues time after time. Listen, what Don Imus said was racist and insensitive and offensive and whatever you want to call it, but he doesn’t deserve the beating he received from all sides in response to this. In this situation, Don Imus was so obviously wrong that his actions were completely indefensible. I have a hard time believing that anyone that supports Brown v. B.O.E. could have argued the Don Imus’ classification of the Rutgers Basketball Team was valid. It got to the point where every public figure felt a responsibility to publicly denounce Don Imus’ comments. At a certain point it gets to be overkill, we all know Imus’ comments were despicable. There’s no reason to continue to pound a guy whom everyone knows was wrong.

    I don’t think that Imus deserved to be fired…yet. I do think that people had the right to be offended. I understand that as a white male, I am inherently unable to relate to black culture, and my opinions are therefore invalidated, but I honestly cannot support someone losing their job simply because of something they said. If Don Imus’ comments, are offensive enough to get people to stop listening to his radio show, then his show’s poor ratings would have gotten him fired for poor performance anyway. People say that if Imus’ employers were insulted by his comments then they have a right to be fired. The simple fact is, his employers weren’t insulted, they were faced with an angry mob thirsting for blood, and they weren’t about to get themselves caught up in the stampede. I know his employers weren’t insulted because his employers are the same old, powerful white men who not only allow rappers to use the term “ho” but encourage it. (by the way, this articles claim that the word “ho” is no longer prevalent in hip-hop is unfounded, I would like to see some evidence other than the author’s “memory” that the word “ho” is actually used less commonly in hip-hop)
    I wish CBS would have kept Imus on the radio, just so that the black community would have the opportunity to boycott the program. This would have sent such a more positive message of black solidarity than the mob mentality that has resulted. I’m afraid that the current situation has done more to advance the “angry black man” stereotype that it has to promote racial tolerance and equality.

    I was hesitant to post this because I didn’t know whether anyone would be offended by my opinions. I didn’t want to be branded as an ignorant white guy with latently racist opinions. But I realized that I couldn’t morally let Don Imus create an atmosphere of de facto censorship that divides black culture and white culture and seriously threatens the civil rights of all Americans.

  • the don

    I dont understand this defending of hoes. When a woman goes out and does a bunch of things that are nasty and ho-like everybody wants to defend her and say she is just misunderstood and blah blah. I mean there are plenty of respectable women out there that you wouldnt call a ho and shouldnt even be phased by it if it doesnt pretain to them. But this strange notion that one is born with respect due to what lies between their legs and not their actions is weak and a cop-out.

  • Rizzop

    . “Of course they don’t deserve to be insulted by a vulgar radio personality. But then, on the other hand, neither do women in the hood”…….uuuummm sorry to tell you, but there is a reason the words nappy headed hos exist…because they exist! Ive even heard women call other women hoes, so to say they dont exist is to be in denial….Rappers arent talkin about all women in general..they are talkin about the women that shit on men for their money, make false rape allegations, steal, take niggas kids away from them, call the police making false charges, and fuckin every man possible to get ahead in the world (actually they just make money on the strip, but it has evolved over the years)But the bottom line is, they do exist. That white man just used it to describe women he doesnt even know, so he of course, should be smacked up. But when rappers say it, its because in his/her experience people like that have been around. So please, stop giving these mappy headed hoes passes

  • P-Matik

    “Imus may be a moron, possibly may be a racist, but shouldn’t have gotten fired. What about free speech.”

    This is something I am always seeing in these comments “what about free speech?”

    What you all need to realize is that the 5th Amendment to the Constitution secures your right to free speech and that’s it. Once you’ve said what you have to say, it offers you no other protection. You have to face the consequences henceforth.

  • BklynBandette

    Everything in life comes with consequences. Women who sleep around are then labeled hoes. Okay. But Imus talking slick is supposed to be overlooked for the sake of free speech? Come on Brothas get it right.

    There is no denying there are Hoes in the Hood. There’s one … HUNDRED in every city near you. Problem is those are the chicks dudes will be knocking themselves over to get next to. You don’t want her in ya pockets? Overstood. And You’re RIGHT! But then you’ll meet a sister like myself, who writes her own ticket and makes things happen daily, and tell me that I’m too independent. Which is it? Where is the balance? Where is the equillibrium? When you speak or sing of only one type of woman to the world (White America) you give the impression that this is all we have to offer. And that is where HipHop played it’s role in all this: The Rappers for spreading the news, and US for co-signing. We created an avenue for the enemy to talk slick to us and about us, then flip the script and wanna hide behind us. And, I’m a bit tight that more people seem concerned with protecting Imus than our Rutgers sisters, who did No-Thing to No-One.

    Can’t Stand Hoes? Keep Ya Dick Out of Them! (They So Dirty). And then you wanna make songs about them? STOP SINGING HER PRAISES! I wouldn’t give her that kind of satisfaction. Hoes are like Children- They don’t care if it’s Negative or Positive they want the ATTENTION. No matter what I’ve been through with a Black Man, I’m still gonna see the good in you. I would never CONSTANTLY put your dirty laundry out there for all of White America’s Entertainment. Then, invite them in for the Reindeer Games. Come on now …

    Just A Woman’s Perspective.
    Holla if ya Hear me …

  • Al

    Let’s talk about the real problem going on in the african american culture. Why do you call each other the N word? It was a word created by hate. Your ancestors who sufferred through slavery are rolling in their graves. And all you do whenever you use that word is spit in their faces. Ignorance is something that first has to be corrected in your own culture if you want other races to respect yours.

  • http://www, Billy Dee Jammin fm

    Hoe ,nappy ,etc . These are terms that need never to be used at anytme or anyone , Frankly Iam pissed anytime Ihear it. BUT There is a double standard!IF it is bad for one it’s bad for all! Imus should not have use those terms nor any else.

  • yung ceasa

    yung ceasa Says:

    April 24th, 2007 at 10:21 am
    im beggin one of you bloggers to speak on how white america is tryin to destroy hip-hop, just because of tha imus controversy they wanna blame everything on rap, stop snitchin is wat i been raised up on….along with millions of others and alot of those are current rappers, im just beggin one of you to do a post about this, cause its a very serious issue if you are either a rap fan or a person that came up in tha inner city….this is somethin that needs to be spoken on

  • thoreauly77

    come back to us tara.

  • EdwardcTed

    Even so