TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: Don Imus + the Racial Backlash


6 PM Mountain Time

CJSR FM-88 Edmonton or

The recent firing of Euro-American broadcaster Don Imus has caused a hurricane of controversy and unleashed a backlash against Afrikamerica. Don Imus, known to most for calling a group of Afrikan-American young athletes “nappy-headed hoes,” apologised, but later blamed hip hop culture as a whole, seemingly implying that his behaviour was rooted in that experience. What he and most reporters glossed over was Imus’s extensive history of racially offensive remarks. The backlash against Imus’s critics, most notably Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, seems to serve as covering fire for a general tendency by liberal and conservative Euro-Americans to deny the on-going destructive power of cultural and institutional Whitesupremacy. The effects of that power system are wide-ranging. As recently reported by the US Centre for Disease Control and in the Whittier Daily News, Afrikan-Americans have the highest infant mortality rate of any ethnic group in the United States, even adjusting for class.

In 2002, Reuters news reported that “African Americans continue to receive poorer quality healthcare compared with their white peers, and racial stereotyping by American doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers is at least partly to blame.... Black patients are less likely to receive potentially life-saving treatments [and] were more likely than whites to receive less-desirable treatments, such as limb amputation... or removal of the testes in the case of prostate or testicular cancers.”

Other Reuters headlines from that time included “Study Finds Racial Differences in US Cancer Care” (March 8, 2002), “Poorer Care for Blacks Found in Medicare HMOs” (March 12, 2002), “Race May Be Factor in Young Patients’ Chronic Pain” (March 18, 2002) and “Death Risk Higher in Black Ovarian” (March 15, 2002).

How about environmental racism? Daniel Wigley and Kristin Shrader-Frechette explained that for the US, “In 1987, the most significant determining factor in the siting of hazardous waste facilities, nationwide, was race.... [T]he Environmental Protection Agency took 20% longer to identify Superfund sites in minority communities and... polluters of those neighbourhoods paid fines 50% [smaller than] polluters of white communities.”

And when discussing racial disparity, one must never forget well-documented political disenfranchisement. Afrikan voters in Florida in the 2000 Presidential election were harassed and threatened by police and blockades; boxes of Black votes were left uncounted. (“1 million black votes didn’t count in the 2000 presidential election,” Greg Palast, San Francisco Chronicle, 2004 June 20)

Racial disparities in police stops, surveillance, brutality, arrest rates, conviction rates and sentencing length are well-documented. Also well-researched is economic discrimination: discriminatory hiring, promotion and firing. There’s inequity in qualification for business and homeowner loans. There used to be direct red-lining--the illegal practice of financial racial profiling in which banks deny mortgages on the basis of where potential clients currently live. Social justice activists fought to make redlining illegal, so banks adopted indirect red-lining by simply shutting down branches in coloured neighbourhoods.

So despite the best efforts of many conservative and liberal Euro-American pundits and their constabulary of coloured sell-outs, reality is the best weapon against their attack on the struggle for racial justice in the realm of civil, social, economic and human rights. To discuss this issue today we'll hear from cultural critic, radio host and Baptist minister Professor Michael Eric Dyson. He's the author of over ten books, including:

  • I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Tupac Shakur: Holler If You Hear Me
  • Is Bill Cosby Right or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?


Anonymous said…
Equal rights? Of course. Anything else is insanity.

Equal pay. See above.

I've never held a different opinion but I do wish blacks born in this country (especially 2nd generation and older) would stop identifying themselves as African-Canadians or African-Americans.

There's nothing African about you, especially if your family immigrated from the West Indies or England.

White South Africans of families who have lived in the SA for 400 years call themselves Africans (although the Dutch spelling is closer to what you use - not sure why you insist on this) and not Dutch-Africans.

Why are you so eager to identify with a country (actually a continent) and culture that isn't your own and a people who don't recognize you as their own.

Just because my parents come from China doesn't mean I'm anything like the Chinese. I don't speak the language and I don't share their values. I'm a Canadian who happens to look Asian.

You have black skin but your not Egyptian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, South African, etc. African-Canadian is as useless a term as Asian-Canadian (am I descendant of people from the Russian steppes, Tibet, India, Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Thai?)

Ending on a positive note, Dr. Brain was a great book.

Ray Ip.