Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Human Face

Yesterday morning, the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, their head coach, and various other university officials held a press conference to voice their feelings about the Don Imus situation.

Testimonials by two members of the team spoke to the heart of the issue. I had to recognize that I had been viewing it from a decidedly narrow perspective. I focused on the impact of the comments on racial discourse as a whole, without recognizing that there were individuals who were harmed by, if we take him at his word, an aging shock-jock’s pitifully lame attempt at being glib. I should know better. I was the only African-American member of my high school graduating class. I remember how hurtful words meant “in jest” were to me. I remember being placed in the awkward position of being called on to defend myself because of someone else’s ignorance.

Instead of celebrating a tremendous achievement, an appearance in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship game, these young women have had to spend their time dealing with a controversy caused by one man’s thoughtlessness and stupidity. That’s far more important than the future of Imus’ radio and television career.

C. Vivian Stringer, head coach of the Lady Scarlet Knights, said that she wanted to “put a human face on this.” She and her players did just that. That human face is not the wrinkled visage of Don Imus.


Press Conference at the Louis Brown Athletic Center in Piscataway, New Jersey

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