Two powerful African-American congresswomen are expressing outrage with the recent racist and sexist comments by Don Imus that denigrated the Rutgers University’s NCAA champion women's basketball team.
Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick, (D-Mich.), the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and the outspoken and highly respected Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a nine-term member of the House, are asking for Imus' job and for sponsors to stay clear.
Imus contends he’s sorry and that his comments were an attempt to be funny. But many onlookers find more hurt than humor in his words.
Kilpatrick wants the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to mandate diversity training for Imus and his colleagues and to impose fines on both networks that broadcast his program. And since the latest tirade by Imus was unquestionably harsh, the FCC (which thought Janet Jackson defiled the Super Bowl with her “wardrobe malfunction”) might agree with Kilpatrick.
Waters made her position on the matter clear too.
"I call on CBS Radio and MSNBC to do the right thing and fire him immediately and for both Network to apologize for his behavior, which he has exhibited time and again since the very beginning of his show," said the lawmaker from Los Angeles. "These Networks should have known of his dangerous actions instead of allowing him to continue to speak without concern and proper supervision.
"To merely require a two weeks suspension is not enough; it is a slap on the wrist for Imus, who will feel little discomfort, pain or punishment for his actions. The response from the Network should be swift and profound."
Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) is joining his female colleagues in the call for Imus' job. "What Don Imus said was demeaning not only to African-American women but to all women," he said. "To refer to our young, beautiful women in this manner is appalling."
The National Organization of Women and The Links, Inc., an organization of professional African American women, have joined the congressional leaders, NAACP, Operation PUSH and the Rev. Al Shapton in voicing their anger.
Just in case Imus hasn’t noticed, women have made quite a few strides in recent years.
Today, when these young women from Rutgers should be basting in the glory of their victory, they are holding a news conference.
Matee Ajavon, a senior at Rutgers told reporters, “It starts with women, it’s not just about Black women – we can’t be bashed just because of our gender.”
Well, maybe we can be bashed, but -- as people like Kilpatrick, Waters and Towns are making clear -- there will be hell to pay.