Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"A Moment of Pure Grace"

A special mid-week post from Roxie's World because the fallout from the Imus imbroglio continues--and the lessons of this "teachable moment" become clearer. Today, the glorious women of Rutgers talked back to their tormentor and publicly addressed the tumult that has taken over their post-season. They held a press conference to announce that they plan to meet privately with Mr. Imus to hear his explanation for his reprehensible conduct. Essence Carson was chief spokesperson for the team, and she spoke movingly of the incident and the media firestorm it has generated. She noted that Imus's assault had "stolen a moment of pure grace" from the team, which didn't get nearly as much attention for its prodigious accomplishments on the court this season as it has gotten for being the object of a vicious verbal assault. Her remarks demonstrated a shrewd understanding of the role of money in American culture and of the lingering effects of racism and sexism. Asked to say whether she felt more injured by the racism or the sexism of Imus's remarks, Carson refused to fall into the trap of pitting one against the other. "Both," she said simply, offering a small but astute example of what feminists describe as intersectional analysis--i.e., an analysis of oppression that attends to the multiple, interlocking social forces that contribute to the marginalization of individuals and groups. (Moose had to explain that part to me. See previous post for reference to bell hooks and my point about Roxie's World not being an academic blog.)

Here are a few links to new stuff on the Imus mess:

  • For highlights of the press conference, go to MSNBC.
  • For video of the full press conference, go here.
  • For reaction from Rutgers University, which has lovingly embraced its coach and team and righteously condemned the odious Imus, go here.
  • For a thoughtful piece by Post columnist Eugene Robinson, go here. The Post also ran an editorial on Imus this morning called "Shocked Jock." It's here.
  • Gwen Ifill, who was herself the object of Imus's ridicule when she was White House correspondent for the Times during the Clinton administration, has a short op-ed that appropriately shifts attention back to the women of Rutgers. It's here.
Moose is struck by the fact that the homophobia of Imus's remarks--which is so evident in the contrast he sets up between the "rough girls" of Rutgers with their tattoos and the "cute" girls of Tennessee--is getting little to no attention in the flood of commentary that has been unleashed in the past week. She thinks this underscores a broader problem of homophobia in the perception and reception of women's sports. She's even thinking of writing up a little something about it if she gets a break from typing for me or--oh, yeah--doing her day job.

While Moose ponders that weighty subject, I have one thing to say to the extraordinary women of Rutgers:

No one can take that moment of pure grace away from you. It is yours forever. You purchased it with your fierce dedication, your unyielding faith in yourselves and your team, and in the sheer beauty of your athleticism. No washed-up celebrity jerk can steal it or tarnish it or even touch it, for it lives in your souls and in the hearts of all of us who thrilled in your accomplishments throughout the season and in the tournament. You are pure grace--in word and deed. Whatever the score of any game, you are winners--plain and simple.


  1. My dear Roxie -- well, I just had my original comment erased by Blogger's missteps, so I am frustrated.

    I have just watched the wonderful RUTGERS WOMEN, and they are among the most gracious and wise that we have seen in our popular culture. It is time that we STOP TOLERATING the, and I quote you, "casual toxicity" of shock jock culture and all of that. But the Rutgers Women have called us to something higher--they refused to pit racism against sexism. THAT fact alone tells you that they are at a FIRST CLASS RESEARCH I University--they would have nothing of that. These young women already know that racism, sexism, homophobia, classism ALL INHERE and are part and parcel of one another.

    Here's to my alma mater. I learned more in 1976-1977 than I have learned in any other year in my intellectual history. And that's because Rutgers gave me a chance, welcomed me, and said, "You go, Girl." I have. And I will never forget that Rutgers, the STATE University of New Jersey, has made it possible. Public education? "You GO, girl."
    --Your Goose

  2. Dear Roxie -- Your Aunt Judy sent that pasted in below today from the Austin American-Statesman. We must change the notion of what is acceptable discourse in this country. I love you, Rox:


    Cultural enlightenment – at Rutgers team's expense
    Listen to this article or download audio file.Click-2-Listen
    Wednesday, April 11, 2007

    Shock jock Don Imus is being flayed alive over his grossly inappropriate, insulting remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team, and he deserves every lash.

    Imus cruelly referred to the players as "nappy-headed hos" last Wednesday, then dismissed the ensuing criticism as unimportant. Those young women, star athletes at a fine university, were just stage props to him. They weren't people who feel and hurt and suffer.

    Imus is being publicly pilloried because those girls didn't deserve his dismissive insults, did nothing to earn his scorn. They were innocent pawns in Imus's daily insult-a-thon, and he slimed them because he thought his racist remarks were funny. He now knows they weren't.

    Imus is getting the whipping he deserves, and he surely will learn a lifelong lesson from the beating. What is puzzling, however, is why our society has to keep learning this lesson over and over again, repeating the pattern of verbal abuse followed by public disgrace, punishment and — sometimes — apology.

    This week it is Don Imus. Last month it was KVET radio curmudgeon Sam Allred who was suspended from the air for referring to U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat, as a "clean darky." And he was referring to an improper remark made earlier by U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware.

    Before that it was Michael Richards — Kramer from the hit sitcom "Seinfeld" — who launched into a racist rant at a Los Angeles comedy club. Richards had to take the full cure and go on a nationwide apology tour, much like the one Imus is facing. Remember Kinky Friedman, who during his run for governor explained his racially disparaging insults about African Americans as humor and satire?

    Racist commentary has become our national malady, and maybe that's a good thing. The country at large no longer abides brutish racism. We don't look the other way when someone makes a snide remark about blacks, Hispanics, Asians, gays or women. We — the culture — take it on and deal with it.

    We show the pain, explain the hurt, demand the offender face the damage done by his words and deeds and answer for them. We no longer accept discrimination as normal or ignore abusive behavior. We face the ugliness and demand redress.

    Some argue that African Americans are too sensitive, and their outraged reaction to Imus or Michael Richards furthers their culture of victimhood. That is sadly missing the point that the Rutgers players were innocent victims of Imus's drive-by slurs. They, and the nation that stands with them, are right to be outraged.

    Once most Americans tolerated racism and discrimination as the norm. That we no longer allow Imus or Allred or Richards to smear people with impunity is a sign of cultural health.

    That's not the same as the absence of discrimination, but it points the way.


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