Imus Amongst Us
04-24-2007, 08:39 AM
Imus Amongst Us
Imus Amongst Us
(Column written 4/14/07 by Mumia AbuJamal)
With the ending of Don Imuss radio and TV career has arisen a perverse (if utterly stupid) caterwaul from conservatives, who are (to hear them tell it) newlyborn converts of free speech, and equally frenzied adherents of attacks on the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, as if, but for their activism, their pal Imus would still be on the airwaves.
Some have added the oral antics of various rap artists, to somehow prove that Imus was treated unfairly for using equally ugly terms to refer to Black women.
This noise from the fascistic rightwing of American political life is a vital clue into how they see the world, and thus a reflection of how they sell this view to others.
It shows how deeply race dwells in white consciousness, and how it is like an inner searchlight that blinds as much as it illuminates.
These socalled conservatives see Imus as one of us, and as such they shared his pompous, good ole boy, spitontherabble racism that passes for the norm in the nation: it just so happens that he spat on the wrong group of girls this time.
And neither the Revs. Al nor Jesse starting the ball rolling against Imus, although it mayve seemed so from TV.
The videotape of Imus went from an almost unseen perch on MSNBC to the net, where it spread like a virus. Nonetheless, bloggers picked it up and passed it on, and the more folks saw it, the more it spread. It became a living thing, nastier and nastier each time it was replayed.
The almost juvenile rant against rappers also fades upon a moments reflection; for, while it is undeniable that some of what is said is naked misogynya profound hatred of womenits obvious that rappers have no where near the social or political clout of Imus.
Whens the last time youve seen a rapper kick it with a candidate for U.S. Senator? Whens the last time youve heard of a rapper poppin some questions to a Mayoror a Governor?
People who wanted to be president flocked to Imus, like supplicants kissing the ring of a bishop, because he had the daily ear of millions, and his blessings meant votes.
No rapper in America can say the same.
Ultimately, its not about power, and precious few rappers have any power. In fact, their bling is an attempt to project a power (or wealth) that most of them do not possess.
Sociologist Zine Magubane, of Boston College, made that point in dramatic terms in his article, Globalization and Gangster Rap: Hip Hop in the PostApartheid City (citing the work of journalist Norman Kelley):
In an insightful article on the political economy of Black music, Norman Kelley describes how the relationship between the six major record firms (Warner, Polygram, MCA, BMG, Sony, and CEMA/UNI) and AfricanAmerican artists as a postmodern form of colonialism. He notes that rap music, although it forms the very foundation of the $12 billion dollar music industry in the United States, exhibits an history pattern typical of AfricanAmerican aesthetic products like jazz and blues which, although created largely by Blacks, were under the corporate control of Whites. Blackowned production companies like Uptown Records, Def Jam, and Bad Boy, Kelley explains, do not control a key component of the musicmaking nexus, namely, distribution. For example, the albums produced by Master Ps No Limit Records as well as those by RocAFella Records (owned by Damon Dash) are distributed by Priority Records. Those produced by Cash Money Records are distributed by Universal, while Sean Combs Bad Boy label is distributed by Arista. Thus, although young Black entrepreneurs have been able to swing the balance of power somewhat in their direction, they are still far from having complete dominion (because) in the music business distribution is the final battle ground. Because AfricanAmerican artists have virtually no control over the domestic distribution of their music, they likewise have no control over international distribution. Thus, white owned and controlled media conglomerates determine which AfricanAmerican cultural products enter the global arena. (Fr.: Magubane, Z., in: Basu, Dipannita and Sydney J. Lemelle, eds., The Vinyl Aint Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture. (London/Ann Arbor, MI.: Pluto Press, 2006), p. 211.)
Imus was a creature of white corporate and political power, who made millions playing to the smallmindedness of millions, who wanted to snicker at the lot of those worse off than them.
Unless I miss my guess, someone will hire him to do it again.
Theres always a market for that.
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