Blacks Share Blame
If Don Imus is eventually fired, I don't think that he will have to worry. He can get a job with a rap group and denigrate more young Black college students who prefer books and sports, as opposed to gutter words. Young Blacks share the blame in this episode. They have lost all sense of decorum. As an African American who has spent his life fighting against American racism, I am appalled with this generation that has produced the likes of Imus, a "dog" in their so-called hip language. Today, our lives are entirely lacking in propriety; there is no longer the traditional, established and unwritten agreement about what is proper and decent behavior between human beings.
'Imus Deed' Stings
I am saddened and dismayed by this incident, as I believe all Americans of all races, creeds, colors, ages, and walks of life … who care about people and the quest for continued progress in our efforts to heal (can) be reconciled to one another.
Don Imus' words were cutting, the comment was horrendous, and the incident reveals an insensitivity that drives shock waves and horrors through us all.
It was wrong and I believe he should be very sorrowful and he should bear consequences of the two-week suspension that has been given him.
This letter is written to those who believe in God, those who are people of faith everywhere, those who may be seeking to become a person of faith, and those who seek an end to racial strife. What saddens me most about this incident is the number of people of faith, in particular, who have called for Mr. Imus to be fired. No one can appreciate the hurt words cause except those of us who have been on the other end of it.
As an African American pastor of a historic church, a businessman, husband, father, and grandfather I know what it's like.
I not only know what it's like to be called out by my name, treated differently because of the color of my skin, but also to be mistreated and not really hear the words, but also know the feeling you get when you're on the other end of someone else's racial prejudice. I've been there and I so have many who are reading this article. Not only that, there are many of you who are reading this article who have made the unkind statements or committed the "Imus Deed" and you didn't get caught.
As people of faith it's in our DNA to love, forgive and to reconcile. As a country it's amazing to me from politics to the pulpit we want to invoke God's name whenever it's convenient; but I'll be most pleased when we begin, (starting at the White House and with Congress), invoking God's principles — namely love, forgiveness and reconciliation — that's God's name in action.
Don Imus is an easy target for the moment, but I ask each of us to think back, did the slave owners "get fired or suffer retribution" after the Emancipation Proclamation? Did the doer of the deeds of Jim Crow "get fired" for the wrongs they wrought? Did Nelson Mandela say, when released from prison after 27 years in apartheid South Africa — "fire F.W. DeClerk and all who have wronged South Africans?" The list goes on, but the message is the same — when people publicly hurt and cause harm, two wrongs don't make a right. Imus was wrong. Jim Crow was wrong. Slavery was wrong. But let's not forget, Martin and his crowd were right!
The more we go around "getting even" with one another the more we tear at the fabric of what makes us the great bastion of hope and strength to the world — we learn our lessons, sincerely put our experience into action, and move on.
To those who are reading this article and feel that I'm the "Uncle Don" or "House Servant" personified — I feel very sorry for you. Believe me, it's far deeper than that. I know that if we started "firing" everyone who has caused harm or hurt to someone else either by words or deeds, we would look around and find so many "jobs" vacant it wouldn't even be funny.
To the Rev. Al Sharpton and all members of the clergy and people of faith everywhere, I'm ashamed of the call for "firing." That's the easy way out. The harder way is to help people like Don Imus turn this incident around and as he's learned — help others learn. We need him and we need his show as a mouthpiece to drown out all the other hatred and bitterness across the airwaves.
I close this letter by challenging people of capacity all over this country and world who read this to put into action what we really need at the deepest fabric of our psyche — a way to receive our consequences, sincerely reconcile ourselves to one another, learn the lesson(s), put that experience into action, and move on. I also ask that you write to me at www.vancouveravechurch.org and express your thoughts.
J.W. Matt Hennessee, Snr. Pastor,
Vancouver Avenue First Baptist