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Rutgers team responds to Imus

“While they worked hard in the classroom and accomplished so much and used their gifts and talents. We had to experience racist and sexist remarks that are deplorable, despicable, and abominable and unconscionable. It hurts me.”

“It’s not about them as black or nappy-headed. It’s about us as a people. When there is not equality for all, or when there has been denied equality for one, there has been denied equality for all.”
— C. Vivian Stringer, Rutgers University head coach, during a press conference today with Rutgers basketball players

Some people, unlike Don Imus, have class. The team plans to meet with him. (AP):

Rutgers women’s basketball coach on Tuesday called the comments radio host Don Imus made about her team “racist and sexist remarks that are deplorable, despicable and unconscionable.”

“These young ladies before you are valedictorians, future doctors, musical prodigies,” coach C. Vivian Stringer told a nationally publicized news conference a day after the uproar over Imus’ comments led to a two-week suspension of his show.

Team member Essence Carson said she and the other players were angry and disgusted but would meet with Imus. They stopped short of saying whether they thought he should be fired for calling the team “nappy-headed hos.”

“We are students first,” Carson said. “We did not do anything to deserve his controversy.”

Bill Maher, CBS News political analyst Jeff Greenfield and former Carter administration official Hamilton Jordan all sat down and chatted with Imus on his show today. I guess they’ve felt he’s “suffered” enough.

Essence Carson gave a wonderful speech today. Read it after the jump.From the NYT transcript of the press conference, the captain of the Rutgers women’s basketball team:

My name is Essence Carson and I’m a junior student-athlete here at Rutgers University. I would like to express our team’s great hurt, anger and disgust towards the words of Mr. Don Imus.

We are highly angered at his remarks but deeply saddened with the racial characterization they entailed. Not only has Mr. Imus stolen a moment of pure gracefulness but he has brought us to the harsh reality that behind the faces of the networks that have worked so hard to convey a message of empowerment to young adults that somehow some way the door has been left open to attack your leaders of tomorrow.

You must not forget that we are students first and then we’re athletes. And before the student lies the daughter.

On collegiate athletics’ grandest stage, under the brightest lights with the focal point being nothing other than a trophy that symbolizes the hard work, the perseverance of a team so deserving, the curtains will close on an act that deserved nothing short of an encore.

This Rutgers University women’s basketball team has made history. We were the first team in the school’s history to reach a national championship final game. We the team are full of youthful bright-eyed athletes that aspire to be great, not only great on the basketball court, but great in the fields of medicine, music and psychology.

I would like to pose a question – not a question of insult, but a question of pure thought. Where were these major networks when the youth were making history for a prestigious university? Now we are bombarded with phone calls, e-mails and with cameras. They invade our privacy and place us between a rock and a hard place. We haven’t done anything to deserve this controversy but yet it has taken a toll on us mentally and physically.

Driven to a point of mental and physical exhaustion, we ask that you not recognize us in a light as dimly lit as this but in a light that encompasses the great hurdles we’ve overcome and the goals achieved this season.

Now with that said, we have agreed to have a meeting with Mr. Don Imus. This meeting will be a private meeting at an undisclosed location in the near future. We just hope to come to some type of understanding of what the remarks really entailed, his reasons why they were said. And we’d just like to express our great hurt. The sadness that has been brought to us is more than the game of basketball, is more than the Rutgers women’s basketball team.

As Coach Stringer said, we realize that it’s about women across the world, across this nation. It just so happens that we finally take a stand. And we ask that you continue to support us and not look at it as we’re attacking a major broadcasting figure. We’re attacking something – an issue that we know isn’t right. And we just continue to ask for your support and thank you for your support thus far.

***

See Michael Eric Dyson throw down the gauntlet about Imus on Lou Dobbs last night (thanks to Evan at AlterNet, who picked up my post and passed along the video):

He said it best:

DOBBS: Michael, this — this is unusual in that he — he attacked a women’s basketball team at Rutgers during the national finals.

DYSON: Right.

DOBBS: Doesn’t whatever process that moves forward have to begin first and foremost with them?


DYSON: There’s no question that he has to — you know, and I heard that he’s attempting to reach out to them. But the reality is that what he said about those particular black women is symbolic and representative. Those black women represent women who work at MSNBC, who work at CNN. Black women in corporate America who have, quote, “nappy hair”, who wear their hair in a way that is alternative to the mainstream, straightened hair.

So the reality is that nappy hair is as equally lethal as the so-called host statement. Because it’s signifying upon the choices that black women make aesthetically and what they look like. That’s the deepness of the harm. And all of us have to confront that in every circle in America.

Related:
* Why Imus has to go
* MSNBC suspends Imus simulcast for two weeks
* So which pols are going to go on Imus now?
* Don Imus: Rutgers women’s basketball team ‘nappy-headed hos’

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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