On Wednesday, April 4, Don Imus, radio show host of the nationally syndicated show “Imus in the Morning,” referred to the Rutgers’ women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos” a day after the team lost the national championship to Tennessee.
“Unless they’ve given ‘ho’ a whole new definition, that’s not what I am,” Kia Vaughn, Rutgers’ sophomore center told reporters.
CBS and MSNBC decided to suspend Imus for two weeks, which began Monday, April 9. However, that suspension was cut short on Thursday, April 12, when CBS went ahead and fired Imus due to the loss of advertisers.
According to ESPN.com, MSNBC said Tuesday, “Imus regrets at making the inappropriate comment and his stated dedication to changing the show’s discourse made it believe this was the appropriate response.”
Imus called himself a “good person” who made a mistake early Monday on his show.
“Our agenda is to be funny and sometimes we go too far. And this time we went way too far,” Imus said on “The Al Sharpton Show.”
Sharpton called Imus’ comments “abominable” and “racist” and repeated his demand for him of Imus’ firing.
“This is not about whether you’re a good man,” Sharpton said. “What you said was racist.”
Essence Carson, a sophomore guard, along with fellow team members, spoke out about the derogatory comments made by Imus at a news conference, the first public statements since the incident occurred April 4.
“I would like to express our team’s great hurt, anger and disgust toward the words of Mr. Don Imus,” Carson said. “We are highly angered at his remarks but deeply saddened with the racial characterization they entailed.”
According to CNN.com, “Other players echoed Carson’s reaction, saying Imus’ insulting words and the resulting controversy overshadowed their achievements.”
Along with the Rutgers’ women’s basketball team, Bryan Monroe, president of the National Association of Black Journalists and vice president and editor director of Ebony and Jet magazines, was very upset with what Imus had said, and told CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves, “Something happened in the last week around America. It’s not just what the radio host did. America said enough is enough. America said we don’t want this kind of conversation, we don’t want this kind of vitriol, especially with teenagers.”
Oprah Winfrey is also speaking out against the racial slurs Imus said. On Thursday, April 12, the Rutgers’ team, along with coach C. Vivian Stringer appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
According to CNN.com, at the end of their appearance, Winfrey said: “I want to borrow a line from Maya Angelou, who is a personal mentor of mine and I know you all also feel the same way about her. And she has said this many times, and I say this to you, on behalf of myself and every woman that I know, you make me proud to spell my name W-O-M-A-N. You’ve really handled this beautifully.”