Monday, April 16, 2007

The "Don Imus Situation"

I know I usually post about things pertaining to my acting career, and my life as an actress, but as life and the society at large do inform my art, I feel compelled to talk about this. I call it the "Don Imus Situation" only because he is the one in the spotlight at the present moment, but it is by no means solely his "situation".

As an artist and as an American, I do understand, defend, and support freedom of expression. As a human being, however, I am able to discern the spirit behind peoples' actions (as I believe we all are, if we pay close attention). With regard to American culture (because that is the culture with which I am most familiar), it has become commonplace to be mean-spirited under the guise of "expressing one's self" and/or "keeping it real". If your "keeping it real" requires you to say things that are going to be destructive to others, then perhaps you should "keep it to yourself".

Don Imus and the other man on his show (who I have been told is the producer of the show) described a (mostly Black) women's basketball team by using the terms "nappy-headed hoes" and referenced a satirical Spike Lee film in order to use the terms "wannabees and jigaboos". This is unacceptable, and I'm glad he was fired, but this is so much bigger than Don Imus. I'm actually glad this event occurred, since it seems to be the catalyst for long-overdue, serious dialogue. How many of us (present company included) support music, movies, television shows and individuals that do not support us back? And I'm not just talking about black people and/or women, either. Look around--at every turn we will see that we are bombarded with images that tell us that we are "not enough" in one way or another. Instead of rejecting these images, we accept them and reject those aspects of ourselves that have been pointed out as inferior. Many of us have unwittingly given others the power to tell us that we are not enough.

I challenge each of you as I challenge myself--keep close watch over the messages you allow yourselves to internalize. Don't support anything or anyone who doesn't support you back. Be kind--you never know how your words and actions may affect someone. Be proactive rather than reactionary. Sometimes harmful messages can seem innocuous. How to tell the difference between a friend and a foe? Speak up and ask for what you want, then sit back and notice what you get.

(Putting my soapbox away.)


"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." --Eleanor Roosevelt

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