Black Fathers of Daughters Mobilized by Racial Insults

By Weathersbee, Tonyaa | The Florida Times Union, April 23, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Black Fathers of Daughters Mobilized by Racial Insults

Weathersbee, Tonyaa, The Florida Times Union

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

When radio host Don Imus decided that the Rutgers University women's basketball team was more deserving of an epithet than accolades, it brought out more than the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

It also brought out the wrath of Black Fathers Of Daughters.

They are out there, you know. The ones whose love and hopes for their girls tend to be buried in what seems to be a daily avalanche of pathology about the struggles of young black men.

The ones who fearlessly go about helping their girls build an armor of esteem - and who'll go after anyone who believes he has a license to rip it apart.

So when Imus tried doing that three weeks ago by referring to the mostly black basketball team as "nappy-headed hos," on his radio show, black fathers who saw the faces of their own daughters in those of the Rutgers athletes wasted little time in defending their honor.

Bryan Monroe, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, became the first to officially condemn Imus and to demand an apology.

Not long afterward Al Roker, the weatherman for NBC's Today show, also called for Imus' head.

Advertisers began to defect. Imus, whose immensely popular CBS morning radio show was simulcast on MSNBC, lost both gigs.

Monroe and Roker have daughters. Roker even asked readers of his blog to consider the anguish of having to explain to their daughters what being called a "nappy-headed ho," implies.

Yet I suspect that Roker, at least, knows black women who came of age during the time before black was beautiful; during a time when being a black girl, especially being a dark-skinned girl with kinky hair, automatically doomed them to invisibility and unworthiness.

While most women were - and often still are - objectified by their looks, black women had it tougher because they didn't fit into society's ideal of beauty.

For many black fathers, counteracting the double-whammy of racism and sexism was a full-time job.

That painful past is one reason why Imus' slur against the Rutgers athletes cut deeper than his previous racially offensive remarks - such as when he referred to PBS journalist Gwen Ifill as a cleaning lady.

That and the fact that the Rutgers women basketballers weren't known for thuggish or loose behavior, but for their good grades and their prowess on the basketball court.

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