FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | April 12, 2007
Rutgers Basketball Team Deserves Only Respect
A Statement from NCLR Sports Project Director Helen Carroll
(San Francisco, CA, April 12, 2007) — Insincere verbal apologies are just too easy. Don Imus must accept personal responsibility. He must not just retract his words of sexism, racism, gender stereotyping, and homophobia, but show true sincerity with action. He should resign. He should remove himself from the airways. That would take courage on his part. Let's see if it happens.
Radio Host Don Imus of the nationally syndicated CBS Radio show, "Imus in the Morning," spewed hateful stereotypes throughout his commentary on the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship game of April 3, 2007, in which the Scarlet Knights played the Tennessee Lady Vols. In a toxic combination of racism, misogyny, and homophobia, Mr. Imus referred to the Rutgers players as "nappy headed hos" and criticized them for being "rough girls" with "tattoos," insinuating that there must be something terribly wrong for women to show such power and strength. In contrast, he informed his listeners, "The girls from Tennessee, they all look cute."
These are attitudes that the National Center for Lesbian Rights Sports Project combats on a daily basis. Mr. Imus simply put a national face on the problem. The intersection of racism, sexism, homophobia, and gender stereotyping is a severe problem for everyone in women's sports. Every day, we are losing good female coaches who are replaced by men. Young athletes who are women of color must run a gauntlet of insulting abuse. And gender stereotyping fuels the homophobia that keeps lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender athletes in the closet and poisons the atmosphere for all athletes.
After GM, Staples, American Express, and Proctor and Gamble pulled their ads from the show, MSNBC announced it will drop the "Imus in the Morning" television simulcast from its lineup. This is a welcome development, and certainly a more appropriate response than the two week suspension that CBS levied. While I applaud MSNBC for not tolerating the broadcast of such hate, the true accountability rests with Mr. Imus. An apology isn't satisfactory. Coach Vivian Stringer and her players deserve nothing less than Mr. Imus' formal resignation. Coach Stringer said she was training leaders, as well as basketball players. She and the Scarlet Knights have demonstrated true leadership and grace in the aftermath of Mr. Imus' rant. These young women are guiding us to a truth that is too often elusiveequality is a right for all.
NCLR's Sports Project works to level the playing field for all athletes. We will remain vigilant with education, advocacy, and litigation when needed. We will stand alongside the Scarlet Knights and all who suffer such abuse. NCLR is committed to changing the landscape that Imus perpetuates to one of equality for everyone in sport.
Helen J. Carroll
Sports Project Director
National Center for Lesbian Rights
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.