Thursday, October 04, 2007
Black men don't get to insult women
Read Shanna's blog
Shanna Flowers is The Roanoke Times' metro columnist.
Don Imus didn't get a pass. Isiah Thomas shouldn't, either.
Thomas, coach of the once-storied New York Knicks, joins Imus as the latest non-rapper to direct degrading names at black women. I don't have to remind you what Imus called members of the predominantly black Rutgers women's basketball team.
This week, a New York jury sided with a fired Knicks black female executive who sued Madison Square Garden and Thomas for sexual harassment. Among her accusations was that Thomas routinely addressed her as the b-word and the h-word, "the alphabet of misogyny," as one New York writer aptly put it.
Where're Jesse and Al now? (I guess it's easier to rev up the base when the bogeyman insulting black women is an old white guy instead of a prominent black NBA Hall of Famer with a charismatic smile.)
The Thomas trial revealed all kinds of soap-opera subplots and salacious details about the frat-boy atmosphere inside Madison Square Garden, home of the Knicks' operation.
By far, the most telling revelation came not in the trial but during a videotaped deposition Thomas gave.
One of the NBA's greatest players acknowledged that he would have "a problem" if a white man verbally abused a black woman with the b-word, but "not as much" if a black man used it.
Predictably, Thomas denied the woman's accusations throughout the case and dramatically proclaimed his innocence again after the trial outside the courthouse.
Yeah, whatever. His words ring a little hollow when you weigh his denial against his comment during the deposition.
What's most bothersome about Thomas' viewpoint is that it is more widespread in the black community than we care to admit.
Imus calls black women nappy-headed hos, and he is dragged before the altar of Sharpton to beg for forgiveness while Jackson summons his loyalists for a protest somewhere.
Yet black women endure such indignities -- and worse -- every day at the hands of rappers in recording studios and on the radio. Or from a black NBA team president and coach in a boardroom in the media capital of the world. But the uproar, if there is any, is muted.
The irony of the verdict is that it came in a court of law, during the same week that another Thomas -- Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas -- published his autobiography. And Clarence Thomas once again smeared Anita Hill, the black woman who had accused him of sexually harassing her before Thomas was elevated to the Supreme Court.
Clarence Thomas has a job for life, so we're stuck with him. But the Knicks aren't stuck with Isiah. He's been leading a losing team, but his worst failure has nothing to do with athletics.
It's time for him to go.