Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

Imus(t) Be Hearing Things, Part I

April 15th, 2007 by Ajuan Mance

Don Imus, producer Bernard McGuirk, and sometimes sidekick Sid Rosenberg are not terribly different from the scores of white undergraduates who indulged their most deeply held stereotypes of Black people at “ghetto” parties.* 

Those students see Black undergraduates in their classes and dormitories every day, young African American scholars whose mere presence on their campus would presumably undermine any stereotypes of the Black subject as anti-intellectual; and yet many white students maintain that their Black classmates represents the exception and not the rule, as they choose to believe the authenticity of media representations of Blacks “in the ‘hood” over their own real-life encounters with Blacks on campus.

In a not-so-bizarre and, sadly, not-so-surprising variation on this phenomenon, Imus, McGuirk, and Rosenberg look at hardworking Black women scholar-athletes and see only “hos,” their vision of Black womanhood warped and confined by their incapacity to comprehend manifestations of Blackness that fall outside of the narrow stereotypes perpetuated in the mainstream media.

This is a phenomenon that is familiar to most African Americans. Patricia Hill Collins uses the term  “controlling images” to refer to those stereotypes that define and limit mainstream conceptions of Blackness. Most Black folks have experienced the bizareness that ensues when one of us encounters someone (of any ethnicity) who perceives our behavior, interests, occupation, marital status, spiritual practice, body type, etc. as somehow falling outside of that handful of controlling images that is associated with African American identity.

*Click this link for a transcript of their comments.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Posted in Black Students, Higher Education, Imus, race, racism, Stereotypes

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