By Dwight Hobbes
Radio station B96's assault upon Paris Bennett, calling the American Idol singing star outside her name, was unconscionable. It should have been unthinkable. Were she white it would've been. Radio station B96's assault upon Paris Bennett, calling the American Idol singing star outside her name, was unconscionable. It should have been unthinkable. Were she white it would've been.
Damning of our so-called society is that the only people who publicly got upset about it are African Americans. And profoundly galling is lack of response from feminists. Womanists. Whatever the gutless wonders are calling themselves these days, they were conspicuously silent while we raised three different kinds of hell.
There is no way that white women, hip ones specifically, would sit on their consciences and let somebody's blonde-haired, blue-eyed child be insulted in front of the entire Twin Cities. They would've been out there in front of KTTB-FM, 1900 North Marshall in Northeast Minneapolis, marching back and forth, ranting and raving on the sidewalk, disrupting traffic and otherwise being a genuine pain in the ass to B96.
And Lord, had this Tone E Fly character, this white man with the Black name – had he been Black, white women would've been right there with white men, envisioning a noose and putting so much pressure to bear that his desk would be cleaned out the next morning. He would've come to work and found his things sitting in a garbage can. There would have been no mere slap-on-the-wrist talking-to from management. Had this been a young white girl, singing star or no, sponsors for that radio station would be this very day scarce as hens' teeth. Liberated white women would see to it or die trying.
So much for sisterly solidarity.
However, despite this betrayal, the glass may be half full. The covers have been torn off and just maybe some of our deluded sistahs will take a second look at how well their white girlfriends truly accept them. Black women with sense already know their humanity is invisible. To the most progressive feminist. In fact, to everyone else on the planet. Yes, that includes, as a rule, Black men (don't get me started on that one). For some reason everybody has a problem realizing that Black women are human beings. And, duh, we need to change that.
Lest you believe me to be an alarmist, look: the precedent is set, bearing out these accusations. Back when would-be mayor Barbara Johnson called Minneapolis StarTribune columnist Cheryl "C. J." Johnson outside her name and threw C. J.'s color into it too, ain't nobody get mad but us. The Minneapolis Police Department demanded Council Member Natalie Johnson Lee's head on a platter for caring about a destroyed Black family, and ain't nobody got mad but us. So when I say that Paris Bennett has been discriminated against on the basis of both her color and gender, don't hand me nothing 'bout me playing the race card.
The whole thing is a damn shame. But that's what happens when you have racist, willful ignorance run rampant. Now, what to do? Where's a solution? And frankly, at this point, I'm no longer talking about white women. How much more of a wake-up call do all of us need than this latest business, this on-the-air insult at B96 to our mothers, sisters and daughters?
Well for one thing, you stop this okey-doke pattern of white men in the media (can you say Imus?) demeaning Black women and getting off the hook by saying they're sorry – presumably with a straight face. You stay concerned about Paris Bennett long after the headlines about her mistreatment have died down. Concerned enough to write and tell the sponsors of B96 exactly how concerned you are. Concerned enough to tell them you're not sure you want to buy those sponsor's products – whether you ever bought them before or not - unless B96 does something more serious about that white man Tone