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“Mr. Imus Has Stolen a Moment of Pure Grace from Us”–Rutgers Women’s Basketball Team Condemn Don Imus’s Remarks

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MSNBC and CBS Radio are coming under increasing pressure to fire Don Imus over his recent remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team calling them “nappy-headed hos.” Imus has suspended for two weeks beginning on Monday, but he remains on the air this week. On Tuesday, members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team spoke out for the first time. We play excerpts. [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: MSNBC and CBS Radio are coming under increasing pressure to fire Don Imus over the recent remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. Imus has been suspended for two weeks, but not until next Monday. He remains on the air this week. Several large corporations, including Staples and Procter & Gamble, have pulled their ads from his show on MSNBC.

Well, on Tuesday, members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team spoke out for the first time. They condemned Imus’s remarks, but said they would meet with him privately. These are excerpts from yesterday’s news conference. They begin with the Rutgers coach, Vivian Stringer.

VIVIAN STRINGER: We have all been physically, mentally and emotionally spent, so hurt by the remarks that were uttered by Mr. Imus. But, you see, we also understood a long time ago that, you know what, no one can make you feel inferior unless you allow them, that we can’t let other people steal our joy. We’ve always understood that for a long, long time.

My role as a coach is one to love, nurture, discipline, teach and prepare our young women for leadership roles in this society, and that I am sure of. And all that we do and in all the travels that we have had, this group of young women have been presented as nothing less than class in every aspect of all that they do.

And while they’ve worked hard in the classroom and have accomplished so much and used their gifts and talents, you know, to bring the smiles and the pride within this state in so many people, we had to experience racist and sexist remarks that are deplorable, despicable and abominable and unconscionable, and it hurts me.

ESSENCE CARSON: My name is Essence Carson, and I’m a junior student athlete here at Rutgers University. I would like to express our team’s great hurt, anger and disgust towards the words of Mr. Don Imus. We are highly angered at his remarks, but deeply saddened with the racial characterization they entailed. Not only has Mr. Imus stolen a moment of pure grace from us, but he has brought us to the harsh reality that behind the faces of the networks that have worked so hard to convey a message of empowerment to young adults, that somehow, some way the door has been left open to attack your leaders of tomorrow. We haven’t done anything to deserve this controversy. But yet, it has taken a toll on us mentally and physically. Driven to a point of mental and physical exhaustion, we ask that you not recognize us in a light as dimly lit as this, but in a light that encompasses the great hurdles we’ve overcome and the goals achieved this season.

Now, with that said, we have agreed to have a meeting with Mr. Don Imus. This meeting will be a private meeting at an undisclosed location in the near future. We just hope to come to some type of understanding of what the remarks really entailed, his reasons why they were said. And we would just like to express our great hurt, the sadness that he has brought to us. It is more than a game of basketball. It’s more than the Rutgers women’s basketball team. As Coach Stringer said, we realize that it’s about women across the world, across this nation. It just so happens that we finally take a stand. And we ask that you continue to support us and not look at it as we’re attacking, you know, a major broadcasting figure. We’re attacking something, an issue, that we know isn’t right, and we just continue to ask for your support, and we thank you for your support thus far. Thank you.

JACK ELLERY: Hi, I’m Jack Ellery, WCTC Radio in New Jersey. So much of our culture, as Coach Stringer mentioned, demeans women, in particular black women. And I refer to rap music, Comedy Central, so forth and so on. Do you have any comments about some of the despicable lyrics of rap music and what goes on on Comedy Central and in other aspects of our society?

ESSENCE CARSON: Hello. I would like to say that I know that rap, hip-hop and any other music of that genre has desensitized America and this world to some of the words that they choose to use in their lyrics. I understand that, but that doesn’t make it any more right for anyone to say it, not only Mr. Imus, but if I were to say it, it doesn’t make it any more right. It doesn’t matter if you’re African-American or whether you’re Caucasian, Asian. It really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that it’s wrong. And we ask — and as a society, we’re trying to grow and trying to surpass that and get to a point where we don’t classify women as hos, we don’t classify African-American women as “nappy-headed hos” or anything other than that, other than the classy women that I believe everyone at this press conference, every woman at this press conference, is.

PAUL FRANKLIN: Paul Franklin from the Home News in East Brunswick, New Jersey. A lot of times in bad situations, good things result. What do you think ideally or realistically good can come from this?

ESSENCE CARSON: Oh, wow. I believe there are a lot of positives that can come from this. One thing is that we finally speak up for women, not only African-American women, but all women. And that’s just going to be a major step forward in society, just to finally understand that there quite isn’t that equality that we all wish was there. It’s something that we continuously hope for.

AMY GOODMAN: The Rutgers news conference held yesterday by the members of the Rutgers basketball team and their coach, Vivian Stringer, joined by the president of Rutgers University.

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