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Recent Publication Information for Michael Awkward

TITLE

Burying Don Imus: Anatomy of a Scapegoat

AUTHOR

Michael Awkward
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What the furor surrounding Don Imus shows us about unresolved race relations in the United States

“That’s some nappy-headed hos.” With these now-infamous words, uttered in 2007 to describe the supposed appearance of the Rutgers women’s basketball team, tWhat the furor surrounding Don Imus shows us about unresolved race relations in the United States

“That’s some nappy-headed hos.” With these now-infamous words, uttered in 2007 to describe the supposed appearance of the Rutgers women’s basketball team, the radio talk show host Don Imus became the improbable focus of a heated national discussion on race, gender, and the power of language. Excoriated in the media as racist and sexist, Imus quickly lost the corporate sponsorships that had made his show so lucrative and, despite a public meeting with the Rutgers athletes and their coach to apologize for his comments, was fired by CBS two weeks later. In Burying Don Imus, Michael Awkward provides the first balanced, critical analysis of Imus’s comments and the public outrage they provoked.

Written from the singular perspective of a black intellectual with both a long-standing commitment to feminism and a deep familiarity with—and appreciation of—Imus in the Morning, this book contends that the reaction to the insult ignored the nature of Imus’s contributions to popular culture and political debate while eliding the real and very complicated issues within contemporary racial politics. Awkward’s probing account analyzes the responses within the African-American community as reflective of deep-seated anxieties rooted in the collective trauma resulting from centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, and racial violence. Placing the controversy in multiple contexts, he addresses Imus’s public persona and the satirical intent of his show, and delves into such charged topics as the perception of women athletes in American culture, the tradition of racist humor, the sexist language of hip-hop, and the politics of black hairstyles. Awkward also juxtaposes the Imus incident with other recent controversies, including the rape accusations leveled against white players on Duke University’s lacrosse team in 2006, in order to demonstrate how sensational spectacles of racism play out in the media again and again.

Highly personal, eclectic, and illuminating, Burying Don Imus examines American society’s predilection for self-congratulatory, ineffective hand-wringing over issues of race and racism and its inability to engage productively with the historic oppression of African Americans.he radio talk show host Don Imus became the improbable focus of a heated national discussion on race, gender, and the power of language. Excoriated in the media as racist and sexist, Imus quickly lost the corporate sponsorships that had made his show so lucrative and, despite a public meeting with the Rutgers athletes and their coach to apologize for his comments, was fired by CBS two weeks later. In Burying Don Imus, Michael Awkward provides the first balanced, critical analysis of Imus’s comments and the public outrage they provoked.

Written from the singular perspective of a black intellectual with both a long-standing commitment to feminism and a deep familiarity with—and appreciation of—Imus in the Morning, this book contends that the reaction to the insult ignored the nature of Imus’s contributions to popular culture and political debate while eliding the real and very complicated issues within contemporary racial politics. Awkward’s probing account analyzes the responses within the African-American community as reflective of deep-seated anxieties rooted in the collective trauma resulting from centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, and racial violence. Placing the controversy in multiple contexts, he addresses Imus’s public persona and the satirical intent of his show, and delves into such charged topics as the perception of women athletes in American culture, the tradition of racist humor, the sexist language of hip-hop, and the politics of black hairstyles. Awkward also juxtaposes the Imus incident with other recent controversies, including the rape accusations leveled against white players on Duke University’s lacrosse team in 2006, in order to demonstrate how sensational spectacles of racism play out in the media again and again.

Highly personal, eclectic, and illuminating, Burying Don Imus examines American society’s predilection for self-congratulatory, ineffective hand-wringing over issues of race and racism and its inability to engage productively with the historic oppression of African Americans.

All recent publications by Michael Awkward

  • Philadelphia Freedoms: Black American Trauma, Memory, and Culture after King
  • Burying Don Imus:  Anatomy of a Scapegoat

All publications by Michael Awkward

Inspiriting Influences: Tradition, Revision, and Afro-American Women's Novels (Columbia University Press, 1989)
 
editor, New Essays on Their Eyes Were Watching God (Cambridge University Press, 1990)
 
Negotiating Difference: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Positionality (University of Chicago Press, 1995)
 
Scenes of Instruction: A Memoir (Duke University Press, 2000)
 
Soul Covers: Rhythm and Blues Remakes and the Struggle for Artistic Identity (Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Phoebe Snow) (Duke University Press, 2007)
 
Burying Don Imus: Anatomy of a Scapegoat (University of Minnesota Press, 2009)

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