Print interviews with 'liberal' black journalists (they're really quite conservative; you must be black in exactly the way they demand) are the worst. They already 'know' I'm a Tom and talking to me serves two purposes, none of them reportorial: it proves they're 'objective' even though nothing I say or write ever makes a difference and it gives them fodder to dine out on with the other 'real' black people. "You wouldn't believe how self-hating she is." They call me names but they don't engage in actual debate. Kneejerk doesn't begin to cover it. Don seems to have done the impossible and moved beyond that.
Of course, it must be said that Imus sandbagged me.
I was, let's say, surprised' by the invitation and mulled it over for a week. When I thought I could be professional and said yes, it was supposed to be about the election and it was supposed to be short. It was neither; homey went straight to Black History month, everything I'd ever written about race, everything in the black canon about race and—unbelievably—Rutgers. See how The Man is always setting us up?
Two kids, two books, two cities, and about 15 jobs ago, I wrote a Washington Post column that I can't now find, pleading for someone in public life to admit to sexism or racism or immorality so that the rest of us could. Two of my examples where Justice Thomas admitting to having been a pig towards Anita Hill and Rev. Sharpton admitting that he'd been wrong about Tawana Brawley and paying what he owed to the man whose life and career he'd ruined with his ultimately false accusations. Until someone in public life manned up in that way, we'd all just have to go on lying about our all too human failings, waiting in vain for an example of confession and atonement.
Until then, no one could be forgiven, publicly or privately, for our momentary -ism's and we all are guilty of something sometime. Never thought that person in public life would be Don Imus and damned if the whole forgiving thing isn't much, much harder than I could have possibly imagined. What is it they say about being careful what you ask for? Offended as I initially was to be asked, I'm glad I did the show. He made a mistake, he took responsibility, he asked for forgiveness. Done, Don.