When radio host Don Imus took to the airwaves of his radio show on April 4, 2007, to opine about the NCAA Championship Basketball game between the Tennessee Volunteers and Rutgers Scarlet Raptors, he referred to the latter team as “nappy-headed hoes.” Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson called for the shock jock’s firing and sponsorships to be pulled — both of which occurred. Al Roker penned a scathing letter decrying Imus’ racist and sexist words, and national conversations about race dominated prime-time television.
It was a big deal.
However, when comedian D.L. Hughley spoke about the domestic violence allegations against actor Columbus Short and called the actor’s wife a “thirsty bitch,” Black people were more silent than Tiger Woods during the singing of the Black National Anthem. Short’s time on the hit ABC series “Scandal” began ticking away after a number of off-the-set incidents made national news, including the domestic violence charged by his wife, Tanee McCall-Short.
And in the midst of all of this, Hughley felt the need to say, “I think that broad shouldn’t be telling all his business if she gone take him to court.”
When his female co-host, Jasmine Sanders, tried to challenge him over his sexist remarks, he dismissed her to speak with male co-host Steve Wilson because he has “nuts,” saying, “I don’t think you believe half the shit you saying right now, Jasmine.” Wilson laughed in the background, co-signing Hughley’s behavior. “This bitch was thirsty,” Hughley added. “The bitch was thirsty. What, she gone go back to dancing? She gone f*ck her money up?”
Calling a woman a b*tch is a big deal too, but no one seems to care.
Listen To Hughley here (Part 1):
With the exception of Kirsten West Savali‘s rebuke of the funny man’s sexist commentary in xoJane and a few folks who badgered Hughley’s Twitter handle, the same angry Black people who wanted Imus hammered to the stake have said almost nothing. Apparently, a Black man disrespecting Black women — or, in Hughley’s case, a woman who claims she was abused by her husband and has witnesses to prove it — is OK.
Well, it’s not OK, and as a Black man who has reported on domestic violence during my journalism career, I can tell you that none of the women I have interviewed were “thirsty” about filing a police report that could rip their families apart, and according to many of the women I have spoken with, doing so enraged their abusers even more.
I could go in to all of the numbers that prove that domestic violence is a serious issue, but that would digress from the main problem: That a Black man who works for a Black media company can get away with calling a Black woman a b*tch on live radio — and arrogantly defend it on Twitter. From the Black male co-host who sat by and said nothing to the Black people who own the company standing by and saying nothing about a Black radio host who berated a domestic violence victim in near Too Short fashion, this whole situation shows what a failure Black men have become when it comes to respecting Black women.
For all of the numbers Hughley tossed around about the number of women who file false domestic violence reports, he dismisses the number of women who actually have documented proof of abuse. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that one-quarter of physical assaults, one-fifth of all rapes, and one-half of all stalkings against females are never reported to the police. Many of the women I have interviewed tell me they have endured years of abuse because they were too ashamed to admit to their friends and family that they would “let someone abuse me.” Many of them stayed because they were homemakers who felt they had no choice but to stay for the sake of their children. Under Hughley’s faulty logic, these women were smart to be mum because they would be “dumb to act against their financial interests.”
Listen To Hughley here (Part 2):
When I posted my reactions to Hughley’s sexist commentary on my Facebook page Monday night, a high school friend of mine inboxed me and we ended up speaking on Skype for hours about her abuser and how hard it was to leave him. Ironically, she met Hughley in Germany and wanted me to post this note for him and other women who experience domestic violence:
For the past few hours, I have been pondering on a picture and a conversation. What’s the correlation? Me and DL Hughley. See, a few years ago this was the same man that came and brought laughter to the troops and their families in Germany, just as he does on his daily radio show. The same man that uplifts the morale of the soldiers as he does for civilians displayed a demoralizing and disgusting view a few days ago, in light of a domestic violence incident. Now, I look back at this picture and see someone completely different. Perhaps, this is what domestic violence does; it continues to creative division. When does the success of a Black actor overshadow or diminish the wrong that a person does? Why do people place a higher priority on status, success, and or wealth, than the status or value of an individual’s life or well-being? What price does the mind, body, and soul have when you have been left broke and broken?
I was never married to a celebrity but a Captain in the military for over 10 years. I finally found the courage to report my abuse when my husband left me at the airport bruised and with a bloody broken nose. This wasn’t the first time, but the worst. I really felt like I was going to die. My soon to be ex even wrote in his own words in the police report that even in combat he had never seen so much blood as he had on me.
There was so much blood that I blacked out several times and felt as if I was going to die. My husband was discharged from the Army and now I am back home left with no support from the military. I share this because domestic violence is a silent killer. Women are more than likely to continue to suffer the abuse than to struggle and rebuild — especially with kids. I understand sacrificing financial security over physical safety. I did this for quite some time. But when do you compromise and put a price on your life and those of your children?
Sometimes, I wish I would have continued to stay quiet and live comfortably, but who’s to say I would still be alive to enjoy the price I paid for comfort over peace of mind, sanity, and safety? Comments like Mr. Hughley’s continue the cycle of abuse. You may call it your opinion. But what do you call an opinion when you speak harshly upon someone who is victimized? You, too, become apart of the crime, in my opinion. Words are the invisible scars that never heal. It hurts me to my core when a woman stands up for her legal rights but continues to be further beat down because someone’s status, wealth, or reputation means more than her physical, emotional, and mental safety.
The woman is not only physically battered, but continues to be emotionally and socially battered and ridiculed by the ignorant mind-set that many like DL have. I know her pain and share in her pain. There should be more done when anyone is abused. If you saw my husband, he definitely does not depict the abuser but what does an abuser look like? It is never what society wants him to look like or the depiction on TV. It’s that wholesome, educated family man that takes his family to church and dinner, and you say, “I wish I had that.” But the pain and secrets are all hidden behind those pretty doors and behind that well-manicured lawn.
Thank you, my friend, for allowing me to share your story and refusing to “shut the f*ck up” as Hughley would suggest that you do. Because my friend is still struggling to deal with the trauma of her abuse and is uncomfortable going public, I won’t publish the photo of her and Hughley. But she did say I could publish a YouTube video of Hughley performing at her base in Germany. She is shown sitting in the audience, but I will not identify her.
Watch Hughley perform for the troops in Germany here:
That is OK. I will speak up for her and all of the women whom Hughley would rather you not hear from. Hughley’s outrageous and ignorant remarks not only disrespected Tanee McCall-Short, they disrespected my friend and all of the women whom he wants to listen to his show.
And Black America Web, who carelessly published the headline “Why Columbus Short’s Wife Should Keep Her Mouth Shut,” is equally as guilty for basically co-signing his sexist behavior. How can a Black media company that depends on Black women for support be so careless as to stand by and allow a Black man to be so disrespectful?
The publishing of Hughley’s remarks on Black women and domestic violence really reveals how broken down our values are in the Black community. And for all of the Black men who love giving other Black men advice on how to properly treat women, I seriously doubt any of them will stand up to Hughley. They are no better than the White male-dominated good ol’ clubs that co-sign racism and keep Blacks in their place.
As a Black man, I will stand up for McCall-Short, my friend, and all of the Black women who have experienced domestic violence. But what I really want is to speak to Hughley — one Black man to the other — on his radio show about how hurtful his words are so that we can educate our men on domestic violence and what it really means to support the women in our community.
You may want Short’s wife to “shut the f*ck up,” but neither I nor my colleagues will “shut the f*ck up” until you, your Black male co-host, and Black America Web are held accountable for your co-signing of verbal bullying against domestic violence victims.