Last time I checked, Don Imus-gate resulted in “ho” being a punishable word when used in the media to refer to Black women.
But just two months after Imus, the word seems to be gaining ground again, on novelty shirts, and most recently, in a popular fashion review on TMZ, a celebrity gossip website.
After the Black Entertainment Television Awards show last week, Tmz.com posted a blurb, in typical style-review fashion, attacking the guests’ evening wear. But what is normally innocent hardballing of celebrity fashion, became another forum used to insult Black women by devaluing their sexuality. TMZ got it wrong when they called powerhouse Beyoncé a “roboho,” for wearing a metallic suit on stage, and rapper Eve, a “streetwalker chic.”
Because when it comes to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, a couple of TMZ’s most covered stars, TMZ portrays their fashion flops as more legitimate fashion mistakes—like copying people’s styles or wearing the wrong colors.
Still, we rebuke hip-hop artists and people like Don Imus for calling women of color ho’s. And we should. But we can’t be so quick to think the problem stopped with Imus.
“Ho” continues to be associated primarily with Black women, making it not only sexist slander, but a very racist one. Writer Jasmyne Cannick would agree.
- ► 2008 (37)