August 4, 1920: 10 Famous People Whose Lives or Reputations were Tainted by Racism

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A Brief History

On August 4, 1920, in Winchester, Kentucky, Helen Amelia Thomas was born, a woman that would go on to the top of her profession as a White House journalist for UPI and then Hearst Newspapers. Highly esteemed, Thomas made remarks in 2010 pilloried in the press as being anti-Semitic. Her long and illustrious career now in tatters, Thomas retired from Hearst and died in 2013 at the age of 92, no longer famous as a journalist, but instead infamous as an anti-Semite. Numerous public persons have ruined their standing with the public by making seemingly racist comments, and today we list 10 examples of some of the more famous incidents. What other people would nominate for this list? Michael Richards? Charlie Sheen? Jimmy the Greek? John Wayne?  (For politicians caught making racist comments, see our article “10 U.S. Politicians Who Have Done or Said Racist Things”.)

Headline: On August 4, 2018, the news feeds were abuzz with the horrible history of racist tweets by a newly hired member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times.  The Times is possibly the most important newspaper in the United States, so their willingness to hire a blatant man-hating racist is especially troubling. As you can tell from our content, we do not condone racism, sexism, cop bashing or any other form of hate speech.  Here are some of the things (just a few) this idiot, Sarah Jeong, posted in 2014 and 2015.  You decide if the New York Times should keep this creep on their Editorial Board:

 ‘f*** the police’ (on numerous occasions and in numerous ways)

‘If we’re talking big sweeping bans on s*** that kills people, why don’t we ever ever ever ever talk about banning the police?’  (Ok, call a drug dealer next time you need help…)

if only ‘bad men’ were killed, that would still include all men

‘f*** white women lol’ 

“Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men.”

‘Kill more men’  

#CancelWhitePeople’, ‘white men are bulls**t’, and ‘Dumba** f*****g white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants’

What did the Times say?  “We hired Sarah Jeong because of the exceptional work she has done covering the internet and technology at a range of respected publications.” Her professional Twitter name? #CancelAllWhitePeople.  What if this sort of crap came from a White man about women and other races or professions?  Would the New York Times hire that man and give him a position of authority?  Of course not!  Hey Times, fire this troll NOW if you want to retain any credibility.  What do you readers think?

Digging Deeper

1. Helen Thomas, Journalist.

Thomas was the highly respected elder stateswoman of the White House Press Corps when she went on a rant against Israel vis à vis the Palestinian homeland question. Castigating Israel is a generally bad idea in the United States if one’s public relations are to remain positive, but Thomas, of Arab Lebanese descent, went on to claim “Congress, the White House, Hollywood and Wall Street are owned by Zionists.” This shocking and sweeping statement was to be the end of her career in the White House Press Corps, though she was reported to have voluntarily resigned from Hearst rather than being fired. She had reported from the White House for 10 Presidents, starting with John F. Kennedy.

2. Don Imus, Radio Host.

John Donald Imus Jr., a native Californian, was born in 1940, gaining fame as a radio “shock jock” starting his career in 1968, a career that reportedly inspired Howard Stern and other successful radio and television satirists. The insensitive racial incident that virtually ended Imus’ career was during a 2007 discussion about the hard playing Rugers women’s basketball team, a group of young women Imus referred to as “rough girls.” (Perhaps because of their hard play, perhaps because of their penchant for tattoos.) His executive producer Bernard McGuirk replied with a comment describing the Rutgers women as “hardcore ho’s” to which Imus eventually countered with describing these college girls as “nappy-headed hoes.” Any American born in 1940 should be well aware of the negative connotation in referring to African Americans as “nappy headed,” and the “ho” name would be insulting to just about any young woman. McGuirk, apparently not so smart himself, went a step further by saying, two teams (Rutgers and Tennessee) looked like the “jigaboos versus the wannabes.” Really. Grown up men with good jobs really said this while being recorded! In spite of enormous public denunciation, Imus did not slink away into retirement as you would expect. He went on in 2008, to make another what the heck racial statement when discussing an NFL football player that had been involved in a night club shooting, when other brushes with the police in Adam “Pacman” Jones life were brought up. This racist conversation concluded:

Don Imus: What color is he?

Warner Wolf: He’s black.

Don Imus: Well there you go, now we know.

Obviously, Don Imus is either a racist, or is extraordinarily insensitive. He had also called Howard Stern a “Jew bastard,” and referred to Arabs as “ragheads.” In fact, he has insulted all sorts of other races, religions and cultures. Oh, and he did not get fired for the 2008 Pacman Jones incident, but he was fired by CBS in 2007 for the “nappy headed hos” statement. Of course, McGuirk was fired for his part in the debacle.

3. Howard Cosell, Sports Announcer.

A Jewish American attorney turned sportscaster, Cosell was famous as one of the voices of Monday Night Football. He is often “credited” with saying, “Look at that little monkey run!” in reference to an African American football player, but in fact that statement is a misquote, although he said variations on that theme a few times. Using the appellation, “Little Monkey,” is apparently a term of endearment to Cosell, who was known to have referred to his grandchildren as “little monkeys.” Unfortunately, using a “monkey” reference in conjunction with an African American is blatantly unacceptable, regardless of how you “meant” the term. Cosell used this term to describe White baseball player Glenn Hubbard (1982) and White football player Mike Adamle (1972), as well as a 1973 outburst, “Look at that little monkey run!” in reference to Herb Mul-Key, an African American Washington Redskins running back and kick returner. It was not until 1983 when he referred to Washington Redskins wide receiver Joe Washington, “Joe Gibbs wanted that kid, and that little monkey gets loose doesn’t he,” that the public outcry helped speed Cosell’s retirement from broadcasting.

4. Roseanne Barr, Actress/Comedian.

The chunky Jewish actress and comedian had once upon a time had a hit television show, and in 2018 it was time to try to reboot the franchise for another run. The rebuilt show aired one episode and became an instant hit, even lauded by President Trump! Quickly picked up for a second season, the show seemed on its way to making a ton of money for ABC, Roseanne, and all persons involved in the production. Then Roseanne made a Tweet heard ‘round the world. Concerning Valerie Jarrett, an African American woman who had been a senior adviser to President Obama, “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby.” Garnering immediate censure, Roseanne fought back, saying, “ISLAM is not a RACE, lefties. Islam includes EVERY RACE of people”. This “explanation” failed to resonate with the public, and her new show was cancelled after only 3 weeks, a veritable gold mine that collapsed. Roseanne’s half-hearted apologies were not accepted and her career may well be over. Not a stranger to charges of racism, Roseanne dressed up as Adolf Hitler in 2009, and showed a tray of burnt gingerbread men cookies, calling them “burnt Jew cookies.” Oddly enough, the Hitler photoshoot appeared in a Jewish magazine called Heeb Magazine, an article called “That Oven Feeling.” Wow! Who would think something of this nature could be controversial?

5. Hulk Hogan, Professional Wrestler.

Terry Gene Bollea made a fortune and a fantastic career as probably the greatest professional wrestler in history and also as an actor and video game character before he ruined his public career.  Speaking about his own daughter, Hogan destroyed his public reputation while in a hotly contested legal action against Gawker.com in 2016 over the 2012 airing of a secretly recorded sex tape featuring the big wrestler. “I don’t know if Brooke was f*cking the black guy’s son. I mean, I don’t have double standards. I mean, I am a racist, to a point, f*cking n*ggers. But then when it comes to nice people and sh*t, and whatever. I mean, I’d rather if she was going to f*ck some n*gger, I’d rather have her marry an 8-foot-tall n*gger worth a hundred million dollars! Like a basketball player! I guess we’re all a little racist. F*cking n*gger.” Apparently claiming that, “…we’re all a little racist…” is not an acceptable excuse to refer to African Americans as the “N” word.

6. Bill Maher, Comedian.

In spite of being friends with many African Americans and having a long history of siding with the African American cause in civil rights issues and in everyday life, Maher blundered when he thought his long association and friendship with people of African descent gave him a free pass to drop an “N-Bomb” on his HBO show, referring to himself as a “House n****r.” Maher was stunned by the immediate and virtually unanimous reaction by his Black friends condemning his casual use of the hated word, even though Maher had been referring to himself. An apologetic Maher was chastened by his Black guests on his next show.

7. Donald Sterling, NBA Team Owner.

The billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA, Sterling had a mixed race mistress, V. Stiviano. Stiviano (born Maria Vanessa Perez), a woman of Mexican and African American descent. On April 26, 2014, TMZ released an audio recording Stiviano had made of Sterling ordering her not to show up at Clippers’ games in the company of Black men. The NBA, heavily dependent on African American players, coaches, and officials, conducted an investigation that found the voice on the recording to indeed be that of Sterling. The 80 year old (at the time) Sterling was fined $2.5 million and booted from the NBA for life, making the sale of the Clippers a necessity. The offensive conversation came after Stiviano posted a picture of herself with former basketball player Magic Johnson on the internet. “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people”, and, “You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want”, but “the little I ask you is … not to bring them to my games”. An NBA owner asking someone not to bring Black people to a basketball game! Geez, quite often there are 10 of 10 Black players on the floor. The insensitivity involved in this incident is nearly unfathomable.

8. Mel Gibson, Actor/Filmmaker.

Did you know Mel Gibson is really American, not Australian? He was born in Peekskill, New York, in 1956, and has dual American-Irish citizenship by virtue of his mother being born in Ireland. As far as Australia goes, Gibson has status as a permanent resident, having moved there with his family in 1968, when he was 12 years old. Gibson is well known to be fiercely religious with a Catholic background. When stopped for drunk driving in 2006, Gibson asked the arresting officer, “F***ing Jews… the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?” The officer happened to be Jewish. He also made lewd comments to a female officer. On another occasion, Gibson taunted his ex-romantic partner, Russian singer/songwriter Oksana Grigorieva, saying that if she got “raped by a pack of niggers” it would be her own fault. Gibson’s anti-Semitic rants and his use of the “N-word” has diminished his luster as a premier actor and filmmaker, turning off many movie fans.

9. Paula Deen, Cooking Guru.

Born Paula Ann Hiers, this Georgia belle is a Southern American television cooking show host and purveyor of delicious, though incredibly fattening and artery clogging dishes and desserts. Deen (the name taken from her first husband) insulted Lisa Jackson in 2013, when Paula made disparaging comments about African Americans in Jackson’s presence. It seems Jackson has African American (mixed race) nieces and the aggrieved Lisa filed a suit against Deen. Paula was also accused of planning a real “plantation style” wedding utilizing only Black servants. Although the lawsuit was dismissed, and Deen denied using the “N” word when speaking to or in front of Jackson, Deen did admit having used the “N” word at other times in the past. The fallout of the incident for Deen was dramatic and fast. She quickly was dropped by the Food Network (television) and lost all sorts of deals with stores and endorsements. Even former President Jimmy Carter came her defense, saying the beleaguered cooking guru had been punished enough. The writer of 15 cookbooks, the now toxic Deen was even dropped by her publisher. Deen has since made somewhat of a comeback, making a few television appearances and by 2016, landing another gig as a television hostess.

10. Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Boxer.

Known as “Money Mayweather” for the excellent reason that he has made more money boxing than any other boxer in history, Mayweather is in his life outside the ring a not so great human being, having been involved in at least 3 domestic violence cases or assault against women, being convicted in each case, and also being convicted of threatening his own children. Mayweather also was charged with assaulting a bouncer at a club, an equal opportunity assaulter it appears. He disrespected Asian people by claiming that NBA basketball star Jeremy Lin was only famous for being a good ballplayer because “he is Asian.” Mayweather also made racist comments about Filipinos in conjunction with his fight against Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao. Apparently, money cannot buy class.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Kendi, Ibram. Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. Nation Books, 2016.

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About Author

Abdul Alhazred

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad." "How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland