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The 2006–07 season marked a landmark effort by the Rutgers women’s basketball team. Vivian Stringer’s squad of tough and talented players made it all the way to the NCAA championship game. Their dream season ended with a 13-point loss to Tennessee, but the nightmare didn’t begin until the morning after. During his top-rated CBS morning radio show—which was simulcast on MSNBC—Don Imus and sidekick Bernard McGuirk engaged in some goofy banter that quickly crossed the line:

Imus: That’s some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and…

McGuirk: Some hard-core ho’s.

Imus:·That’s some nappy-headed ho’s there.·I’m gonna tell you that now, man, that’s some…woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know…

The blowback was immediate. Junior Essence Carson, a Paterson schoolgirl legend, said that Imus had “stolen a moment of pure grace from us. “"I would like to express our team's great hurt, anger and disgust toward the words of Mr. Don Imus," she stated. "We are highly angered at his remarks but deeply saddened with the racial characterization they entailed."

"Our moment was taken away,” added Heather Zurich. “Our moment to celebrate our success, our moment to realize how far we had come, both on and off the court, as young women. We were stripped of this moment by degrading comments..."

"I achieve a lot,” said Kia Vaughn. “Unless they have given this name of ho a new definition, then that is not what I am."

Stringer said it best: “Let me put a human face on this…these young ladies are valedictorians of their class, future doctors, musical prodigies and, yes, even Girl Scouts. They are all young ladies of class. They are distinctive, articulate.”

CBS suspended Imus for two weeks immediately after the incident, but as the uproar over his comments grew, the network eventually fired him.


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