Marie Graham is crusading on behalf of her niece, on behalf of our people, and on behalf of women everywhere. The crusade is personal, for her, and it should be for all of us as well. Graham is communicating by fax and email to everyone and every agency and institution in our community challenging us to stand up against the racist and sexist bigotry being administered to our community over the air on B-96 FM radio.
Graham and many in the community are outraged and furious over on air incident in which a white man employed by the station called Graham’s niece, the celebrated and beautiful recording artist, Paris Bennett, a “dumb bitch.”
Opinion: White B-96 radio staton employee calls Black teen ‘dumb bitch’
Paris Bennett, the musical prodigy who represented Minneapolis and Black people to the world as a star and favorite on American Idol, was being interviewed by the white man when he uttered the vile invective.
In a post at the Your Black Wall Street website (www.yourblackwallstreet.com) the public outrage included a call to action: “We must join together and stop White men from calling our beautiful Black Sisters ‘bitches and dumb,’ the web post said.
This morning (12/20/07), B96 morning show host Tone E. Fly called the beautiful and smart singer Paris Bennett a ‘dumb bitch’. This is inappropriate, degrading, humiliating, demeaning and debasing. Our children listen to this station. They (B96) thrive off the African-American made music and artists. We must demand a end to this behavior.”
The web post asked people to call station manager Sam Elliot at 952-842-7200 to protest the racist and abusive conduct of the station employee.
Clyde Bellecourt, founder of the American Indian Movement, and along with Tyrone Terrill and Spike Moss, a co-founder of the newly formed Communities of Color Leadership Council, which recently staged protests against another Twin Cities radio station for similarly offensive language denigrating American Indians, Hmong Americans, and other persons of color, said unfortunately, we are likely to see more of this kind of stuff.
“I condemn them for making and allowing statements like that,” Bellecourt said. “I watched her on American Idol and she is a strong representative for all of us.”
Bellecourt said it is important that our communities speak out against new wave of arrogant contemptuousness afoot in Minnesota and throughout the nation.
Terrill, who also chairs the St. Paul African American Leadership Council, and is St. Paul’s Human Rights Director, said the B-96’s general manager Steve Woodbury should take immediate disciplinary action against the offending employee, “up to and perhaps including, termination, for to a young African American woman in this way.”
Moss said “The Communities of Color Leadership Council wants to knock KQ’s Tom Barnard off the air for his racist remarks. Now we want to knock Tone E. Fly off the air at B96 for his offensive remarks to a young Black woman.”
Bellecourt, Moss and Terrill recently led a hundred protesters under the banner of the Communities of Color Leadership Council in demanding that KQRS (92.5 FM) fire host Tom Barnard and co-host Terri Traen and that the station’s owner, Citadel Broadcasting, stop programming “rooted in prejudice, bias and discriminatory stereotypes.”
“We’re not going to stand for it,” said Bellecourt. “We are going to teach Minnesota the truth about who we are as a people.”
KQRS Radio promised it would apologize, hire Indian interns, and create programming to present the Indian culture and point of view.
Other communities of color have lodged complaints against the station as well. In 1998, KQ employees insulted Somalis and later, Hmong culture.
Bellecourt said that station has not honored any of the promises made and therefore the Coalition is continuing to explore a selective buying initiative aimed at the KQ’s parent company, ABC Disney/Citadel Broadcasting. A protest action could take place at the Disney amusement facility at Mall of America, he said.