A case in point is “The Bluest Eye,” the beautiful and angry debut novel by America’s only living Nobel Prize winning novelist, Toni Morrison. In it, Morrison contends that black people, and black women in particular, are constantly reminded of their perceived ugliness, and this perception ruins lives. Her story centers around a family—Cholly, Paula, Sammy and Pecola Breedlove—who are told again and again they are ugly. They are each told it so many times that they come to believe it themselves, and it destroys them, each in a different way.
Morrison was writing in 1970, 37 years ago. Things are supposed to have changed. But what was it that Imus was saying to the Rutgers women’s team with the “nappy-headed hos” quote other than, “You’re ugly. You may have accomplished something on the basketball court. You may have gone further in your tournament than people expected. But my producer thinks you’re ugly, and I agree with him.”