Johnson-Newman Stung By Imus Comments, Suggests Open Dialoge


(Tuesday, May 15, 2007 2:30 PM EDT)

Don Imus' recent inflammatory comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team outraged the nation. For Middleburg entrepreneur Sheila Johnson-Newman, his words really hit close to home.

Imus' comments “impact me especially, because I am the owner of a WNBA team and a friend of [Rutgers head coach] Vivian Stringer. I'm an African-American woman and the mother of an athlete,” Johnson said in a recent interview.

“He destroyed a historical and joyful moment, and more than anything, he's really highlighted that sexism and racism are still alive today,” she said.

Instead of stewing over Imus' negative comments, Johnson-Newman suggests that people learn from what happened, and take steps to make positive change.

“We need to take what he did and move forward, and have an open dialogue and discuss racism,” Johnson-Newman said.

As owner of the Washington Mystics, part-owner the Washington Capitals and co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, among many other business ventures Johnson-Newman has been recognized as a role model for many women.

She said she does not want women to take comments like Imus' without standing up for themselves.

“I think we shouldn't tolerate being treated in a degrading manner,” she said.

Johnson-Newman currently splits her time between her business activities in Hunt Country; a home she shares in Arlington with her husband, Arlington County Circuit Court Judge William Newman Jr.; and her worldwide philanthropic efforts.

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