Thursday, April 12, 2007

L'affaire d'Imus

I remain dumbfounded that Don Imus making a crass racist/sexist comment became a news item for an entire week. Firing him is worse than he deserves, but I'm sure he'll find a slot on satellite radio or something in a few months.

LAist's Tony Pierce (who is black) made a good point:
Last week UCLA accepted 11,837 new students, but only 392 were black. This is in the wake of last year's disgrace of only accepting 249 black freshmen with just 100 actually enrolling. To me that is way more troubling than a cheesy DJ trying to have some sort of edge, because it shows a major university in a large city faced with an obvious problem but still can't find more than a handful of blacks to offer a higher education.

Either it means that blacks, particularly those in LA, are not getting proper high school educations that would make them eligible to attend their local UCs, or UCLA doesn't really give a shit. Those are issues that I'd rather the press be focused on right now instead of Al Sharpton and Don Imus posturing and tapdancing.

Incidentally, I think the source of the problem is more likely the former than the latter. The problem, of course, is bigger than just UCLA; the problem is that across America from kindergarten through high school, a lot of black students aren't getting the education they need to succeed. There's a lot of reasons why this is, and fixing the problem is going to take a lot of work from a lot of different angles. But really, I think at this point --- 140 years after slavery but only 40 years after desegregation (my own father graduated from a segregated high school in Florida) what the black community needs is a couple of generations of black children wanting to succeed in school, believing they can succeed in school, and given the tools and attention they need to succeed in school. Do that, and nobody's going to have to worry about affirmative action, the disintegration of the black family, the huge number of black men in prison, or even idiots on the radio.

UPDATE: I should probably note that I've never listened to Imus's program myself, so I couldn't tell you how much of a pattern the notorious comment was. I couldn't even tell you if his show was on the air in L.A.; I never came across it myself. In the mornings, I typically listen to Adam Carolla, Kevin & Bean, a CD, or baseball news on XM.


At Friday, April 13, 2007 at 8:14:00 AM PDT, Blogger Paul C. said...

I hate to go on a bad-media rant, but I don't think it helps that much more attention is given to flashpoints than ongoing trends. People just won't pay attention to the headline "Higher Education Opportunities for LA Minorities Still Limited, Experts Say" like they will to "CBS Radio's Imus Spouts Racial Slur." It's not just a case of alarmism either- it's stasis vs. incident, and nobody wants to read that something still sucks. You can't spell "news" without "new," after all.

At Friday, April 13, 2007 at 12:41:00 PM PDT, Anonymous doafy said...

So if you're interested, you could check out my favorite columnist, Leonard Pitts Jr. He writes for the Miami Herald and regularly discusses the big issues of what's going on in the black community, especially with regards to education. I became a big fan (and very interested in the topic) when I lived in New Orleans. Here's his page:

His latest article is on Imus, but he's recently started a series called "What Works" about helping black kids especially to succeed. You can see all the articles from that series off to the side under, appropriately, "What Works."

At Friday, April 13, 2007 at 5:47:00 PM PDT, Anonymous clynne said...

Dad attended two high schools -- were both segregated? I didn't know Escambia High was segregated, but thinking about the era and location, it's kind of obvious!

At Friday, April 13, 2007 at 6:47:00 PM PDT, Blogger Adam Villani said...

I don't think the high school in Spain was segregated; the military integrated some time before that and I doubt they would have gone through the trouble of building two tiny high schools on the base.

Dad said that when he came back to Pensacola, there was one integrated high school, one black high school, and one white high school (Escambia, where he went). Integration, obviously, was a big issue at the time; ask him about it some day. By the time Sue went there, it was integrated. NFL star Emmitt Smith, who is black, graduated from Escambia High around 1986 or 1987.

At Tuesday, April 17, 2007 at 8:32:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Lue-Yee said...

It's ludicrous and sad that after so many years so many economically disadvantaged people are still being denied a proper K-12 education that equips them adequately for university study.

"Do that, and nobody's going to have to worry about affirmative action, the disintegration of the black family, the huge number of black men in prison, or even idiots on the radio."
I think you're right about affirmative action and, to an extent, about prison. The problem of idiots on the radio can be alleviated, but with the system that we have it will not really go away. We speak our minds all the time even when we don't know the facts: it's the "American way". But I believe the disintegration of the black family reaches beyond what K-12 education, or even tertiary education, can solve.


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