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Think. Discuss. Act. African American Culture

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Review: A March On Too Much TV

Jackson, Derrick Z.  “A March on Too Much Television,” The Boston Globe, 2Nov05, A13.


(Download March on Television overview as a PDF)

As thousands stood in line to honor the coffin of Rosa Parks, an initiating hero of the Civil Rights Movement, this African-American columnist reviewed the many marches, and marches to commemorate marches, with these reflections:

We need marches to keep memories alive of how hard and dangerous the movement was. We also need a March into the future as millions of African-Americans remain well behind white Americans in virtually every quality of life indicator….

As Barack Obama, the only black member of the 100-person US Senate, put it in The New York Times this week, “In the absence of dogs and horses, there is no immediate, obvious enemy before us, so it’s harder to mobilize a sense of outrage.”

Jackson continues to make his main point:

There is an obvious enemy before us. It is the academic achievement gap. Of all the things that can outrage black people in this country, it should be the number one. We do not need to walk the 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery. The longest March in this struggle is only a few feet long. The rekindling of the civil rights movement might just be walking up to the television and turning it off.

Politicians have and are talking about this education gap and the No Child Left Behind act. But goals of these programs are unachieved, partly because of large funding cuts. We also lack creativity in regard to testing gaps. But another reason is that television receives more attention than homework in many African-American homes.

According to Nielsen Media Research, the television is on in the typical African-American home 11 hours, 10 minutes a day, compared with 7:34 in white homes (79 hours a week in black homes to 52 hours a week in white homes).

On average, black children watch nearly two hours more television a day than white students, which translates into 14 more hours a week that black students could be reading or doing homework…. Different studies indicate that the percentage of black children who watch six or more hours of television a day, about 40 percent, is as much as triple that of white children. Virtually every study concludes that when you watch that much television, you will be a poor student in every subject….

It might seem like a simple thing. But with the TV off, parents just might have the time to March on the schools themselves to demand a just education.

Questions for Reflections and Discussion

1. What is your reaction to this article? Is it justified? Is it extreme? It is appropriate?

2. What most impresses you here? Are there things we can do about the academic gap between whites and Asians, blacks and other minorities?

3. Is it understandable why those with less to look forward to and less support and opportunities will turn to accessible entertainment?

4. What realistic responses do you have to the challenges described here?


1. Although not mentioned in this article, No Child Left Behind has accomplished some positive goals-especially where school systems and parents are investing heavily in making it work.

2. Where local school systems find themselves strapped of necessary resources and parents become discouraged, it is important that other social systems, the national government, local businesses, churches and religious organizations, volunteers all step in to help.

3. The education of all children is crucial for a healthy society. Investing in schools is a lot cheaper than investing in prisons.

Dean Borgman
© 2018 CYS

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