Magazine article Insight on the News

NAACP Ignores the Real Needs of Black People

Magazine article Insight on the News

NAACP Ignores the Real Needs of Black People

Article excerpt

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, seems more interested in fictional black characters than real black people.

Kweisi Mfume, president of the Baltimore-based civil-rights group, has generated headlines lately for pressuring the four TV networks to address what he calls a "virtual whitewash in programming." Last summer, Mfume threatened to boycott the networks "because none of the 26 new shows slated for the fall season have a minority in a leading or starring role." NBC and ABC have agreed to develop more minority parts. CBS and Fox continue to negotiate with the NAACP.

Earth to Planet Mfume: How about noticing the black folks down here on the ground?

At best, this NAACP victory means more work for black actors on Friends or Frasier. Good for them. Black writers, cameramen and production executives will prosper, as will the cast and crew of CBS' City of Angels, a predominantly minority drama that premiered Sunday.

But how about the millions of blacks who don't know Lee Strasberg from Stella Adler? How about those who have not attended college and might not graduate from high school?

The NAACP and the civil-rights establishment desperately need a priorities transplant. Mfume and company resemble a family fighting over the remote control as their house burns down. While they promote employment for black thespians, suffrage for black felons and mercy for teen-age black hoodlums in Decatur, Ill., average black Americans have plunged from the radar of these so-called "black leaders."

Take education. According to a state audit last month, teachers and educrats in New York City's government schools -- home to some 390,000 black students among 1.1 million enrolled -- allegedly padded high-school attendance records with phantom pupils who had moved away, been jailed or dropped dead. Higher head counts equal higher state aid, naturally.

In Gotham's elementary and middle schools, equally ingenious staffers reportedly helped students cheat on standardized tests. Top school officials recently charged that 58 teachers and administrators gave children the answers to math and reading exams used to rank school performance. Exhausted from such malfeasance, New York City's professional educators barely could stand up to teach. Fifty percent of fourth-graders failed a fall statewide math test. In English, 67 percent flunked. Among eighth-graders, 77 percent flubbed a state math exam, while 65 percent failed English. …

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