- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2000

High esteem

"Race and 'self-esteem' are inextricably bound in the popular imagination. Thanks to racism and discrimination, the theory goes, a core of self-doubt lurks in the heart of every black child and young adult. If we could only raise black self-esteem, academic and economic achievement would follow.
"The evidence for this line of thinking is everywhere. At Detroit's public, all-black Paul Robeson Academy, students start the day by standing up and proclaiming: 'I feel like somebody. I act like somebody. Nobody can make me feel like a nobody.' …
"Almost everyone remembers the work of psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark, who from 1938 to 1977 conducted experiments showing that black children preferred white dolls over black ones. The Supreme Court footnoted the work in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, in which the court pronounced that the assignment of black children to segregated schools 'generates a feeling of inferiority … that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be overcome.'
"Since then, however, psychological studies of black self-esteem have offered increasingly mixed results… . In a recent issue of Psychological Bulletin, an African-American psychologist is offering what some in the field take to be the final word on the issue. Blacks don't have less self-esteem than whites, her findings show. In fact, they often have more."
Christopher Shea, writing on "I am somebody," June 2 in Salon at www.salon.com

Provocative prayer

"Pop princess Britney Spears equals a phenomenon, one whose record sales … are only part of a bigger story. 'In December of '98, she clearly changed female pop,' says Michele Dix, vice president of music and talent programming at MTV. 'The premier female artists were the Mariahs, the Whitneys, the Madonnas. There was also a Lilith [Fair] sound, with Jewel selling millions. And here was this very young performer who broke through the barrier.'
"Today on MTV, the premier female artists are Christinas, Mandys, Jessicas all of whom fall short of the drinking age. Spears, who came first, is the emblem of this new girl-pop landscape… . 'It's important when I say stuff,' says Miss Spears, a Baptist raised in the Bible Belt. 'When I was on MTV, I was talking about my prayer book that I write in every night, and someone in the audience was like, "That's so cool." And I was like, "Oh, that's so good that I said that."
"A yen for provocative outfits and a prayer-writing habit? Seems contradictory unless you have a teen in your life."
Jennifer Graham in "Britney Goes Hawaiian" in the June 3 issue of TV Guide

Not kosher?

"Laura Schlessinger is the biggest thing in talk radio these days… . She is unapologetically Jewish, always wearing a star of David in public and talking about her faith on the air and crediting Judaism as the inspiration for much of her advice… .
"Along with her regular advice urging women not to let men take advantage of them, Laura has occasionally let drop her opposition to homosexuality … the gay groups appear to want to drive Laura off the radio if she does not recant her views… . How far down the slippery slope of political correctness do we want the media to go? What starts out as a focused boycott can quickly snowball into a blacklist of unpopular ideas. Even if I don't agree with Laura's attitude toward gays, she ought not be denied a radio or TV show… .
"Even more important for Jews and other persons of faith, if Dr. Laura is made an example because of her beliefs, does the fact that she draws these opinions from her understanding of traditional Judaism mean that she is being purged for what amounts to an expression of her and our faith? Quite possibly, and that should give her critics pause. Surely, we are not prepared to say that Orthodox Jewish views about homosexuality, such as those supposedly espoused by Dr. Laura, can no longer be spoken in public."
Jonathan S. Tobin in "Is It Kosher to Boycott Dr. Laura?" posted June 2 on www.jewishworldreview.com

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