In your Feb. 14 issue, Dr. Julianne Malveaux was clicking on all cylinders when she incisively noted that “the media want a controversy” at Harvard between President Lawrence Summers and the university’s African American studies department. According to media theorists Max McCombs and Donald Shaw, “the media not only tell us what to think about, but also how to think about it, and consequently what to think.” So in this case, the general media tell us what to think about (Africana studies), how to think about it (questioning its rigor and value) and consequently what to think (do we even need African American studies?). So thank goodness we have Black Issues In Higher Education and the nation’s 200-plus African American newspapers.
In addition, as a journalist, communication professor and former dean of a Black cultural center in California and board member of ABCC (Association of Black Culture Centers), I am glad to see Black Issues give these centers a public forum to make their case. However, question marks in a title or headline, as was the case in this story, suggest that the editor or writer already decided that these centers are “standing on shaky ground.” The bigger question is, “Are these centers located on a level playing field or in a war zone?”
Keith Orlando Hilton, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Communication
University of the Pacific
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