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They squirmed, pencils tapping their desks anxiously; none of their papers contained more than five names. Eventually, all thirteen pairs of eyes made their way from the papers, to the faces of their friends, and eventually, they restlessly shifted over to me and stopped. “This is hard,” whined one seventh grade voice. Another chimed in, “It’s all the same, I can’t think of any more.” The question I had asked was simple: “Please list as many young African American males that you see on TV as possible.”
However, the frustration that manifested itself in the room was proof that something was askew. I asked them to read what they had written. Every list was the same combination of names: Jay-Z, Trick Daddy, P. Diddy, Master P., Nelly, Ludacris, Barry Bonds, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Corey Dillon, David West, Mike Tyson, etc. With the exception of a stray Jett Jackson, every name fell under one of two categories: athlete or rapper. Prior to this question I asked something to the effect of whether TV is fair in its repre…
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