Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby Face Growing Challenge by Black Professors - Marc Lamont Hill and Boyce Watkins Appear on CNN to Discuss Concerns

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Black Professors concerned that Cosby and Winfrey comments on black youth are ultimately detrimental.

It seems that Oprah has no problem with the Grammy and Oscar winners, but when it comes to rank and file black males, she tends to ignore or misrepresent them. Her frustration with rappers even led her to edit out the comments by (hip hop star) Ludicris on her show. I was offended by that.

Prominent African-American professors Dr. Marc Lamont Hill and Dr. Boyce Watkins have appeared on CNN recently to challenge Oprah Winfrey regarding her perceptions of black males and inner city students. Dr. Hill, a Professor at Temple University, appeared on Showbiz Tonight and Dr. Watkins (Syracuse University) made similar statements on CNN's Paula Zahn Now. Both men are respectfully concerned that Winfrey's statements and actions may have a detrimental effect on poor African-Americans, especially men.

When asked why she built a school in Africa instead of America's inner cities, Ms. Winfrey replied, "I became so frustrated with visiting inner-city schools [in the U.S.]. If you ask the kids what they want or need, they will say an iPod or some sneakers. In South Africa, they don't ask for money or toys. They ask for uniforms so they can go to school."

Dr. Hill questioned Winfrey's statements, saying that she is misdirecting her frustration with the poor condition of America's inner city schools. "[H]er deployment of a Cosby-esque 'blame the victim' approach to the American educational crisis is both facile and counterproductive," says Hill, who makes regular appearances on CNN and Fox News. Hill says that it is unfortunate that "Oprah 'Everybody Gets A Car!' Winfrey sees no irony in the fact that her own show pushes many of the products that she says contribute to our youth's wanton consumerism."

Dr. Watkins agrees that Oprah's perceptions are misguided. "How in the world can you look at the deplorable statistics in our inner city schools and say that the kids are to blame for this?" says Watkins, the author of "Everything you ever wanted to know about College". "She can spend her money as she pleases, but don't attack and throw away our kids in the process."

Watkins also feels that Oprah's statements about inner city students may relate to her general perception of black males. On CNN's "Paula Zahn Now", Dr. Watkins questioned Winfrey's representation of black men on her show. "It seems that Oprah has no problem with the Grammy and Oscar winners, but when it comes to rank and file black males, she tends to ignore or misrepresent them. Her frustration with rappers even led her to edit out the comments by (hip hop star) Ludicris on her show. I was offended by that."

Hill and Watkins are also outspoken critics of Bill Cosby for his attacks on the inner city. Hill's comments in The Baltimore Sun Times and Watkins' comments on The Wendy Williams Experience have led to a powerful backlash from Cosby himself.

"Our greatest enemy in the black community is the elitism that leads some of us to think that we are better than others," says Dr. Watkins, the author of 'What if George Bush were a Black Man?' "It's easy for Bill and Oprah to says 'What's wrong with those Negroes?' It's much harder for them to engage in critical and constructive dialogue."

Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is Assistant Professor of Urban Education & American Studies at Temple University and the editor of http://www.barbershopnotebooks.com. He makes regular appearances in the national media, including CNN, FOX News, and various other media. Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of "What if George Bush were a Black Man?" He makes regular appearances on ESPN, CNN, FOX and other networks. For interviews, call Lawrence at (502) 640-8155 or visit http://www.MarcLamontHill.com and http://www.boycewatkins.com.

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