Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Hyman's Up Past His Bedtime

Mark Hyman has a troubling relationship with the issue of race. Recently, he’s mocked African American concerns about racial profiling and equated Hispanic illegal immigrants to terrorists. Now, Hyman trivializes the disparity in public schools attended by minority children in urban areas and those attended by their white, suburban counterparts.

Citing a study that claims that minority children get less sleep than white children, and that this may affect their scholastic performance.

This may be true. There are any number of reasons why minority children (who are also disproportionately poor) might get less sleep. Hyman implies, however, that it’s simply a matter of sending kids to be earlier (no mention of possible issues such as being in a single parent household, caring for younger brothers and sisters, malnourishment, or any of the other possible causes of sleep deprivation). Put in the larger context of Hyman’s oeuvre, the subtext isn’t hard to pick up: minorities should stop whining about needing more money from the government for schools and get their kids to bed.

Hyman leaves himself with a rhetorical escape hatch, saying that the sleep issue should be studied “aside from other factors,” allowing him to say he’s not simply blaming minority parents for the divide between white and minority scholastic performance. But again, regular viewers of “The Point” have no trouble understanding what’s being said.

Anyone who’s concerned about the actual causes of minority underperformance should read Jonathan Kozol’s book Savage Inequalities. Maybe we’ll a copy to Mark for Christmas.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


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