Wednesday, June 02, 2004
I am sure everyone has heard about the comments Bill Cosby made at an event in Washington, D.C. not too long ago. He said, in part:
"These people marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education, and now we've got these knuckleheads walking round...the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting, they're buying things for kids -- $500 sneakers, for what? And they won't spend $200 for "Hooked on Phonics"...I can't even talk the way these people talk: "why you ain't, where you is..."
The response to Cosby's commentary has been interesting. While some black community members were aghast at these words, others like Kweisi Mfume supported him.
Someone said that the reason so many people were upset was that Cosby was "telling tales out of school." In other words, while the black community knows it has these problems, they shouldn't talk about it in front of everyone (ie whites). The other common refrain from these same people was "Why didn't Cosby talk about poor white people?"
The answer is simple: He couldn't. Not with the toxicity we have have given race-related matters in this country. He spoke out on what he knew he could talk about, which are the troubles that plague a significant portion of the black community. Heavens knows no white person can do the same, lest they be labelled a bigot, racist or worse.
I happen to think that Cosby was spot on in his commentary. There is a destructive undercurrent in the black urban community today that looks upon education as "selling out." Why? There are numerous theories, which I won't delve into here. But I am hard-pressed to see how Cosby's message of self-reliance and personal responsibility is somehow harmful to the black community. Especially when the government's "help" has done anything but over the past 40+ years. But that's a topic for another discussion.