Skip to comments.His (Bill Cosby) words sting because truth hurts (Cynthia Tucker Alert!)
Posted on 05/27/2004 8:58:16 PM PDT by mafree
Never mind Howard University.
The administration of the Washington institution is apparently in a bit of a huff because Bill Cosby used its podium to criticize the failings of black America -- especially its underclass. Howard's leaders, who won't release a transcript of Cosby's speech, are still not prepared to have a public discussion of self-inflicted wounds.
But much of black America, especially its middle class, is ready to have that conversation. In that sense, Cosby's speech was a watershed event -- a sign that black America is now comfortable enough with its accomplishments to discuss its shortcomings.
"Perhaps Bill did us a favor," says NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, who attended the ceremony, "and more people will now be prepared to step forward. It'll be a tough love conversation, whether or not people want to have it. And it will take opinion leaders to say those things that should be said."
Not all black Americans agree with the remarks Cosby made at a May 17 celebration of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision. Indeed, his criticism of everything from speech patterns to spending habits among the black poor was pointedly politically incorrect.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal," he said. "These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids -- $500 sneakers for what? And won't spend $200 for 'Hooked on Phonics' " to improve their children's reading and speech.
Of the disproportionate number of blacks in prison, Cosby had this to say: "These are not political criminals. These are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake, and then we run out and we are outraged, saying, 'The cops shouldn't have shot him.' What in the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?"
After the speech, Theodore Shaw, head of the NAACP legal defense fund, rushed to the podium to serve up a rejoinder, noting that larger (read "white") American society still bears some responsibility for the failure of so many black Americans to join the economic and cultural mainstream. That is clearly so.
But isn't it about time that black Americans acknowledge that, at the dawn of the 21st century, personal responsibility has at least as much to do with success in America as race? Isn't it only fair to note that the landmark Supreme Court ruling of 50 years ago did roll back much of systemic racism? After all, if you believe that racism continues to largely limit black success, that will certainly prove itself true.
"There is no reason that black students have to do poorly in math and science, in speech, in cognitive abilities," Mfume said. "When you're quiet about those [shortcomings], young people notice, and it sounds like you're giving your approval."
Some blacks have recoiled from Cosby's pointed remarks, not because they disagree, but because they don't want to discuss certain ignominious truths in front of white folks. They fear such painful self-analysis will only provide fodder to the race-baiters -- the Neal Boortzes and Rush Limbaughs -- who work hard at stoking a white backlash.
I'm sure Boortz and Limbaugh have already made ample use of Cosby's speech to stir up the racist rants among a certain segment of their listeners. So what? They'd look for excuses to poke the tender wounds of race no matter what Cosby had said.
It is more important that black Americans have a spirited debate about the challenges of the post-civil rights era: How do we raise the academic achievement of black students? How do we curb black-on-black crime? How do we attack an AIDS epidemic spreading like wildfire in black America?
In a way, Cosby's speech was an eloquent reminder of the stunning success of the civil rights movement that followed the Brown decision: Black America is strong enough and successful enough to admit its shortcomings and gird itself for the work ahead.
Cynthia Tucker is the editorial page editor. Her column appears Wednesdays and Sundays.
Did anybody here watch Scarborough Country tonite?
Some black racist complaining about white racists, calling them honkies was saying that Cosby shouldnt be saying this stuff because it belongs in the family. Then he went on to say Loius Farakhan was more appropriate of a figure to talk about these things.
I have heard similar remarks coming from Louis Farakhan. no uproar about it though when he says it.
Little Cynthia still clings to the racist notion that only blacks can criticize the black community.
Well, it's a start. Before Cosby's speech, she thought no one could criticize the black community.
This shouldn't be too difficult to answer. Maybe you get out of it what you put into it? Maybe you reap what you ........... ? There's got to be a real effort by both the student and the PARENTS.
How do we curb black-on-black crime?
Well, that shouldn't be too difficult to answer. PARENTS? While you're at it, I am not a big fan of black-on-white crime either.
How do we attack an AIDS epidemic spreading like wildfire in black America?
This one shouldn't be too difficult to answer either.
There's also a lot of problems in the white community. The answers are pretty much the same.
foolish summary in this article.
most people only care if you are a helpful, good american. we no longer see color because we are too busy looking for the bad guys. blacks (hispanics?)who insist upon being cool in the hood are missing out on a big opportunity to join the mainstream.
if people in ANY region, of ANY color, insist upon speaking or behaving badly, well then, they aren't going to get very far and with this country's mindset right now, most americans don't have the interest in listening to any more whining. Cosby was right,too bad the self-proclaimed 'black leaders' wouldn't step up like he does.
COSBY's new message about the Black Community has been Rev. JESSE LEE PETERSON's B.O.N.D. message for over a decade:
Signed:.."ALOHA RONNIE" Guyer / Veteran-5 B.O.N.D. National Days of Repudiation of JESSE JACKSON
(It was my Honor)
Still I think things may be starting to change. Everyone gets impatient with the underclass (whatever race) when they seem so content with not making much effort. You can only feel sorry for people for so long.
Whites have it easier as far as the white underclass --- there isn't any "white-unity" going on, the educated, self-made, or otherwise well-off whites never feel any connection with the lazy no-good trash types. You never hear whites saying they want to "help their people". The low-class whites are on their own.
The problem is the lack of PARENTS in the black community. Not only that, a lack of respect for male authority. Once upon a time, black kids could be shamed into good behavior by any adult black, especially one advanced in years. That control has gone away.
I think some feel that way because Farrakhan would be unlikely to be making his remarks in front of a white audience.
He also criticized black parents for giving their children "ridiculous names" such as Shainqua and Taheisa.
One reason why it's said so often among blacks is the perception that low-class whites are still white and therefore have a chance to make it for themselves. Rightly or wrongly, many blacks do not believe the same is possible for blacks and so low-class blacks are more in need of "help."
At the same time, many, many blacks have washed their hands of lower-class blacks so the above isn't as widespreads as it once perhaps was.
I don't think Cos was talking just about blacks only. I think he said "low economic" meaning just that. We could all do a better job of pointing young people in the right direction.
Maybe the help is actually doing them more harm than good. At least for the whites in the same position, they pretty much know no one is going to come along and help them -- if they want to be helped they're going to have to do themselves. No one feels sorry for poor low class whites, just like the blacks, whites also figure they have a chance to do it on their own. Once you become one of those "my people" who someone wants to help, you're being turned into a helpless, dependent type.
Quite possibly not but because the setting was a celebration commemorating the legal end of blacks being separated in schools anyone would say "low income" means "Black." That perception is usually out there anyway.
We could all do a better job of pointing young people in the right direction.
Amen and amen.
I think we need a few more black talk show hosts on radio besides the few that are out there. Letting the libs in the media handle this on TV with no call ins(input)doesn't help. Instead of those rap stations blacks should be developing some good talk show hosts so they can air out topics like this.
You hear that John Kerry? DNC?
The primary problem that blacks have is a huge chunk of them have embraced victim status with the fervor of religion.
They can't achieve anything because of the history of slavery 160 years removed. The truth of it is every race and nationality has been enslaved at one point or the other.
Jews were enslaved by Egyptians, Assyrians, Romans
Celts were enslaved by Romans,
Greeks were enslaved by Romans
The Ottoman Turks enslaved everybody.
Only the Blacks continue to use it as their primary identity and their ongoing excuse.
If you are a victim you never accept that 90% of what happens in your life is your fault. Education is not bestowed by showing up. Like everything else in life it takes work.
This has been heavily discussed on most black talk shows and the overwhelming majority who have spoken up agree with Cosby's remarks. Most of these folks ain't votin' for Bush this fall but they do agree with Cos on this one.
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