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Saturday 22 May 2004

Bill Cosby Lets Some Truth Slip Out

Following on the heels of Maryland Governor Erlich’s comments that people who live in the U.S. should learn to speak English, Bill Cosby, at a party in Washington commemorating the 50th anniversaty of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, has pointed out that Black America has a problem with English, too:

“They’re standing on the corner and they can’t speak English,” he said. “I can’t even talk the way these people talk: ‘Why you ain’t.’ ‘Where you is.’ … And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. … Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. … You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!”

And it’s not just English, either.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal,” he said Monday night. “These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids - $500 sneakers for what?

Now, I don’t think that too many poor parents are buying $500 sneakers for their kids. But the basic message — that it doesn’t help matters when many poor people (many of whom are black) do not appear to be even trying to live within their means while at the same time clamoring for more government assistance — is still true. It rather sends the message that they will, with their limited means, look for luxuries while expecting someone else to provide them with the necessities. This does not engender respect.

When Cosby finally concluded

‘Finally’? How often do you read in a major publication, the sentence ‘When Bill Cosby finally shut the hell up’? Elsewhere in the article, it’s mentioned that Cosby’s speech was met with ‘laughter and applause’, so it doesn’t sound like he was delivering a self-serving rant. But the Washington Post (whose story this is, though it appears in Newsday; I couldn’t find the original) sees things differently. Anyway:

When Cosby finally concluded, Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and NAACP legal defense fund head Theodore Shaw came to the podium looking stone-faced. Shaw told the crowd that most people on welfare are not African-American

Undoubtedly true; but it’s also undoubtedly true that African-Americans are overrepresented among welfare recipients. That is, about 12% of the American population is black, but more than 12% of welfare recipients are. That the NAACP chooses to congratulate itself in that less than 50% of welfare recipients come from that 12% of the general population is telling, I think.

and many of the problems his organization has addressed in the black community were not self-inflicted.

Perhaps, then the NAACP should start addressing the problems in the black community that are self-inflicted, rather than blaming all their woes on others.

Posted by tino at 13:48 22.05.04
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From the Sunday Washington Post:

In fiery remarks last week in Washington, Bill Cosby took the black community to task for parental failures that he says have led to high dropout rates, crime and other social ills. After we published brief excerpts of his cultural critique — delivered at a gala marking the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation ruling — several readers called for more. Conservative broadcasters seized upon Cosby’s remarks, but he was unrepentant in an interview yesterday with The Post’s Hamil Harris: “Do I not make a move to speak to the people that I love?” he said. He plans to continue preaching his tough gospel, which was motivated, he said, by District Police Chief Charles Ramsey, who earlier this year called on the community to do a better job of parenting. NAACP Executive Director Kweisi Mfume said he agreed with “most of what Cosby said” and hugged him after the speech. “He said what needed to be said,” Mfume said. “I was talking to the movers and shakers,” Cosby emphasized yesterday. Here’s more Cos, as tape-recorded by Harris Monday night: “I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was 2? Where were you when he was 12? Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn’t know that he had a pistol? And where is the father? … “The church is only open on Sunday and you can’t keep asking Jesus to do things for you. You can’t keep saying that God will find a way. God is tired of you,” Cosby declared to loud applause. “I wasn’t there when God was saying it, I am making this up, but it sounds like what God would say. In all of this work we can not blame white people. White people don’t live over there; they close up the shop early. The Korean ones don’t know us well enough, so they stay open 24 hours.” On fashion: “People putting their clothes on backwards: Isn’t that a sign of something gone wrong? … People with their hats on backwards, pants down around the crack, isn’t that a sign of something, or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up? Isn’t it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up to the crack and got all type of needles [piercings] going through her body? What part of Africa did this come from? Those people are not Africans; they don’t know a damn thing about Africa. “With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail. Brown versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person’s problem. We have got to take the neighborhood back. We have to go in there — forget about telling your child to go into the Peace Corps — it is right around the corner. They are standing on the corner and they can’t speak English.” On sports heroes: “Basketball players — multimillionaires — can’t write a paragraph. Football players — multimillionaires — can’t read. Yes, multimillionaires. Well, Brown versus Board of Education: Where are we today? They paved the way, but what did we do with it? That white man, he’s laughing. He’s got to be laughing: 50 percent drop out, the rest of them are in prison.” On teenage sex: “Five, six children — same woman — eight, 10 different husbands or whatever. Pretty soon you are going to have DNA cards to tell who you are making love to. You don’t know who this is. It might be your grandmother. I am telling you, they’re young enough! Hey, you have a baby when you are 12; your baby turns 13 and has a baby. How old are you? Huh? Grandmother! By the time you are 12 you can have sex with your grandmother, you keep those numbers coming. I’m just predicting… . “What is it — young girls getting after a girl who wants to remain a virgin? Who are these sick black people and where do they come from and why haven’t they been parented to shut up? This is a sickness, ladies and gentlemen.”

fromL http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A48909-2004May22.html

Posted by: Paul M Johnson at May 24, 2004 01:21 AM

Bill Cosby was absolutely, 100% correct. We have to stop blaming Whites for the deeply dysfunctional behavior of the Black underclass. We have huge problems facing that part of the Black community - drugs, crime, Black-on-Black violence, the huge numbers of Black men in the criminal justice system, AIDS and “down low” bisexuality, gangs, Black disdain for education as “acting White”, fatherless families, rampant teen pregnancy and a 73% illegitimacy rate, lack of respect for the larger society, and a subculture that glorifies “thug life”. But the biggest problem is that we still are unwilling to face these problems head-on and at least admit that virtually all of them are self-inflicted. “We” have to fix “us”. Thanks, Bill Cosby, and Amen! I appreciate you speaking truth to ignorance. We need to stop blaming Whites for our own self-inflicted problems, we need to get over this “cult of victimhood” mentality (nod to Professor John McWhorter), and we have to admit that the Black underclass bears almost all the responsibility for its current sorry condition. It’s just that simple. One final point - I think we should nominate Bill Cosby to be the next president of the NAACP. I’m serious. Cosby just did more to help Black America in one 30 minute speech than Kwesei Mfume has done in the last five years.

Posted by: Jamaal Michaels at June 6, 2004 04:06 PM

Promoting the idea that it is only or even mainly poor black parents who do not have any sense of community or financial responsibility, neglect their children, teach their children bad habits, and dress funny is unconscionable. And to imply that somehow white people as a whole are to be looked up to and provide a shining example of the antithesis of this lack in virtues is ridiculous.

There are many people in this country (nay, on this planet) who do not live up to their responsibilities or potential. There are many that do. Bill Cosby seems to believe that somehow poverty, ignorance, and the legacy of slavery are no longer an issue and that black people no longer suffer from any type of racial backlash; and that somehow having financial accuity, being educated, and having morals and sense is the providence of white people to which everyone ‘else’ should aspire.

His comments are more than likely well meant. But imagine them coming from the lips of a white man of Bill Cosby’s age and hear them for the patronizing, racist tripe they really are.

Posted by: Deborah Nesbit at April 9, 2005 05:10 PM