September 25, 2004

Bill Cosby & why his remarks should be denounced

Bill Cosby’s comments regarding the bad choices and irresponsible behavior of the black underclass needs to be repudiated. Not because bad choices and irresponsible behavior is not taking place in a segment of the black population, like it does in segments of every race or ethnicity. The reason being that Cosby ignores the root causes, as well as, sets a false baseline of comparison.

The most profound and effective means of socialization of learned behavior, in all animals, is via emulation of the behavior of those like it in its environment. All animals, including humans, look, learn and copy. This starts from infancy and continues through life. Thus, when people are reared in poor environments, they are socialized by that environment to perpetuate the behavioral patterns of that environment, which helps to perpetuate condition. The same is true for affluent environments as well.

Bill Cosby and others like to look back and tell the black youth of today that they had it much harder because racism was more oppressive back then. The implication being is that if blacks such as he, and others, could educate themselves, be responsible and achieve success, back then, there is no excuse for the youth and parents of today not to be able to pull themselves out of the abyss of poverty and questionable behavior and choices.

What is not mentioned by Cosby is that white racism and oppression did come with a few beneficial side effects. The forced segregation of the past created black communities composed of educated professionals, the working class and the poor. This allowed poor blacks to see successful blacks on a daily bases. They were tangible and visible templates for emulation, advice and connections. Also, the oppressive nature of whites manifested a strong black collective unity. Blacks truly looked out for one and other and their children. Many would take risk helping others out…that is just how it was when the enemy of white racism was overt.

That is the world that Cosby came from and benefited from that he now ignores is lacking. Today, with integration and assimilation, upper and middleclass blacks are parroting the behavior of whites, that resulsted in the original creation of the ghettos. As soon as they can, they try to get as far away from black/poor folk as possible, the difference being is that blacks are discriminating by race and class and not just race, like whites did.

People like Cosby are part and parcel to the problem that the criticize and point the finger at others for. They are, by becoming reclusive elites in the suburbs, exurbs and gated communities, depriving poor blacks of the tangible role models of success that many older blacks enjoyed when they were growing up. Back in the day, black leaders did not sit on pedestals up high, criticizing the behavior of the black poor below. Rather, they criticized their neighbors, because they were right down their in the trenches with them and could do so without having to air our laundry. If you are going to move away from the heart of the black community...then you have no right to complain about the conditions there...helped to incubate by your departure. When you point fingers, they point back at you.

If Cosby was living in these black communities, he would not have to say what he is saying through the media…talking “at” folks instead of “to” and “with” folks. That is true for all the black critics of the poor, who only speak “at” the poor via the white media. This is why diry laundry is being aired. The problem is not what they are saying, but who they are saying it through via proxy. If all these critics were down with the people, living their life and allowing others to learn and emulate from them, they would not need to publicize this rhetoric trhough white ears.

The old school black folk, who rose out of poverty, also lived in a time were the dominant culture was more moral, in regards to issues of family. Today, youth are reared in a much more individualistic immoral(Born from white immorality and irresponsiblity) society . All kinds of bad behavior promoting entertainment exist on television, motion picture and music industries, corrupting the minds of the most vulnerable or impressionable in society, which is the young. Cosby never had to deal with such in his day. The concept of “shame” still had power in shaping behavior back then, but today there is not shame in an individualistic American Culture.

Let us not forget…Bill Cosby criticizes the way black kids are talking these day, but he seems to forget the vernacular and non grammarian speakers he parroted in the “Fat Albert” popular TV comic strip. Heyyybeeee mannnnbeeeeee…how was he teaching black youth to talk back then…by example?


At 3:17 AM, Blogger BIKO said...

I agree with you because your absolutly right. But, I can't help to wonder why you didn't get any respones to that very controversial topic.

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Nazinga said...

This is a real issue, finally something worth while. I agree whole heartedly with the comments directed towards Cosby. So many, many people seem accostume to that detrimental behavior. What happened to the free lunch programs the after school programs grenerated from our own neighborhoods. I long for a day when mothers and fathers believe once more that it takes a village. Right on brotha!

At 10:20 AM, Blogger abw said...

I agree with your analysis. I would just like to add that too many narrow race critics themselves have dropped the ball in both personal and community responsibility themselves. Men and Women "back in the day" made mistakes but tried and did in many instances walked the talk. Something that cannot be said for some of these leaders that get in the media and cluck away.The Blacks of today have slightly more access to wealth and nothing else. Not to downplay the hardships of the past but to say this generation has new crosses to bear.


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