Day By Day

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cosby Speaks

The Inky has a nice article on Bill Cosby and his message to Black America — one that is worth noting:

Bill Cosby’s popularity in the African American community hasn’t been the same since he started speaking his mind about it. He has told parents to start parenting. Told the community it was complicit in the misogyny, vulgarity, violence and racism in black culture.


Monday, Cosby joined Men United for a Better Philadelphia on an 11-block antiviolence march through West Philadelphia.

And what did he have to say on the occasion? His most important words were directed at Black individuals and the Black community.

Individual. How about this for an unusual statement?: The killers are wrong. Many may be teenagers, on drugs or poor. They may have suffered disrespect, violence or crime. They may belong to an oppressed class or race, trapped in a hopeless system in which every roll of the dice is a loser.

No matter: If they kill, they’re wrong. They are always wrong.

Cosby’s message to young men: Stand up and accept yourselves as responsible agents. Step away from the annihilations of backward rage. Accept that murder makes you less of a man.

Family. Be closer to your children, Cosby said. Parents should “love and hug” - create a home environment of acceptance and closeness, to counter the fear and brutality outside. And fathers can’t teach if they don’t stick around. “We’ve got to teach our children to think of other ways to settle ill feelings” - one of Cosby’s best lines on Monday. Which leads to:

Community. As Penn professor Elijah Anderson has shown, the “code of the street” has undermined older codes of right and wrong in the black community. Individuals can help change such malignant codes - but scuttling them will take the effort of many villages. Better, more watchful neighbors. Friends being better friends. People unafraid to say, “That’s wrong.”

“Stop waiting for Christ to come,” Cosby told the crowds, a shocking line - but also Christ’s own teaching (Luke 17:21, “The kingdom of God is among you”): That the future rests with us and our work. This can become the city of brotherly and sisterly correction if the neighborhoods will shoulder the task. More marches. More speaking out. More teamwork. More work.

Beyond that there are the usual bromides — anti-gun legislation and more interracial dialog, federal support for local efforts to control violence…, that sort of thing. Actually, his prescriptions when he is talking directly to Black men, Black families, and the Black communities are pretty common-sensical too. Quit killing each other, love your children, and come together to reject violence in your communities. What is interesting is that such advice is considered by the media to be “shocking” and “unusual.” Even more so, Cosby’s admission that big government can’t do everything and that people have to do things for themselves.

It’s something to think about.

Read the whole thing here.

Hat tip: JB