5.24.2006

Why are We Mad at Bill Cosby

Can someone please tell me why we're mad at Bill Cosby. Did he lie? Did he stutter? Is he traveling the country using his bully pulpit to libel and slander Black people? Should we revoke his Black membership card for talking outside the group and spilling community secrets? Or are we just mad because he is telling the truth and "we" don't want to hear it?

Bill Cosby is traversing the nation, talking about the plight of the Black community in general. The lawlessness, the dropout rate, the illiteracy, and the overwhelming problem of babies giving birth to babies. No one is quibbling about what he is saying, just that he is saying it. Cosby is apparently fueled by the anger that a lot of us are feeling right now. Those old enough to remember a vibrant civil rights movement that won many of the rights and privileges that these young knuckleheads (Cosby's word) of today take for granted.

My niece graduated from high school this past week. She is an honors student, National Honor Society, in fact and headed to college on a full ride scholarship. I am so proud of this kid. While watching her make her first steps into adulthood, I looked over her graduating class. I didn't make a scientific head count, but it was obvious that for every male in that predominately Black school, there were three females. That night was a joyous celebration of achievement and promise by both the students and their families and friends who showed up to bear witness.

It was a scene that brought tears to my eyes for two reasons. One, my happiness for my niece and two, that not enough of our young people are finishing school, especially young men. For me, it was bittersweet. And don't think it's been easy for my niece. She comes from a fatherless home, raised by a mom with three other kids vying for attention. Even for us, who are solidly grounded in middle class, there is always struggle before achievement. But we are taught from birth to "not let them see you sweat." Our community seems to have given up. Those who can have moved on and out away from the problems isolating and insulating themselves in the suburbs.

Another comedian, Chris Rock, I believe, does a comedy routine talking about the difference between "niggas and black people." He says he doesn't mind living next to Black people, but he won't live next to niggas. We laugh as we get into our late model Lexus and drive 50 miles back to the burbs. But the truth is most of us don't want to live next to niggas either. We just don't want to openly admit it. We turn a blind eye unless somebody like Bill Cosby brings it up and begins painting everybody with a broad brush. Then folks want to get mad. Well, we should get mad, but not at Cosby.

We should get mad because of the violence that chokes our neighborhoods. We should get mad because not enough young men finish high school preferring to answer the siren call of the streets. We should get mad at the overwhelming number of young men, and increasingly young women, who are ending up in jail. We should get mad at the stupefying rate that young black women are getting pregnant. We should get mad at the unchecked AIDS epidemic within our community. We should be mad at ourselves but not Cosby, he is only the latest messenger.

The war is here folks, when are we going stop killing the messenger and wake up and fight?.
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