He's cutting no slack to the black community.
One of my favorite people in the whole world, even though I have never met him in person, is Bill Cosby. I saw him perform a couple years ago but have been a fan of his since his routine of Noah back in the early 60’s. Being an education major, I remember that my college professors in the 1970’s used him as a great example of someone “thinking outside of the box” in the field of education for children. But “Cos” has stepped out again and made the national news. This time it was in a speech given to the annual conference of the Rainbow Coalition’s Citizenship Education Fund in Chicago earlier this month. He has always been one to call it the way he sees it and his speech to the conference was no different.
He addressed educational issues for black children by saying they are running around not knowing how to read or write and “going nowhere”. He also had words for some abusive black men by telling them: "Stop beating up your women because you can't find a job."
To the parents he commented on their kids: "Let me tell you something, your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2:30 every day, it's cursing and calling each other nigger as they're walking up and down the street … they think they're hip, they can't read; they can't write. They're laughing and giggling, and they're going nowhere."
Continuing his remarks: "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."
Now one might think that his comments might be offensive to the black community. But during this event, Cosby found a receptive audience and was interrupted several times by applause. He did what few others could do. He castigated some blacks, saying the black community could no longer blame the “white community” for problems such as teen pregnancy and school dropout rates. He was basically saying “take responsibility for yourself and don’t blame someone else.” Now there is a lesson for all people, regardless of ethnicity.
Cosby’s most vocal concern came regarding the use of the word “nigger”. The slur was once used by “those who lynched blacks” and is now becoming a favorite expression of black children. And he blamed the parents. "When you put on a record and that record is yelling 'nigger this and nigger that' and you've got your little 6-year-old, 7-year-old sitting in the back seat of the car, those children hear that."
Cosby found an ally in the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who is the founder and president of the education fund. Jackson said: "Bill is saying let's fight the right fight, let's level the playing field. Drunk people can't do that. Illiterate people can't do that."
Even though it was only 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education and less than 40 years since the signing of the Civil Rights Act, Cosby said many young people have forgotten those important events in recent American history. Young people have responded to those heroic stands by not caring about their own lives and dropping out of school. That response is unacceptable, according to Cosby.
Cosby continues to be a highly respected individual in many areas and his comments are not to be taken lightly. The comments would not have been as powerful coming from outside the African American community. But the comments were made by a leader who has fought hard to see a change in his community and in education. The comments couldn’t have come from a better spokesperson.