Five Things We Must Accept about Comedian Bill Cosby, Whether We Like it Or Not. : ThyBlackMan

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Five Things We Must Accept about Comedian Bill Cosby, Whether We Like it Or Not.

September 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Ent., News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) I recently observed the dialogue that took place between the legendary Bill Cosby and the not-as-legendary Don Lemon on CNN about the state of the black community.  I have a hard time stomaching these conversations because it seems that most of us are comfortable scratching the surface of issues without having the courage necessary to dig to the root of a problem.

It’s easy to conclude that people who make choices that are different from our own are somehow irrational, ignorant and subhuman.  But if you believe that all men and women are created equal, you must confront the possibility that the reason someone responds to the world differently from yourself is because they are dealing with a very different situation.

I am neither a liberal, nor a conservative.  In fact, I am not sure which group annoys me the most.  Overly liberal thought can sometimes promote the idea that any form of behavior is acceptable, and that simply pushing people to be more disciplined and responsible in their lives is somehow a restriction onBillCosby their individual liberties.

The truth is that we live in a community where one person’s actions affect the other.   If half of the ship is sinking due to poor choices, then those of us who care have the obligation to stand up and say, “No, you’re not going to do that anymore.”  That’s the entire premise of our New Paradigm Tour that we’re doing this year.  In fact, I dare say that anyone who seeks to harm the black community is an enemy of the community, even if that person is black.  Those who harm our children must be threatened with exile and even annihilation (this is why I don’t regret what we did to the artist Lil Wayne).  We don’t have time for the mass promotion of self-destructive ignorance, there is too much at stake and our future husbands and fathers are falling into too many societal mouse traps.

Conservative thinking can sometimes prop up white supremacy by concluding that the reason some people are less successful than others is because they are simply choosing to fail.  It refuses to question the growing gap between rich and poor or the difference between the status of black elites vs. the rest of us.  Elitism is easy to point out and hard to combat because elitists are powerful enough to squash the voices of those who disagree with them:  Hence, you have Don Lemon and Bill Cosby using a predominantly white network to make unchallenged and narrow-minded remarks about black people in front of a majority white audience.

If Don Lemon and Bill Cosby were to be equally bold about the role that white irresponsibility has played in the perpetuation of racism, they’d be yanked off the air in 10 seconds flat.   Courage should not be a part-time job.

With that being said, here are five things I love (and hate) about the great Bill Cosby:

1) He’s a very wise, intelligent and responsible human being:  Bill Cosby is our grandfather.  He is the man who has shown a consistent concern for the black community for decades. He is the one who has seen and done more than most of us will do in our lifetimes.  For that reason, he deserves to have a legitimate voice on matters that affect his community.  He has earned his stripes and his life is one that should be celebrated.

2) He can be a bit arrogant, stubborn and self-righteous:   When listening to Bill Cosby, we immediately notice that his listening skills are not as well-defined as his speaking ability.  Even when he was young, Bill Cosby gained the habit of rambling incessantly, going on for so long that he’d even forget the question that was asked.  The host would rarely interrupt him because of his stature, which could lead to a torturous experience for the listener.  This borderline narcissistic way of responding to the world around you can make you appear to be a know-it-all who always believes that your words are the most important comments being made in the room.

3) He cares enough to speak up and put his money where his mouth is:  Even when I don’t agree with Bill Cosby, I am happy that he cares enough to speak.  I’ve seen quite a few celebrities who’ve concluded that an affiliation with blackness is unprofitable and uninteresting.  Bill Cosby has remained loyal to the black community and has done a remarkable number of free speaking engagements to share inspirational messages with those who want to hear them.  This doesn’t count the fact that he’s given more money to HBCUs than nearly every other celebrity combined.  God bless him for that; I wish Jay-Z would get the memo.

4) He comes off as a bit elitist:  Bill Cosby appears to believe that he has credibility when addressing poor black people because he also grew up poor.  But that was a different time, with different challenges, values and opportunities.  Jim Crow was strong and poverty was even stronger.  But families were stable, the prison industrial complex had not become what it is today, and kids weren’t having their ears blasted with toxic hip-hop messages from companies like Clear Channel.   We won’t even mention the violence, where it’s easier for a black man to get a gun than it is for him to get an education.

I would challenge Cosby to realize that too many of our kids are born into situations where astronomical odds are stacked heavily against them from birth.  Being born without a father, dodging bullets on your way to an inferior school that sends you into a world with no job opportunities means that simply pulling your pants up and being a good person might not help you succeed.   Of course, there are kids who overcome these odds and go on to do amazing things.  But we can’t expect that creating a community of 20 million super negroes is going to solve the problem of racism.  Black kids should not be punished for being average.

With the full understanding and agreement that black men must step up and push ourselves to be better, we must also be as determined to speak mightily against the structural obstacles that are designed to keep black people in a cage.  You can’t keep letting a rapist commit crimes without penalty and then curse out the victim for wearing a dress that was too short.  It is not the failing of black men that keeps racism alive.  The cultural failings of white men play an even more prominent role in the structure of our society.  An appearance on CNN gives you more opportunities to challenge white men than black ones, so I suggest that Cosby keep the target audience in mind.

5) We love him, no matter what – at least I do:  No matter what anyone says, I love Bill Cosby.  I think that my appreciation for his advice is due to the fact that my father (not the man who impregnated my mother, but the real man who raised me) is a relatively conservative, former police officer and pastor who rarely believes in making excuses.   So, even though I disagree with my dad on nearly everything, I respect where he’s coming from.  I also understand that we live in a world where, no matter how bad your situation is, no one is going to feel sorry for you.  Equally important is to realize that you can almost never solve any problem by feeling sorry for yourself.

So, while I don’t appreciate Don Lemon using Bill Cosby to further his agenda to prove that he is superior to the rest of us, I can respect Cosby’s effort to share his ideas with those who are willing to listen.  But I would hope that we understand that the same way marches and yapping won’t solve problems in the black community, bashing our people is also a played out strategy that is not likely to yield productive results.

A better approach to solving our problems might be listening to one another, loving one another, and seeking to understand each other.  It also means being just as courageous when we fight systemic oppression as we are when we criticize the choices of baby mamas in the projects.   You can’t be bold and bad when attacking black people, yet meek and obedient when white men walk into the room.   Our tactics must be well-rounded.

Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins 

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  For more information, please visit http://BoyceWatkins.com.

 

 


Comments

7 Responses to “Five Things We Must Accept about Comedian Bill Cosby, Whether We Like it Or Not.”
  1. Marque-Anthony says:

    A COMEDIAN SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN A ROLE MODEL FOR OUR PEOPLE ANYWAY. No other ethnic group I am aware of uses comedians and talk show hosts (Oprah) as role models. Have we forgotten about Malcolm X, Medgar Evers etc.? We didn’t want to believe Michael Jackson molested kids. We didn’t want to believe Eddie Long of New Birth was a homosexual predator, but I read the transcripts and the police reports. We wanted James Brown out of prison even though he beat his wife. Popularity should never be a free pass. I believe Bill Cosby is guilty of many of the accusations. I also believe some of the women were whore-like opportunists back then who simply did not get what they wanted.

    WE NEED TO MAKE SURE OUR BELIEFS HAVE BALANCE

  2. toomanygrandkids says:

    I believed most of what Bill Cosby said when he addressed the problems within black communities. He could/should give those speeches more often b/c not many black leaders/role models visit black schools.

    There’s one thing I’m gonna disagree with about what Bill Cosby said: “Emulate the Black Panthers.” He said some other things about them but I can’t remember. There’s no way on God’s green earth should black children imitate these militants. Anybody w/ good sense wouldn’t go 5-10 feet within them. Especially children. Even Bill Cosby should know that.

  3. Realman says:

    This is a good article but only it only preaches to the already informed.

  4. ROBERT says:

    THE people that love us will tell us what we need to hear instead of what we want to hear; I don’t agree with everything he say’s ; but I understand it’s from his heart; so just as a grandparent or any elder speak’s we should listen with respect!

  5. Great article. Bill Cosby is absolutely right. It’s time to stop blaming racism, it’s Us that keep us down. Entertainers, pro athletes can’t hold on to wealth, wealthy black people don’t build foundations, Gangster Rap has polluted our kids minds, therefore we are in a perpetual downfall with really No hope in sight for the foreseeable future.

  6. Arthur says:

    A very reasonable, fair analysis.

  7. Julie says:

    Excellent article!

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