Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Back from the Islands!

I have been out of town the past few days. Lounging on a Royal Carribean cruise to the Bahamas. I was enjoying life. Watching CNN Worldwide news. Smiling at the stars! Laying out on the beach! Getting a great tan! Walking around beautiful islands.

Now back to R E A L I T Y!

I came home last night to a flurry of emails over Bill Cosby's remarks. So many liberal discussion groups. Shocked! Dismayed! Outraged! How could The Cos air our "dirty laundry" in public? We don't talk about these things amongst "those folks"!

For those of you that have not seen the latest - article about The Cos. Here is an excerpt.

The Washington Post reported that Cosby unleashed a diatribe against "the lower economic people" who, in his estimation, "are not holding up their end in this deal." He said their transgressions included incompetent parenting, poor financial management and failure to master the basics of English. According to Cos, "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!"

And, in comments sure to warm the hearts of lawful citizens everywhere, he also aimed his wit at petty criminals: "These are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake and then we run out and we are outraged, (saying) 'The cops shouldn't have shot him.' What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?"

The Post described the audience's response as a mixture of "astonishment, laughter and applause," which was followed by appearances at the podium from NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert and NAACP Legal Defense Fund head Theodore Shaw, none of whom seemed to be amused in the slightest.

Cosby's remarks later made me think of comedian Dick Gregory who, as it turns out, was on hand to present Cosby with his commemorative medal. Unlike his old friend, Gregory's comic style has long been associated with blistering social criticism.

I remember being in the audience when Gregory appeared on campus during my college days. My pals and I guffawed while he mercilessly lampooned the whites in attendance, who laughed good-naturedly in response. But we grew increasingly uncomfortable as Gregory gradually shifted his focus to blacks. He poked fun at African-Americans who constantly complained about white racism while smoking, eating harmful foods and engaging in other forms self-destructive behavior. Later my friends and I were more inclined to express our dismay at Gregory's willingness to "call us out" in front of white folks than to acknowledge an element of truth in his comments.

That same element can be found in Cosby's remarks. It is true that some blacks continue to engage in conduct that contradicts and undermines the aims of the civil rights movement. He has every right to take them to task. It is far less amusing that Cosby, a multimillionaire, chose to criticize "the lower economic people" when evidence of the habits he condemned -- misplaced priorities, negligent child-rearing, deteriorating morality -- can be found at every level of American society. Why single out poor people, who are least able to defend themselves?

I personally support Bill Cosby. What he said was brave, on target and 100% true. We sit back as persons of color and don't want to discuss the issues and problems that plague our people. It is too easy to just blame racism, the man, socio-economic disparities, etc., on lack of moral character.

I hope that the controversy fuels an open honest discussion on this issue. Perhaps we can have a discussion as people and Americans on how we deal with this issue.

Just my post vacation wishful thinking....


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