Bill Cosby recently received some harsh criticism for some remarks he made at a gala commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. The Boston Globe has the full story in “This Cosby show is undeserved”:
“These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids – $500 sneakers for what? And won’t spend $200 for `Hooked on Phonics,”’ Cosby said. “They’re standing on the corner, and they can’t speak English. I can’t even talk the way these people talk: `Why you ain’t, why 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.”
Though Cosby’s comments were harsh, they are also right on target. And if some blacks are upset with the comedian, it’s probably more for telling tales out of school – airing the community’s dirty laundry – than for launching an unjust diatribe. Nothing Cosby said hasn’t been uttered by other black people, but usually only among ourselves at dinner parties, on back porches, and in barbershops. Some might not be so bent out of shape if his remarks hadn’t found their way into the mainstream media.
I think the root of the problem is that people expect Cosby to impart stoic wisdom combined with family-oriented humor. When he broke from that principle, it shocked people that he was not as jejune as before in his experience with black culture and was succinct and apt in his lamentation.