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Is Bill Cosby Right? : Or has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?
In May 2004 Cosby delivered a speech at the NAACP Awards in which he said he blamed what he termed the "knuckleheads" of the African American community for poor parenting, poor academic performance, sexual promiscuity and criminal behavior. The audience laughed and applauded. Here, Dyson (humanities, U. of Pennsylvania) comments on both the speech and the reaction, finding a growing cultural divide between the "Afristocracy" (the African American elite and professional classes) and the "Ghettocracy" (the African American poor, working class and incarcerated). He finds evidence of abandonment of the aims of the civil rights movement among the elite, and a growing perception that the poor have no one to blame but themselves, despite obvious, ongoing and vicious racial discrimination in America.
Last May, iconic comedian Cosby raised a storm with a dyspeptic rant about the self-destructive failures of the black underclass: "knuckleheads" without parents who "put their clothes on backward," speak bad English and go to jail. To pop culture intellectual Dyson--author of books on Marvin Gaye, Tupac Shakur and Martin Luther King Jr.--this was the most blatant manifestation of an attitude shared by the "Afristocracy." With empathy and energy, Dyson takes Cosby at his word and dissects his arguments--as well as the comedian's own conduct--in order to combat Afristocratic dogma. While Dyson is merciless in assessing both, he takes the opportunity to explore a host of hot-button issues in black culture, from illegitimacy to faux African names, citing data and making his own case for black culture as adapted to a dominant white society that systematically puts up barriers to opportunity. The prolific Dyson has already generated controversy with what finally amounts to an evisceration of a major black figure, but that seems to be precisely the point. Despite the specificity and ferocity of Dyson's critique (which draws on allegations that Cosby sexually abused a woman and fathered an illegitimate child, and understates the race politics of The Cosby Show), Cosby ends up more of a straw man than take-down victim, as Dyson celebrates the "persistent freedom of black folk." 12-city author tour; 40-city radio satellite tour. (May)
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1 . Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?
Posted February 28, 2011 by BB , SeattleI think Bill said what needed to be said. I am truly astonished at the consistent monolithic thought process of many black Americans. As soon as someone disagrees with so-called black mainstream thought, they are labeled Uncle Tom or listed as crazy. Until black Americans take it upon themselves to solve our own problems, we will always see the greater majority of our people suffer. Blood is thicker than water and color is thicker than absence of color. We have gotten all we are going to get from mainstream America, now its time for us to stand up and do whatever we can in a peaceful, hard working and intellectual way to improve our lot. The models to success already exist; we simply need to sturdy them and implement the sections of these models that will work for us. Trying to silence a different opinion only serves the continuation of tried out and proven failed philosophies. In summary I agree with much of what Bill has to say!
Basic Civitas Books
January 22, 2006
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