In case you missed this editorial in USAToday on Monday, it's a great one about Bill Cosby and his message to American black men. (and yes, the fact that I'm posting on USAToday means that I'm traveling...)
Funnyman's serious message
Posted 5/21/2006 5:59 PM ET
Sometimes a social problem becomes so overwhelming that silence ensues. Such is the case with the state of America's black men, far too many of whom grow up without father figures and have fallen far behind the rest of society.
Fortunately, there's one voice so clear and brilliant that it adds up to a chorus. That voice belongs to comedian and activist Bill Cosby.
Cosby, 68, is on a 20-city tour, dubbed "A Call Out with Bill Cosby," where he tackles tough issues he first raised in a controversial 2004 speech at the NAACP gala commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court decision that desegregated schools.
The facts are not in dispute. In urban areas, the high school dropout rate for black men runs as high as 50%. Of those who drop out, the jobless rate exceeds 70%. And as of two years ago, 21% of black men who didn't attend college were incarcerated.
But grim facts are not what Cosby adds to the debate. Rather, he speaks the unspeakable, pointing out that some cultural norms in parts of the African-American community contribute to a worsening situation:
Illiteracy. Civil rights workers "marched and were hit in the face with rocks ... to get an education," Cosby says, "and we've got these knuckleheads walking around who don't want to learn English. ... You can't land a plane with 'Why you ain't ...' You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth."
Impact of 'Brown' "What did we do with it? The white man, he's laughing. ... Fifty percent dropout rate; rest of them in prison."
Teen sex. "What is it with young girls getting after some girl who wants to still remain a virgin? Who are these sick black people and where did they come from? And why haven't they been parented to shut up? "
Blame "We cannot blame white people. ... It's not what they're doing to us. It's what we are not doing."
Cosby's candor has stirred criticism from fellow African-Americans. Blaming personal behavior ducks the question of racism and lets white people off the hook, they argue.
No, it doesn't. Any reasonable person understands the destructive legacy that slavery, Jim Crow laws and racism have imposed. Cosby, however, is in a unique position to speak the obvious: Tolerance of destructive personal habits and low education expectations are crippling young black Americans, especially men. This is just the voice America needs to break through the silence.
As I've mentioned before, success in America is not a difficult prospect for those with the will and the understanding of what's required... It's a shame that the anointed black leadership (referred to by some as hucksters, bigots, and crooks).
ARC: St Wendeler