Kareem Abdul-Jabar Jones, Daily Mississippian (Oxford, Miss.), July 21
You have to hand it to him, William “Bill” Cosby, Ed.D., our favorite ‘80s and ‘90s television dad.
What was supposed to be an acceptance speech for receiving an award turned into a sermon at the 50th Anniversary commemoration of the Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., decision several months ago. Dr. Cosby, like a Baptist preacher, spoke fire and brimstone down on the “lower [black] economic and lower [black] middle economic people” to pull their weight. Dr. Cosby said that they were not “holding their end in this deal.”
The deal he claims is that they are not participating in educating their children; they’re not teaching their children morals and that “God is tired of [them].”
This speech occurred months ago and now Dr. Cosby is on a national tour of major cities trying to provoke these people to change their ways and get back to God.
I watched, like many of you watched, numerous television journalists and other prominent and non-prominent black philosophical individuals speak for and against the words spoken by Dr. Cosby about these people. And of course, like many of you, I immediately made up my mind that Dr. Cosby had in fact lost his mind without reading the full transcript of this event. Well, I finally got around to reading the speech and I must say, I do believe Dr. Cosby has lost his mind, but not for the reasons one may think.
Dr. Cosby, it’s easy to criticize these people at this point in your career. These people, the ones you wish would now get their act together, idolized you at a time when white Hollywood didn’t believe in you. They said, white Hollywood, “the Huxtables were not your typical black family.” And for over a decade, these people helped you to prove this wrong by religiously watching your show during the early ‘80s and up to the early ‘90s. Are you suggesting that these issues were not a problem then?
In these people’s households, Dr. Cosby, their punishments were not being able to watch your show, “The Cosby Show,” on Thursday nights at 7 p.m.
Dr. Cosby, these people watched your show and believed that they too could one day be able to purchase one of your expensive sweaters and brag about paying $5,000 and more for a painting to set above their fireplace like your family.
Dr. Cosby, why did you not tell these people not to watch your show but instead read a book or do their homework before watching your show? Why? Because you wanted the money and the success — something that these people also sought.
Dr. Cosby, these people watched your television family never tackle one issue about racism personally.
Dr. Cosby, you carelessly had them, these people, believe that if they got an education, they would be able to receive the “pie in the sky.”
Dr. Cosby, why did you not have Lisa Bonet’s character, Denise, face issues such as not being hired for a job because she refused to change her style of dress or because she refused to cut her hair?
And for those of us that watched the show, we know that Denise’s character believed in being an individual.
So, Dr. Cosby, as I see it, you were and still are a part of the problem. You still refuse to discuss these issues with “these people.” Do you recommend that these people change, not their language, not the way they wear their clothes, but their individuality as well?
In today’s society with terrorist threats all over the globe, we still respect the right that Islamic women keep their covering. Why can’t we respect the fact black people can maintain their individuality in the work force by wearing dreadlocks and other natural hairstyles?