Yuk It Up Mr. Cosby
I was surfing the internet looking for photos I could use for an up and coming article regarding movies for the black community and how they have changed over the past twenty years. One of my favorite old school black movies featured Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier and so I wanted a suitable photograph of the two. I go to Google and type in the appropriate parameters and start my search. Low and behold I found this photograph of Bill Cosby yukking it up with George Bush in some ceremony where the President is presenting Mr. Cosby with some medal for his service to the country. The date associated with this photo is sometime in 2002, a few years before Mr. Cosby embarked on his “Black People Ain’t Doing Shit” tour of America. I looked at the picture and all the disappointment with Mr. Cosby came roiling back to the surface of my mind.
Back in the day, knee high to my dad, I used to watch Bill Cosby with the rest of my family when he was a young comedian doing his stand up routines. It must have been part of the Flip Wilson show or the Ed Sullivan Show. He would talk about the fat kid in his neighborhood named Fat Albert. I vaguely remember when routine when he talked about how they would open a fire hydrant to cool off in the summer and how Fat Albert could sit on top of the hydrant and direct the water with his body. Fat Albert had such control he could use the water to knock a cigarette out the mouth of the driver of a car passing by without getting the vehicle wet. I didn’t fully understand all the jokes. But I understood enough to make a connection with Mr. Cosby. I grew up thinking this man understood me.
I watched the cartoon Fat Albert when it was a television special that only came on television once or twice a year. I celebrated our good fortune when we were able to watch the Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids cartoon every Saturday morning. I watched Bill Cosby as he pushed Jell-O down our throats and made us thirsty for Coke Cola. I watched Bill Cosby when he did I Spy with Phillip Culp. I watched the original Cosby series when he played a bachelor high school coach. I started watching the Cosby Show with the Huxtables from the very moment the show appeared on the NBC television network. I watched a lot of Bill Cosby.
But one day I was watching the Huxtables go through their motions of playing a black family in America and I realized I had no connection with these people. Somewhere along the way we took two different directions. The Cosby Show went Middle American and I stayed black American. The Cosby Show never showed anybody who could have remotely considered themselves from a Fat Albert type neighborhood. The problems of the people in the Cosby show were never the problems for people in the black community but the problems from a Middle America perspective. The Huxtables might as well have been the Brady Bunch. Even when the show was adjusted to bring in their wayward cousin the show never showed problems from a uniquely black perspective. That and the fact that the show stopped being funny were enough for me to stop watching. Yet I continued to support Mr. Cosby and give him the benefit of doubt.
But then Mr. Cosby had to get high and mighty and share his contempt of black people by standing in front of his rich white mindset peers and declare the black community as a failure. Mr. Cosby made very broad and general strokes of criticism about the black poor and the black underclass that gives credence to some of the worse African American stereotypes. Mr. Cosby stands in front of the upper crust of society, people who have the disposable income to pay a couple hundred dollars to have dinner and hear Mr. Cosby speak, and then rakes the people in Fat Albert’s community across the coals. Maybe he though he was being clever and funny. But in actuality he was being judgmental, narrow minded, and racially dishonest. Mr. Cosby’s betrayal of the black community runs deep. His blatant bigotry hides under the cover of some claim of concern for the black community. Then again maybe his point was to demonstrate and reinforce the other stereotype that black people have no loyalty to other black people when money is involved.
Mr. Cosby doesn’t hesitate to say that the black poor and the black underclass use incorrect grammar. But he hasn’t said jack about the President and his inability to correctly pronounce the word “nuclear”. Mr. Cosby won’t say a thing about a man who is more than willing to spend a half trillion dollars of the national treasure and four thousand American lives on the quagmire in Iraq but won’t spend a hundred dollars for his own copy of Hooked on Phonics.
Mr. Cosby and his collaborator Dr. Alvin Poussaint blame black parents for the conditions of the black community because black parents don’t guide black children. But the truth of the matter is that if any black people are to blame for the condition of the black community it is black people like Mr. Cosby who do a masterful job of distancing themselves from the black community. Mr. Cosby, and many other black who do financially well, will take their fortune and runaway from the traditional black community into the waiting arms of neighborhoods that are far less dark racially speaking. Black property values plummet while home values in other neighborhoods are enhanced. And the black middle class do less fortunate black people a disservice to focus only on personal accountability and responsibility of black people but are mum to the fact that the lower class black community is often saddled with inferior medical care, inferior legal representation, lack of government services and representation, racial profiling by police, inferior educational services and opportunities, and discriminatory employment practices.
And when black people like Mr. Cosby turn their back on the black community they get medals of Honor from Presidents that are apt to ignore an entire city of black people drowning and suffering in the aftermath of a hurricane. So yuk it up Mr. Cosby, you’ve done very well. The white mindset community will hold you up as the role model for all black people. Following your example all black people have to do is convince other black people that they have no one to blame for the subjugation for themselves and they too can be rewarded for keeping the status quo. But Mr. Cosby, it saddens me to say that I hope you choke on that medal around your neck. I used to look up to you. We had a connection. Now your connection is with people who wouldn’t even care to know Fat Albert or any other of the Cosby Kids characters you created. People who just so happen to be just like you.