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A Strong Commitment To Being Black

Cosby and Jackson

In the United States black people with a strong, positive commitment to the black community are seen as an anathema. Black people who are constantly pro black community are ridiculed and picked apart by the mainstream. While their relevance as a positive force to the black community can be questionable at times, Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton are regularly caricatured for their pro black commitment. In Houston, Texas, Quasi X is doing his best to make a reputation for having the ability to bring national attention to matters impacting the black community. And when he succeeds the backlash from the dominating culture is swift and uniform. Many white people may not know who they’re going to vote for in the next presidential election, but they know they hate a pro black nigger when they see one.

Even the late venerable defense attorney Johnnie Cochrane caught the ire of the dominant community. His attack on the status quo of white privilege was unforgivable. Used to be a high profile black man facing prosecution for the murder of his wife was a slam dunk for the prosecution. Now here comes Mr. Cochrane with his uppity self and his legalese mumbo jumbo, nursery rhyming catch phrases and now white people got to work at railroading a black man into the penal system. Mr. Cochrane helped make O.J. Simpson the villain he is today. Mr. Simpson is one of the most hated men in the country not because people believe he was a man who just so happened to have killed his wife. Mr. Simpson is hated by mainstream America because he is a black man who is widely believed to have killed his white wife and gotten away with it.

Most black people who exist in a high profile fashion in the public’s eye profess strong commitments to the black community but then work hard to support the status quo that prevents the black community from ever achieving some level of true self determination. Bill Cosby says that black people need to become entrepreneurs and better parents. His book Come On People, written collaboratively with Dr. Alvin Poussaint, is supposed to be a manifesto for guiding the black community out of its doldrums. Black people can turn the black community around by engaging our children in conversations and putting wholesome food on the table.

Following these simple steps people in the black community will suddenly have employment and educational opportunities that will allow us to earn the money to continue putting that wholesome food on the table. Talking to our children about our day will suddenly give our children and the rest of our family members the healthcare that they need. And can anybody tell me how engaging black children in conversation is going to prepare the black community for doing business as entrepreneurs. But every black person should spend the twenty bucks or so plus shipping and handling to buy this book from Amazon because lord knows that there are no bookstores in the black community and the local library isn’t going to have enough copies for everybody.

It’s okay to for Mr. Cosby and Mr. Poussaint to make a buck off the assumption that financially poor black parents are detached from their black children. It helps perpetuate the stereotype that the black community is solely responsible for black people’s subjugation. And while it is true that Mr. Cosby provides scholarships for some in the black and white community, his benevolence only helps black people assimilate to the dominating corporate world. Where are the grants and other forms of financial assistance for the people in the black community to become the black entrepreneurs that Mr. Cosby says are so desperately needed? Mr. Cosby carries considerable influence but chooses instead to play his support for the black community close to his chest with suggestion that black people need to talk to their children. The establishment supports this because black people talking to black children distracts people from the status quo of the white privilege that will continue unabated and without serious threat.

Conversely, many people with a strong, commitment to keeping the status quo of white privilege and black subjugation, a formula rooted in propaganda labeled as traditional family values, are worshipped by the dominant culture as if they were modern day prophets of the almighty. Anyone who calls for the abolishment of any affirmative action program that might impede white privilege is a hero of American principles of personal responsibility, self determination, and hard work. These are the same people that would say black people should be more like Oprah Winfrey or Kobe Bryant or Tiger Woods or some other black person that has distanced themselves from the common black community and has made the conscious decision to become racially generic among the well to dos.

I have yet to meet a white person that would take offense at being called white and correct the adjective with a more accurate color reference like pink, off white, creamy peach, translucent pale, or something else more accurate but distances the white person from their white community. Even white people who have a bone to pick with other white people don’t have a problem calling themselves white. Nobody ever walks up to a white person and says something stupid like when I look at you I don’t see a white person.

But on the flipside, the number of people of obvious African descent that refuses to refer to themselves as black grows each and every day. Black people call themselves brown, tanned, chocolate, mocha, cocoa, shiny gold, or something else that has less to do with being proudly affiliated with the black community. While all of these colors may indeed be used to more accurately describe a skin tone of a black person, we should not forget that we are talking about black people. We come in a variety of skin colors that range from being able to pass for white all the way to skin tones so deeply colored that black is truly accurate. Instead of going coo-coo for being called cocoa more black people need to be proud to stand up and say that they are indeed part of the black community. It’s not a slogan, but a state of mind that could help to put pride back in the black community. It is a state of mind that could help influence others to make that strong, unmistakable commitment to being black.

Friday, February 22, 2008 Posted by | African Americans, Bill Cosby, Black Community, Black People, Come On People, Life, Racism, Thoughts, White Privilege | 4 Comments

Coaching The Black Community

Football Practice

Back in high school I started playing football in my junior year. I was awful at it. I had never played organized football before and had trouble learning the plays, having someone constantly yelling at me, and fitting in with the entire culture around high school football. And our coach did his best to remind me, and anybody else within earshot, that I sucked. “Hey Peacemaker, you run worse than my grandma’s tractor, and it hasn’t run in ten years now! Hey Peacemaker, you couldn’t catch a cold if there was an epidemic! Good grief you’re awful! Hey Peacemaker, you couldn’t block sunlight if you were made out of concrete! Did I say sunlight? I meant a flashlight…on dead batteries!” And that was what I heard before I ever stepped on the field for my first practice.

But the coach was tough on everyone. His criticism was meant to inspire us to work harder and be better than we ever thought we could be. And no matter how hard his words were, as his players, we knew without a doubt that he wanted us to win the game that weekend. As hard as he was we didn’t have any reservations about where his allegiance was. Coach may have been hard but coach was squarely on our side.

The last thing coach would do would be to go in front of the team sitting on the bench on the other side of the field and joke with them about how awful his players were. That kind of move wouldn’t have gone down well. If we lost, we would lose as a team with a coach. If we won, we would win as a team with a coach. If there was a perception that the other team was better, it was coach’s job to put his foot up our collective ass to make sure we knew we were the better players. If we were to look up and see our coach laughing it up with the players on the other side of the field more than likely we would be less inclined to work as hard as we could as a team. It would be demoralizing. It would be a vicious blow to our egos.

Now after such an ego crushing move coach could come back to our side of the field and say something like he was just telling the truth and he was just trying to make sure we got our act together. But it doesn’t take a genius to know that as a coach that’s not how you motivate your players. You motivate your team with a sense of camaraderie and a sense of unity. Coach going to the other side and saying all the stuff that we hated to hear during practice to people who do not have a vested interest in our success but in our failure would send the message to us that you are on your own and that I am not with you. It is plain to see how such a move would demoralize us. The implication would be that the people across the field are the ones coach wants to support. We would get the impression that coach would want us to lose!

I don’t know too many coaches that would manage their team under such dubious methods of so called motivation. Coaches are reflected in their team and the team is a reflection of their coach. There is no them and us. In fact, one of the most beloved coaches in the world of sports was Woody Hayes. When Mr. Hayes saw his quarterback throw an interception and saw his team about to loose, Mr. Hayes felt so strongly about what was happening and connected to his team he came off the sidelines and physically attacked the player that made the interception in the middle of the field in the middle of a play in the middle of a game. The last thing Mr. Hayes would do is yuk it up one of those players and start telling the competition how much his team suck. Mr. Hayes was ejected out of the game and lost his job. But through it all his players stood behind him because they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was behind them. No matter what he said about them during practice.

But for some reason, well known black celebrities and role models get in front of people in the dominant community and all they want to do is rip into the black community. Black celebrities don’t have a problem saying black people aren’t doing their fair share to stop the subjugation of the black community. These people don’t have a problem expressing their contempt for black people who cannot seem to get their act together for some reason or another. And to add insult to injury, these black celebrities make absolutely no effort to hide their affiliation with the dominant community that actually benefits from doing nothing to change the status quo. How is this helpful? As a black man struggling to make ends meet how would this inspire me to do better? What kind of connection am I supposed to have to this black celebrity that obviously feels more connected to people who are more likely to watch me fail rather than see me succeed?

Even more fascinating is the fact that some black people see absolutely nothing wrong with the black community being ripped by black celebrities who spend the majority of their time serving and protecting the dominant culture’s interest. Brothers and sisters of the black community have the opinion that the black celebrities are simply saying the truth. The black community needs to get its act together and that’s all the black celebrity is saying.

But I really must beg to differ. The black community may not be doing enough to stop the subjugation from the dominant culture. But it is difficult for poor blacks to do it alone when well to do blacks take their resources away from inspiring poor blacks and instead use their resources to ridicule and demean the black community. If this was an American soldier talking in front of insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan the military would try the soldier for aiding and abetting the enemy.

A Palestinian would never get in front of Israelis, humiliate the Palestinian community, get paid by the Israelis, and then be held up by other Palestinians as a model of behavior to be emulated. A Jewish person would never stand in front of Nazi Germans, say everything that is wrong with the Jewish community, get paid by the Nazis, and then go back to the loving embrace of the Jewish people. An American hostage who joyfully and willingly criticizes America in front of the Iranians captors would never be welcomed back to America without some kind of trial for treason. Only the black community welcomes the indignation of having our own being rewarded by our oppressors for constantly pointing the finger at us. It may appear to be a fine line between inspiration and ridicule for some people. However it really is quite simple for people who truly wish to understand.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black History, Come On People, Life, Racism, Thoughts | 2 Comments

Yuk It Up Mr. Cosby

Bill Cosby and George Bush

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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 Posted by | African Americans, Bill Cosby, Black Community, Black History, Black Women, Come On People, Life, Racism, Thoughts | 17 Comments

Come On Bill

Come On Bill

Bill Cosby has just released a new book. I know this not just because I watched Mr. Cosby and his long time collaborator Alvin Poussaint talk about their new book on Meet the Press with Tim Russert, I know this not just because I watched Misters Cosby and Poussaint on Larry King Live promoting their new book and trying to explain some of the social ills that prompted its authorship. I know that Come On People is one of the latest new books for sale on because Christina Stewart’s letter to a couple of people named Chris and Shaver appeared on my list of comments awaiting approval earlier this week. I have no earthly idea who Ms. Stewart is.  But her letter says this book “combines messages of personal responsibility with practical solutions.” She goes on to say “Come On People is for all those who are tired of being used, neglected and undefended folks who wish to see changes in their governments, their neighborhoods, on their streets and within the walls of their living spaces.”

It would’ve been nice if Ms. Stewart or whoever left her message on my blog’s electronic doorstep would have made a relevant comment about my blog. But it seems she or whoever was in a bit of a rush to promote Come On People. The comment came with three links to some excerpts from the book as a sample of the prolific and profound writing that would inspire changes in governments, neighborhoods, streets, and inside the living spaces. I took a bite and read what was made available. To see the excerpts for yourself click the following links: Excerpt 1, Excerpt 2, and Excerpt 3.

If these excerpts are indication the writing for this book is very simplistic and unimaginative. The book could’ve been titled How To Raise Black Kids for Black Dummies. This book makes such propositions as black parents need to serve good food to their children. Black parents need to engage their children in conversation. Black parents need to reward the good behavior of their children. Black parents need to make sure that the children’s punishment fits the crime. If the samples are any indication black parents are demonized, criticized, slandered, and vilified in this book. What evidence do the authors offer to support the supposition that black parents are not talking to their children or that black parents aren’t doing their best to provide good food? And for the black parents that aren’t feeding and raising their children properly how exactly does this book provide the tools necessary for these parents to learn these habits?

Bill Cosby is somewhat hypocritical in his implications and insinuations. Mr. Cosby has made a fortune pushing some of the white corporate icons that now permeate the black community. For years Mr. Cosby has told us to have a Coke and a smile. For years Mr. Cosby has pushed Jell-O pudding pops down our children’s throats. I know I spent a number of Saturdays sitting in front of the television watching Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids and I know for a fact that not all the characters on the program spoke the standard English dialect that his new book now emphasizes. Not only did Mr. Cosby help market the sugar laden and/or chemically enhanced brew of Coca Cola. Mr. Cosby became one of the major owners of the Coca Cola Bottling Company of New York back in 1993. He’s not just the spokesperson, he’s the owner.

There’s little doubt that Mr. Cosby made, and is making, a ton of money with his endorsements and business investments. And now that he has his, Mr. Cosby, along with his partner Mr. Poussaint, want to reverse his position on nutrition with an excerpt telling the black community to make better choices for their children’s sake. The book itself is allegedly targeting the lower class of black people. Yet, Come On People isn’t likely to become part of the library of the lower class household with its nearly twenty dollar retail price tag. More likely than not this book is intended reading for the type of people who believe that people in the black community already have more than what they need to pull themselves out of their predicament by their own means.

Come On People offers an overly simplistic solution to the black community’s problem. The message that black parents simply need to do better fails to address the societal forces that have been created and that have evolved to make conditions in the black community what they are today. Black unemployment and black low employment are real factors that cannot be dismissed with a black parent asking their child how was their day. Black people who have worked hard to obtain their degrees in their chosen field of study have to settle for unskilled jobs because the opportunity to put their knowledge to work simply doesn’t come their way. For black people who do manage to improve their economic conditions, abandoning the traditional black community is standard operating procedure. Too many of our black celebrities and wildly successfully business people leave the traditionally black community for more ethically diverse pastures. Black people like Tiger Woods and Venus and Serena Williams got plenty of attention from their parents. But now that they have theirs these black celebrities are so removed from their racial peers that they are now racial eunuchs. Why would this happen if these black people’s parents did everything by the book.

It would be nice if all black parents had to do is feed their children better, talk to their children better, and do other basic things better. But the reality is that the black community’s problems are much more complex. If anything, Come On People could help some black people improve their relationship with their children. But this book will fall extremely short in any other measure of the black community. The overwhelming and overriding message in this book is that black parents need to focus on their relationship with their children. I think a black parent can always do more to improve their relationship with their child. However, that is nowhere close to being the end all and be all to correcting the social issues that effect the black community. As far as offering practical solutions to those of us who are tired of being used, neglected and undefended who wish to see changes in our governments and neighborhoods, this book isn’t even close to addressing any of the real socially charged racial issues.

Monday, October 22, 2007 Posted by | African Americans, Bill Cosby, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Come On People, Justice, Life, News, Philosophy, Thoughts | 3 Comments