Bill Cosby, never one to mince his words has had some strong things to say about the American black community in recent years. So does he have a point or is the over-the-hill comedian just desperate to keep the spotlight on himself? Here’s an example that’s doing the rounds of the Internet:
‘They’re standing on the corner and they can’t speak English.
I can’t even talk the way these people talk:
Why you ain’t,
Where you is,
What he drive,
Where he stay,
Where he work,
Who you be…
And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk.
And then I heard the father talk.
Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth
In fact you will never get any kind of job making a decent living.
People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an Education, and now we’ve got these knuckleheads walking around.
The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal.
These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids.
$500 sneakers for what?
And they won’t spend $200 for Hooked on Phonics.
I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit.
Where were you when he was 2?
Where were you when he was 12?
Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn’t know that he had a pistol?
And where is the father? Or who is his father?
People putting their clothes on backward:
Isn’t that a sign of something gone wrong?
People with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack, isn’t that a sign of something?
Isn’t it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up and got all type of needles [piercing] going through her body?
What part of Africa did this come from??
We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans; they don’t know a thing about Africa …..
I say this all of the time. It would be like white people saying they are European-American. That is totally stupid.
I was born here, and so were my parents and grand parents and, very likely my great grandparents. I don’t have any connection to Africa, no more than white Americans have to Germany , Scotland , England , Ireland , or the Netherlands . The same applies to 99 percent of all the black Americans as regards to Africa . So stop, already! ! !
With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap ……… And all of them are in jail.
Brown or black versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person’s problem.
We have got to take the neighborhood back.
People used to be ashamed. Today a woman has eight children with eight different ‘husbands’ — or men or whatever you call them now.
We have millionaire football players who cannot read.
We have million-dollar basketball players who can’t write two paragraphs. We, as black folks have to do a better job.
Someone working at Wal-Mart with seven kids, you are hurting us.
We have to start holding each other to a higher standard..
We cannot blame the white people any longer.’
There is so much in that little speech that it’s hard to know where to begin.
Language is a medium of communication. I may not be able to understand Chicago street-speak but if you live in The Projects, that may be the lingua franca of your community, so of course you are going to speak it. Personally, I don’t think a different English usage there matters but when you go to school or start looking for a job, you join a bigger community and it does. Go anywhere in the world and those who want to move on in their lives modify their speech to gain acceptance and to be better understood. Often tertiary education exerts its own force and by the time you emerge from the University or College sausage factory, the rough edges of speech have been rounded off. I know this from personal experience.
Parenting: We all do better growing up in a loving home and what kids need is stability but in the last forty years the shape of the family has changed. Typically a family is not two parents and two children any more. High divorce rates, non-married parents splitting up and in many countries [like Namibia and South Africa] HIV have seen to that. A family may be mom, Grandma, uncle and a few kids but that doesn’t matter so long as they are loved. Here, Bill gets it wrong because the world will never again be like the 1940’s and 50’s when he grew up.
Identity: Many black people in the UK identify themselves as Black British or Chinese British or Turkish British or Afro Caribbean British. What is wrong with that? My father was a Greek from Cyprus and my mother English, so I could call myself Anglo-Cypriot but I tend to identify my ethnicity to others as European. African-American is a fair enough term if you want a label to identify yourself with but have you ever met a black person from America in an African country? If you did it would be obvious to you that they American first and foremost and African by the way. No matter how many times he visited the Gambia, Alex Haley would never be able to capture the essence of Kunta Kinte.
The cultural environment where you grow up does affect how you think, how you perceive the world and your moral vision. Bill Cosby is wrong to suggest that black Americans forget where they came from [Africa, in chains] but right to suggest that people [both black and white] should use the opportunity that education provides to get out of poverty and economic hardship.
Blame the White Man? Well that’s the big one isn’t it. America has come a long way since the Civil Rights demonstrations of the 1950’s and 60’s. An African-American is President and there are black Judges, lawyers, publishers and businesspeople across the States so can all the ills of poverty, criminality, degradation be loaded on the shoulders of ol’ whitey? No, not entirely. There is still relative oppression and lack of opportunity in black communities as there is in some Hispanic and poor white communities.
So does Bill Cosby have a point? Yes and no. The older generation have always complained about the youth of today. But he is right to suggest that if you want to be part of society and enjoy its benefits, you have to give as well as take.