Thank You, Bill Cosby,
For Saying the Right Thing at the Right Time
by Lisa Fritsch
There are many reasons to thank
First, there is his success
as the first black comedian to tap into the creative and educational
aspect of animation. His Fat Albert television show (soon to
be a live-action movie), where he belted out "hey, hey,
hey," conjures up fond memories of a larger-than-life cartoon
about life lessons, educational esteem and camaraderie among
He also deserves thanks for
pioneering America's first intellectual look into the lives of
an upwardly mobile and traditional black family. Arguably the
most popular sit-com ever, The Cosby Show was a breakthrough
in American television. It proved audiences of all races would
watch African-Americans as Americans. The Huxtables weren't the
black American dream, but instead represented everyone's American
dream. Every Thursday night, Bill Cosby confirmed that successful
black families were not myths, but reality.
Now he's done something even
more relevant and profound. I thank Bill Cosby for his sage and
eloquent - albeit blunt -statements over this past summer publicly
chastising ill-fated parenting choices in the black community.
Like his dissenters from the Cosby Show era, Cosby is criticized
for speaking the truth and presenting an alternate - and realistic
- point of view. I thank him for having the courage to say what
is needed at precisely the right time and being the right person
to do it.
Beginning at the NAACP's commemorating
the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education in May, Cosby
began speaking out about the true perils of the black community
- the lack of responsibility and misuse of educational opportunities.
Publicly criticizing how our children speak and act, how parents
spend more money on fad clothing than education and how they
"manage... by cell phone," Cosby hit the nail on the
He has continued speaking out,
most recently at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's
annual conference. At that first event, however, he received
a direct rebuttal from the head of the NAACP. Others criticized
him for airing the "dirty laundry" of the black community.
Cosby said it best, responding: "Your dirty laundry gets
out of school at 2:30 every day. It's cursing and calling each
other 'n------' as they're walking up and down the street. They
think their hip... they can't read, they can't write, they're
laughing and giggling, and they're going nowhere."
Cosby should be commended for
airing his dead-on sentiments. For too long, the black community
has hidden behind the cloak of sister and brotherhood, protecting
bad judgment and outright stupidity that we can no longer afford
to ignore. It is imperative those who can speak out against the
self-inflicted malaise that's destroying our community do so.
Our so-called leaders still defer our problems to external factors
rather than the natural consequences of our behavior, allowing
us to slowly deteriorate as a culture.
To those who believe our wrongs
should remain hidden, know that we have been exposed long ago
- the world has just been too "politically correct"
to hold us accountable. For those who think white people shouldn't
be allowed to agree with Cosby and judge us by his words, know
that they suffer some of the same problems as we do. Cosby recently
pointed out, "whites say to me that 'the same thing is happening
in our house.'"
Bill Cosby deserves a special
place in all of our hearts. He is from the generation that fought
for every ounce of acceptance and educational opportunity that
we so abundantly have today. He, more than any other person,
has the right and the obligation to speak frankly to us in the
ways we are headed toward demise. For his courage in doing so,
I thank him.
Lisa Fritsch is a member of the National Advisory Council of
the African-American leadership network Project 21. Comments
may be sent to Project21@nationalcenter.org.
Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research.
Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries
reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those
of Project 21.
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