Friday, May 28, 2004

'Sup Bill?

Bill Cosby recently spoke at an event commemorating the anniversary of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision. His remarks, at Howard University on May 17, "certainly ruffled a lot of feathers", according to Joel Brondos. Apparently Howard Universtity is reluctant to release an official transcript but, in addition to the above, you can read more at Anthony Bradley's blog and some follow up remarks from Cosby on a PBS show.

I'm a fat, middle-aged, middle class, white guy. I believe racism continues to be alive and well in America. In fact, I'm judgemental enough that when I hear someone say, "I'm not prejudiced, but . . ." I automatically assume they are far more bigoted than they realize or are willing to acknowledge.

That being said, as I was growing up I listened and memorized more than my fair share of Bill Cosby routines. I found myself adopting his speech patterns. One night my un-bigoted parents said, "You know, you slur your words just like Bill Cosby. It's hard to understand a word you're saying!" My parents loved Cosby almost as much as I did but they were concerned that if I patterned my speech after his, I wouldn't be speaking plain English." Kind of ironic that Cosby is saying something similar to kids (and their parents) today.

The heart of the message is one that we all need to hear - white, black, brown, gay, straight, white collar, blue collar, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, etc. We need to break free from that poisonous victim mentality that gives us permission to break the law, act irresponsibly or just be jerks because of some bad stuff that has happened to us in the past or to our ancestors. Let's move on and do the right things in our lives. And that includes fat, middle-aged, middle class, white guys taking responsibility for their roles (or those of their parents, grandparents, etc.) in the things that have brought us to this point.

Bottom line: Cosby is right. Dead on. And so is Anthony Bradley when he says, "Bill Cosby is so right it's ridiculous."

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