Thursday, May 05, 2005

Post on Politics

I haven't posted anything political in a while, so I'll get this off my chest. A little less than a year ago Bill Cosby accepted an award from the NAACP and took that opportunity to speak his mind regarding the situation of poor blacks in America. His point was essentially that a lot of the issues they face they bring upon themselves as a result of "lack of parenting, poor academic performance, sexual promiscuity, and criminal behavior". I for one whole heartedly agreed with him and so did a lot of other people, including more than a few conservative (black) pundits. Walter Williams wrote afterward that he had grown up in an economically depressed neighborhood in Philadelphia that today he would not feel comfortable going through.

I bring this up today, because over the last few days both liberal and conservative pundits have been discussing Michael Dyson's book Is Bill Cosby Right? In all fairness, I haven't read the book; however, my understanding is that it takes aim at Cosby's comments and seeks to refute a lot of points that he made. Also in all fairness, I don't know all of Cosby's comments verbatim... but I would love for someone to explain exactly what is wrong with the gist that Cosby was getting at. The quote I had earlier about blacks being in the situation they are in (because of "lack of parenting, poor academic performance, sexual promiscuity, and criminal behavior") is straight from Michael Dyson's book description. So what is Dyson refuting? Or what is he claiming? His interview on Air America radio seemed to indicate that maybe America is tolerant of wealthy blacks (or the "afristocracy" as he deems them) but that they are still racist against poor blacks "ghettocracy". I couldn't not believe what I heard.

The notion that racism doesn't exist isn't true. I understand that, but quite clearly black people are able to acheive success in America. So what is it about them that the "ghettocracy" can't quite seem to grasp? I'll tell you what it is. It's summed up in Bill Cosby's remarks. And that is what I don't understand about Dyson's point. You can identify that there is a plight among poor blacks... I don't think anyone would contend that that isn't a problem, but it seems truly counterproductive and myopic to say that "while America may not be racist against rich blacks, it's still racist against poor blacks".

Quite clearly Dyson was offended by Cosby's remarks. Offended enough to write a book. But what really is he offended at? The notion that your success in life is dictated by your upbringing, your education, your attitude, and your image? That doesn't sound like Noble Prize winning sociology to me.


At 2:05 PM, Blogger Ricardo Grande said...

I'm surprisingly on your side (mostly) on this one - I heard the same interview and thought Dyson sounded pretty pretentious and defensive. I will say though, that I think part of what he was talking about was Cosby's comments on black people's baby names, and things like that. That their names show their unwillingness try to fit in, stuff like that. On that issue, I'm on Dyson's side - but I think there is a lot of truth in some of what Cosby says.

At 2:17 PM, Blogger romeotheBT said...

Good for you man! Yeah he did have a pretty valid point about lumping in the name Muhammad and Shaniqua. Even if they're made up names, they're just as identifieable as seeing Colleen, or Irene, or Maureen and thinking... hey that chick is Irish or seeing Pedro or Javier and thinking this kid must be Mexican!

At 2:53 PM, Blogger Ricardo Grande said...

I liked Dyson's point about how "Oprah", "Condaleeza", and "Shaquille" aren't exactly regular names either, and they didn't hold them back. Pretty funny. He even did an impersonation of Shaq telling Cosby to quit bothering him about his name.


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