Bill Cosby on Meet the Press

Bill Cosby has caught hell in recent years for his controversial speeches about the hip-hop, poor black people, and the state of Black folks in American in general.

Today, Tim Russert’s Meet the Press hosted Cosby and his longtime collaborator Alvin Poussaint, MD., to talk about their new book, Come On People–a treatise on the state of African-Americans and what they think needs to shift. He doesn’t seem to be saying anythign that isn’t knew or innovative, but another hand-wringing book about the lack of Black fathers in the lives of their children, Black women have “made it” while men suffer in prison, that AIDS is the result of our “behaviors,” etc. I guess I have to say I am glad that there is at least a conversation happening in the Black community about what we need to be doing poltiically and socially, but I hate that the conversation never seems to evolve past the “we need the strong black man to take his rightful place” type of foolishness.

I guess it’s too easy to make fun of him as some doddering old fogey–I think the sentiment of his fears is sincere. I share his basic concerns. I do think something has to be done to improve the conditions of young Black men. But I don’t think that the people who currently hold the mic on the discussion, have much in the way of useful answers.

MSNBC.com has posted the entire first chapter of the book, and you can read it here.

6 thoughts on “Bill Cosby on Meet the Press

  1. Hey you. I was tempted not to post this on my main girl’s blog, but that MTP show has really stuck with me today:

    Hearing of the Cosby/Poussaint feature on Meet the Press, I was a little wary of how he might tell it like it is. That being said I tuned in anyways. What I heard was an impassioned man calling out power structures as well as telling black ppl, come on now, let’s make it happen. One particular theme that stuck with me was his belief that despite the adversity black ppl are born into, black parents should “stay on there kids” until they succeed. I can’t see how I could ever argue against those basic points. In my own life, my parents were often too busy with their troubled marriage and immenient divorce to “stay on me,” but luckily through our middle class background, I was able to slide through as an average kid, not excelling, and not failing either. This is not to say that I am not successful today, but it is to make the point that constant affirmation – this “staying on your kids” – with love, not physical, emotional abuse – has the potential to produce generations of black kids from poor, working class, middle class backgrounds who excel inspite of racial adversity.

    I’ve read another blog that seemed to critique Cosby’s focus on hip hop saying that he demonized rap culture and generally labeled it as a cause for black ppl’s problems (http://harriss.wordpress.com/). Off the cuff, I don’t believe that Cosby said anything unfair. And for the blogger to suggest culture only reflects society (i.e. hip hop reflects the Black American experience) and not influences society as well, I think is not telling the whole truth of the matter.

    Now, all this being said, I want to go back to this whole “stay on ’em” theme and apply it to Black LBGT folks. I can’t tell you how many of my fellow ppl I have met, espcially after having moved to NYC who have goals, dreams but just aren’t going after them. It drives me crazy, mostly because it’s a fear I have of myself as well. Let me actually backtrack (and I apologize for such a long comment on your blog kenyon!), I know many black ppl who are driven and are making shit happen in their lives, mr. k. farrow being exhibit a. 9 times out of 10 however these are blk ppl who are making more money or who have equal education (shut up!) as I do. But out of the other set of black folks (many of whom who have crossed my life path have been black gay men) who are impassioned with dreams of work, education, but are stuck in a rut, 9 times out of 10 these blk folks, in my own unscientific recollection of it all, have generally made less money than me or have less education (you know what!?). This is all to say that how do black LGBTs, working class, poor, get this love? This affirmation? This “stay on ’em” attitude that C & P speak about? When folks are kicked out, when gay black folks even still living with their parents dont trust their parents for guidance… what about in these situations?

    I’m sure in the next week or so some academics, activists will come out with critiques and affirmations of Cosby and Pouissant’s book and appearance on Meet The Press. And I think a lot of ppl will call me out on my focus on the individual rather than larger social structures, which I think is valid and something that at the end of the day I probably won’t disagree with. But now my wariness is more with the never-ending back and forth of it all than with listening to someone who is trying to end the stalemate.

  2. I’d just like to point out that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. What Cos’ is sayin is undisputable, but to make it happen for young black boys, thousands of unhealthy patterns of behavior have to be challenged. Three examples:

    1st day baby comes home from hospital: The first day at home sets some key parenting patterns. New babies are cute, cuddly, irresistable, and it’s easy for the women folk to “cluster” and crowd out the men (not just w/ black folk I’ve noticed). Men got to stand their ground, and say, “don’t be hordin’ the babyin'”. Changing diapers, bathing, dressing, snuggling, all require a man’s touch. We’ll let go of the breast feeding, OK?

    Around the time a boy is 13: A good way to develop his nurturing side is to get him a babysitting gig. I remember the full weight of this responsibility on my young shoulders, for a tiny newborn my first night on the job at 13 or 14, and didn’t appreciate it at the time, but it had a powerful impact on my psyche. Action item: Get young boys comfy being around babies in a role of caregiver before they have a chance to rebel against it. Women….your mission is to entrust young boys with this role, make sure they’re trained, and then stand aside and let them nurture!

    Young, single & pregnant? Get an abortion. There’s no shame in preserving your ability to someday have a good marriage and then raise kids within its protective cacoon. In fact, it’s your responsibility to put off childbearing until there is a committed man. 80% of married moms have had abortions, and deserve our eternal respect (yeah, you conservatives, too) for keeping a kinship system intact that gives men meaningful roles in childrearing. Have the guts to call an unintended pregnancy what is is…a mistake. Put it behind you as quick as possible, and get on with the rest of your life. Don’t ever back down from your right to preserve the 2-parent family…not even the Pope can win that one.

  3. I share Mr. Cosby’s concerns because even though they affect African Americans more harshly than my own race, these are problems that affect our entire civilizations. The problems of blacks are the problems of America.

    I do feel Mr. Cosby isn’t looking deeply enough in to these problems, though. He can say black men need to be stronger, but why are they not? We need to look at the social structures that make it more difficult for these men to succeed. There are structures in place today that were established by the dominant social class centuries ago that do more harm for African American men than Mr. Cosby is willing to acknowledge.

  4. Along the same lines Pierre was saying, small things tend to add up. For instance, the way a parent uses language in front of their kid is important. You can’t just blurt out what you’re feeling at the time. Consider the difference between: “If you don’t do your homework , you’re never gonna amount to nothin'”. vs. “If you can just get started on your homework by 4pm, I see you finishing by 6:30, and then having free time to do what you want. If you can do that, I see you being successful in school. I see you less stressed and happier. How about that, willing to try it?”

    What a difference in the expectation conveyed!
    One ends with “you’re never gonna amount to nothin'”, the other with “I see you being successful….I see you happier”. Now you’re the kid – which voice would you rather hear?

    Parenting is very difficult, and requires grown-up communication skills. Immature kids having babies at 16, 17? Where are they going to learn these communication skills overnight?
    They’re not. They’re going to just blurt out what they feel at the moment without thinking.
    They are doomed to stunt their child’s potential thru sheer ignorance.
    Better to stay in school, use reliable birth control, and get some experience in a job. That’s where I learned to think before flapping my tongue.

    Also, I think pre-parenting classes should be mandatory. If teens had to sit in a room, and compare themselves with 30-something black couples in terms of readiness, they’d start to realize they’re out of their league. They’d start to sort out where the disadvantage comes from.

  5. I agree with what Mr Cosby is saying and I took the extra step on following up with the story on Msnbc website “meet the press.” They have the first chapter on the website and there are abundant of subjects which he elaborates that are very true, I am from the Carribeans and I have been called white from my African American peers because they have told me “I speak proper”, and I fear that some of my sisters and brothers are losing insight of the quality of education. So if I’ve heard this, I can imagine other African Americans who have been belittled because they study and take pride in their education and for this I feel sorry for them. I know from first hand that it’s important to have both parents in the home because they instill self respect, family values, security and successful achievement of the childs future.

    As a black community we need to step up our actions and these are just a few things in mind that may help…

    1. We need to change things early on with our children. Don’t put TVs in the kids bedrooms. (Make it an occssional family gathering in the living room.. that is watching tv)

    2. Instead of purchasing video games, buy books to improve our childrens vocabulary, reading skills and comprehension skills. Believe me, they will appreciate this in the long run. Note: you can use the video games (reward system) as a way to encourage the kids to read

    3. Stop buying all those name brand clothes for kids, they(kids) grow so fast and the clothes usually last about a year. Most kids don’t care about who their wearing cause they’ll get it dirty any way.

    4. Don’t allow your kids to serve in the military, until our generation gets a full understanding of the contracts they are signing up for (usually they tell you 4, but there is a clause for an additional 4). People save your money for education, You can start out with $20 a paycheck. Do it for 18 years of your childs life and the money will grow eventually. I recomend Ing Savings- 4.25%.

    5. If your kids are having a hard time in school, put them in an afterschool program that will help our children understand topics they can’t easily grasp in school. Don’t allow these schools to classify your children mentally slow (in their eyes they see that Black parents are not or haven’t taken the quality time to put their children’s education first.

    These are just a couple of things that I think we should do to step up our intelligence. I’m glad that Bill Cosby spoke the truth.

    Peace to all.

  6. For more than three years, authors Bill Cosby and Alvin F. Poussaint have been listening to the voices at community call-outs in cities across the country. Their latest book, Come On People, due out October 9 in bookstores nationwide, combines messages of personal responsibility with practical solutions, and retells the incredible stories shared at these call-outs.

    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.

    At http://www.BillCosby.com you will find a forum called “The Cos,” that is designed for community members to discuss issues beyond those addressed in the book, as well as a place for people to come together and offer solutions. It’s time to have the courage to believe you can do better by asking for help and not being afraid to move forward.

    No matter your economic status, no matter your age, no matter your race, no matter your gender, and no matter your religion, we are all allies in changing our future for the better.

    You can find downloadable PDF’s of excerpts from Come On People at the following links:

    http://treasures.billcosby.com/pdf/ComeonPeople-pg77-88.pdf
    http://treasures.billcosby.com/pdf/ComeonPeople-pg124-132.pdf
    http://treasures.billcosby.com/pdf/ComeonPeople-pg168-174.pdf

    We are also willing to send review copies out to the first 100 bloggers who respond to TeamCosby@gmail.com—all we ask is that you publish a review and link back to BillCosby.com.

    Please share this book and website with members of your blog community—the more people who hear Drs. Cosby and Poussaint’s message, the better!

    Best,
    Christina Stewart
    Respond2 Communications

    Upcoming Bill Cosby appearances:

    October 18: Good Morning America
    October 18: Larry King Live

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