How Bill Cosby got it Wrong

Bill Cosby got it wrong. His many speeches regarding the plight of poor blacks in this country and their lack of personal responsibility were not only off the mark, but completely irresponsible.

Cosby failed to take into account many mitigating factors, in what became his regular rants on poor blacks in this country. For example, the last of the civil rights laws was passed in 1965, so it’s been forty years since the physical signs of government sanctioned racism have been in place. Please explain to me how in forty years we are to undo centuries of terror and government sponsored segregation, emasculation and murder?

While I don’t believe blaming the white man for your problems is the answer, preaching to a roomful of upwardly mobile blacks who are probably doing nothing to help those who are less fortunate then they are is pointless and doesn’t do anything to help the cause of those you’re complaining about. Poverty is a hard cycle to break; especially if you’re black and suffer a history where, in the not to distance past, if you dared to assert yourself as an entrepreneurial, educated black person you could find yourself hanging from a tree.

This is a country that used to burn blacks alive for fun. That not to long ago raped a man with a broom handle and two years ago sent a young black boy to prison for having sex with a white girl. This is a country where there are several states that have never sent a white man to death row for killing a black man but routinely send black ones to death row for crimes that they may not have committed, look at Illinois, and that is not even a southern state.

Now as a young black woman who was raised by a single mother, one who was welfare and who only has a GED, I could so easily be one of those non English speaking, uneducated loud dressing, black folk he was talking about. But I’m not. I’m well educated and I am quite familiar with the English language. But guess what, I’ve been denied jobs and treated horribly because I am black and for no other reason. And if Cosby or anyone else thinks that that doesn’t have an effect on those who are not blessed to have a parent who recognizes the value of an education and who adequately prepares you for the racist country in which we live, then he and everyone else who feels that way are sadly mistaken.

Cosby failed to mention the sorry state of secondary education in many of the poor neighborhoods in this country and how that impacts the lives of the poor and black in this country. Our tax based system for supporting public schools leave many in poor areas with inadequate buildings, teachers, textbooks, and curriculum. Can someone explain to me how kids get to high school without the ability to read or do simple math? That isn’t simply their fault, or their parents fault but the fault of a system that will simply pass kids along and believe them incapable of learning and not really caring whether they learn anything or not.

How about a high school system that offers classes that are useless for entrance into college? Or where kids graduate and haven’t taken a single algebra class? High school is supposed to prepare you for college, regardless of whether the teachers or administrators believe the students are capable of a college education. You can be a very responsible person but if you were never given the proper building blocks for success then that responsibility will get you nowhere.

America and apparently Bill Cosby has a short memory. And while blaming the white man is pointless, and waiting for racism to end is pointless, personal responsibility alone isn’t the answer. You can take all the personal responsibility you want but if you’re born black and poor in this country, then you have a lot of odds stacked against you and more then likely will succumb to that environment. Poverty alone is a hard cycle to break, add being black and the weight of a history that has routinely stripped you of your identity and self worth and you’ve got what can seem like, and for many people are, insurmountable odds. Forty years and a ranting, wealthy black man isn’t going to change that.

To read more articles by Tamika Johnson or to have you book, music or film reviewed visit http://www.prologuereviews.com

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