A belated response to that damn Bill Cosby rant

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Someone posted Bill Cosby’s rant about the problems of the black community and tagged it “wisdom from my timeline”. I about lost my shit. I didn’t want to clog up my friend’s page, so I decided my counter-rant was better off here. 

1. “We’re not Africans…It would be like white people saying they are European-American”: White people don’t have to declare themselves European American, because White people get to know where they came from.
2. Cosby seems to be saying that we shouldn’t distinguish ourselves as African Americans, but who is he talking to here? Shaniqua, Mohammed, the descendants of those who marched for an education. He is talking to African Americans because he can see African Americans. He, like everyone else, sees race. So to ask people who have suffered, in part from the seeing of race, to stop seeing our race, and assimilate, is senseless.
3. Shaniqua? Mohammed? To deny black people the uniqueness of our names is pernicious indeed. It plays into the idea that we should assimilate (as if we could), that if we’d just embrace “normality” we’d be accepted. Anyone who would throw away Shaniqua’s job application just because of her name would reject her after an in-person interview because of her skin. Being named Sharon doesn’t help when dealing with a racist. Furthermore, Mohammed is the most common boy’s name IN THE WORLD. For Cosby to treat it like a strange appellation deserving of shame is to embrace white supremacy.
4. For a doctor of education, Cosby shows remarkably little understanding of generational patterns. If a mother can’t read, how can her child? When was the last time Cosby, or anyone spouting assimilation garbage, went into a struggling community and tried to help? When was the last time any of us went to a failing public school and said “can I tutor? can I donate books? can I teach a literacy class for the parents?”

He says we can’t blame “white people”. I say, “who ever was?” Individual racists are not the issue. I blame the structure that creates a school-to-prison pipeline and benefits from decreasing the competition for jobs. I blame the structure that benefited from redlining, sub-urbanization, and the fragmentation of school systems, and still benefits. I blame governments that won’t invest in public transit because suburbanites don’t want inner city people being able to reach their homes. I blame Bill Cosby and other black apologists who are so ashamed to be black that they can only get their pride back by shaming those of us who struggle. I blame myself for only volunteering a few times a year. But I don’t blame the people. Dr. Cosby ought to be ashamed of himself.

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5 thoughts on “A belated response to that damn Bill Cosby rant

  1. Sorry, I know it’s not my place to comment on this, but that’s never stopped me from being a big mouth before… What a poisonous thing it is to say, “Don’t give your child a ‘black’ name, because no one will hire her.” Joe and Mary Majority need to hear names like Shaniqua and Mohammed more often, not less. If an HR manager has a viscerally negative reaction to the name Shaniqua, that person needs to be educated, even if through simple exposure. Isn’t education the path to everything good for human kind?

    • Shannon

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! And I do think there’s a place for white (I think you’re white lol) people to have an opinion. What tends to anger people is when they think they’re being told how to feel, and I don’t think you went there. I agree with you about ‘black’ names and exposure. I always tell people, at one point “Wendy” was a very unusual name.

      • Yeah, I’m white as a snowflake now, but you should have seen my ancestors who left Africa thousands of years ago!

        Seriously, the chain of events in human history that led us to to where we are today on race issues could fill volumes… The first big problem was prehistoric goddess religions being replaced by male-dominated, monotheistic ones that fostered a culture of owner/owned (men owning wives, etc.). Suffice to say, the black woman is the mother of us all, and the sooner everyone comes to accept that, the sooner we can get past this artificial construct of racial purity (there’s nothing especially noble or magical about a series of genetic mutations and environmental adaptations) and of one group’s worldview being the default one.

        Look at that, I wrote a mini-manifesto in your comments section. We should jot down today’s date just in case. 😉

  2. One day we will all just be a lighter shade of brown from years of breeding between cultures. We won’t see it in our lifetime, but it will happen. Then none of this will matter anymore. I’m white, so my opinion towards racism rarely matters for black people, but I do feel that by using the term African-American, it can create a divisiveness. People should be proud of their heritage, but at some point we should just consider ourselves “Americans.” I know that history has been cruel to many ethnic groups and I don’t know how to help people get past that. Nice post, take care.

    • Shannon

      Thanks for stopping by! It is kinda hard to draw the line between pride in our background and pride in our birthplace. At times I’m singled out for my race. Sometimes it sucks, and sometimes it’s “yeah, boo, it’s Black Girl Time!” So I don’t know.

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