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.