Friday, November 02, 2007

Somebody Had To Say It

Did you see Bill Cosby on the Oprah show the other day? The show's title was Bill Cosby Calls Out Dirty Laundry. Cosby's been taking heat from people for years over a speech he gave in 2004. He was criticized for "airing the dirty laundry" of the Black community, namely:

According to Bill, the desperate situation of many minorities has resulted in some of these shocking statistics:

* At least a third of all homeless men are African-American.
* African-Americans make up 12 percent of the general population, but they account for almost half of the prison population.
* According to the U.S. Justice Department, 28 percent of black men born today will go to prison in their lifetimes.
* Black youth are six times more likely to die of homicide than white youth and seven times more likely to commit a homicide.
* Homicide is the leading cause of death among African-American males ages 15 to 29.

Frustrated by these numbers, Bill gave an unexpected, uncensored speech in 2004: "In the neighborhood that most of us grew up in, parenting is not going on," he said. "They're buying things for the kid—$500 sneakers. For what? They won't buy or spend $250 on Hooked on Phonics.

"It's not what they're doing to us. It's what we're not doing. … Brown vs. the Board of Education—these people who marched and were hit in the face with rocks and punched in the face to get an education, and we've got these knuckleheads walking around who don't want to learn English. I know you all know it, but I just want to get you as angry as you ought to be," he said.

Cosby recognizes that the people who call his comments "controversial" are upset because he spoke of these things publicly, instead of getting upset about the "dirty laundry" itself and doing something about it.

In a similar vein, Mychal Massie's commentary for Word Net Daily, "Beat whitey, get a reward," states:

Whites are not the enemy of blacks – the Jacksons and Sharptons, et al., along with a government that sanctions divisions based upon race, are the enemies of blacks. I will be soundly criticized for saying it, but until blacks start taking personal responsibility for themselves, their actions, their families and their neighborhoods, the last thing they should do is blame white people for anything – anything that is, save for being weak and unwilling to stand up for their own personal dignity.

Remember when Elvis Presley sang "In the Ghetto (The Vicious Circle)?" That song - well no, not the song, but the well meaning, but misguided sentiments behind it, were part of the problem.

As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin'
A poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto
And his mama cries
'cause if there's one thing that she don't need
it's another hungry mouth to feed
In the ghetto

[Because it's not her fault that she didn't know about birth control, and in fact had no idea that free birth control pills were available to her (back then, anyway)]

People, don't you understand
the child needs a helping hand
or he'll grow to be an angry young man some day
Take a look at you and me,
are we too blind to see,
do we simply turn our heads
and look the other way

[The "helping hand" was a handout in those days, and the handout rewarded single-parent households with lots of children, giving rise to the culture of entitlement]

Well the world turns
and a hungry little boy with a runny nose
plays in the street as the cold wind blows
In the ghetto

And his hunger burns
so he starts to roam the streets at night
and he learns how to steal
and he learns how to fight
In the ghetto

[Maybe if he'd had positive male role models, instead of drug dealers (not their fault) who fathered children indiscriminately (having never heard of birth control, either) and who never gave a thought to paying child support because that would take away the handouts to the single mothers, he might not have roamed the streets at night with criminals]

Then one night in desperation
a young man breaks away
He buys a gun, steals a car,
tries to run, but he don't get far
And his mama cries

[The gun (as well as cigarettes and booze) was bought with currency that somehow can't be used for groceries]

As a crowd gathers 'round an angry young man
face down on the street with a gun in his hand
In the ghetto

As her young man dies,
on a cold and gray Chicago mornin',
another little baby child is born
In the ghetto

[and so it goes]

I have no doubt that ghettos, or "projects" are vermin infested, crime ridden, filthy places to live. I also have no doubt that neither I nor any other whitey I know of went over there and urinated on the walls, left trash and rotting food in the hallways to attract rats and roaches, ripped out the copper tubing, stuffed the toilets with rags, punched holes in the walls, took doors off the hinges, stole the air conditioners, or broke out the windows, nor did we do all these things again every time repairs were made, until one day, no repairs were made at all, except by court order.

Somebody had to say it. I'm just sayin.

As Cosby pointed out, these problems don't pertain to all Blacks. There are many Blacks who embrace the concept of personal responsibility. It's encouraging that they're talking about it, even in the face of criticism.

The longer dirty laundry sits, the more it stinks. It's about time someone aired it. Cleaning it is the next step. It will take a lot of effort and courage to do it. The civil rights workers who labored so long and marched so bravely for dignity and the right to work and live the American dream know all about what it will take to make it happen.