Bill Cosby is at it again
Cross-posted on the Brave New Films Blog.
Bill Cosby was on Meet the Press yesterday talking up his new book, Come On People, co-written with Dr. Alvin Poussaint. The show, surprisingly, spent the entire hour with the two men, jumping between issues addressed in the book. They talked about a fair amount, but the analysis given during this interview was as thin as the paper the text was printed on.
Like the last time Bill Cosby spoke out, I fear that his framing of challenges facing Black people in this country will add fuel to the conservative fire. The reason that this happens is two-fold:
- People assume that liberalism is the rejection of personal responsibility.
- People assume that conservatism is the dependence upon personal responsibility.
Both of these assumptions are not only false, but are indicative of what political stances have been reduced to: an either or, mutually exclusive, zero-sum game. The truth is that selective-responsibility is what defines conservatism as it exists today. Further, truth is that liberalism as it exists today actually expands the notion of responsibility to the individual, the organization, the corporation, and the government. With this thinking, everyone and everything has responsibility.
How does this connect to Cosby? His message before was one of taking responsibility for your own actions and situations and behaviors. This is a message that most people brains will agree with. This time around, he has softened up a bit by acknowledging systemic racism as a part of the equation, which I think will temper critics such as Michael Eric Dyson.
What Cosby must do in order to get full-fledged support is take a multi-pronged approach to infusing responsibility into Black communities and into the country as a whole. While telling young me to stop saying the N-word, he should also tell banks to lend money fairly to minorities. While destroying the ideology that motivates Black kids to be told they are "acting white" by studying, he should also speak out against school re-segregation.
If it's sustainable change he wants, he'll get it by addressing the outer effects and root causes simultaneously. People are dynamic. We need to get out of the mindset that says that we can only do one thing at at time.
I’ll be reviewing this book very soon, where I’ll go into more detail on points where I agree/disagree with Cosby.
One Love. One II.