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:

  1. People assume that liberalism is the rejection of personal responsibility.
  2. 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.


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

2 responses to “Bill Cosby is at it again”

  1. Duane says :

    My major impetus with Bill Cosby is that he simply has the money to cover up the SAME drama in his household that he had continuously criticized black folks nationwide for. He had a junkie son and got caught in the middle of the million dollar civil suit. Nonetheless he remains a passionate person, and at his best is a bitter old man. Thus I take his sporadic outbursts of anger with a grain of Lawrys.

  2. Look In the Mirror says :

    I see people continue to take exception with the opinions of celebrities. But, why?

    I understand the disgust some black folks harbor for Dr. Cosby, however, have you looked in the mirror lately? Is your home presentable to the public?

    Dr. Cosby and Dr. Poussaint are stating what really does need to be addressed: “wake up black people.” “The calvary is not coming to fix things for you.” “You have to fix things in your own homes to be capable of producing the correcting elements of societal inadequacies.”

    Mr. Cosby has done some distasteful things in is private life (I don’t defend his actions), however, the work he’s completed with Dr. Poussaint should be given the PROPER reflection, like any other book written on this topic. How much closer to hell is Dr. Cosby compared to you? This is not a time to reflect on Mr. Cosby. This is a time to address the issues, of which Mr. Cosby is attacking with cognitive purpose.

    Humility (humbleness) no longer has currency these days. No one wants to look in the mirror before condemning their fellow citizen. I believe all of us, including Duane who commented and especially Mr. Cosby, have got to purchase the correct moral compass, follow its direction, and then speak out against the ills of our society. Otherwise, learn to accept that an imperfect human being such as yourself will have an opinion, as Mr Cosby does.

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