is bill cosby right (or has the black middle class lost its mind?)-michael eric dyson

first of all, thank you for the lack of apostrophe abuse in this title. (sigh) my only question is why there is no mention of cosby’s work (or morgan freeman’s or rita moreno’s for that matter) with the electric company-but especially in this context, it seems like quite the oversight, no? bigup to saul williams for tweeting the “verb” video a little while back. that was a day maker.

“Equally intriguing is the leap of faith one must make in granting Cosby revered status as a racial spokesman and critic. He has famously demurred in his duties as a racial representative. He has flatly refused over the years to deal with blackness and color in his comedy. Cosby was defensive, even defiant, in his views, as prickly a racial avoider as one might imagine for a man who traded so brilliantly on dimensions of black culture in his comedy. While Cosby took full advantage of the civil rights struggle, he resolutely denied it a seat at his artistic table. Thus it’s hard to swallow Cosby’s flailing away at youth for neglecting their history, and overlooking the gains paid for by the blood of their ancestors, when he reneged on its service when it beckoned at his door. It is ironic that Cosby has finally answered the call to racial leadership forty years after it might have made a constructive difference. But it is downright tragic that he should use his perch to lob rhetorical bombs at the poor.” (3)

“I think a more accurate analogy is that Cosby is like the person who sounds good to himself singing in the shower but, when he hits the stage, he’s lost all the conditions that made his song soar: the claustrophobic acoustics of a confined space; the protection of privacy; the guarantee of a positive, if subjective, assessment of one’s skill; and the lack of a critical audience to offer feedback.” (224)


4 thoughts on “is bill cosby right (or has the black middle class lost its mind?)-michael eric dyson

  1. “Cosby’s insistence, in his infamous May 2004 speech and on National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation in July 2004, that black youth are anti-intellectual because they chide high achievement as “acting white,” repeats what is the academic equivalent of an urban legend. Claiming that black youth are anti-intellectual is pretending somehow that America is not consumed with anti-intellectualism. Cosby’s claim has the dubious virtue of being both true and uninformative. It is not that black anti-intellectualism doesn’t exist, shouldn’t be admitted, or doesn’t reveal itself in ways that need to be vigorously opposed. But it is highly misleading to tag black communities as any more anti-intellectual than the mainstream.” (84)

    “Of course, Cosby’s powerful critique of the two-tiered justice system, one for the wealthy, the other for the poor, offers another jarring contrast between his past thought and his present practice. For instance, while condemning the black pound cake stealer, Cosby stood by Martha Stewart’s side, and showed up in court to support her, even though she fit Cosby’s description of a person with huge resources who buys justice and whose crime, perhaps, has a more harmful effect than the man robbing a candy store or stealing a piece of pound cake.” (90-1)

    Read more:

  2. “Our audience study revealed that the overwhelming majority of white TV viewers felt racism was a sin of the past; The Cosby Show, accordingly, represented a new “freedom of opportunity” apparently enjoyed by black people. If Cliff and Clair can make it, in other words, then so can all blacks. The positive images of blacks promoted by shows like Cosby have, therefore, distinctly negative consequences by creating a conservative and comfortable climate of opinion that allows white America to ignore widespread racial inequality.” (184-5)

    Read more:

    wait. bill and camille financed the empirical research? the plot thickens, the tsk tsking (on my part of MED continues…):

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s