Remember when Bill Cosby was criticized by a lot of black folks for “The Cosby Show”? Holy Huxtable, it was an unreal depiction of black life. As if any sitcom was a depiction of anything real. Cosby’s original sin was that he wasn’t Jimmy Walker.
Now a generation later, he is hearing it in some quarters about comments he made recently in Washington in the context of a performance commemorating Brown vs. Board of Education. Cosby had the temerity to note that subsequent black generations hadn’t done nearly enough with the Brown vs. Board kick start. Too many blacks were still mired in lower-economic cul-de-sacs, and they had to assume a lot of the blame, he intimated.
He referenced “knuckleheads” who couldn’t be bothered to speak Standard English — and gave slangy, ebonic examples. He referred to warped priorities that valued “$500 sneakers” over modestly priced “Hooked On Phonics” kits. And so on.
Among those not amused: Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert.
Cosby’s current sin apparently wasn’t so much the lampooning, black self-criticism — but going public with it. Some things are better off being kept in-house. Unfortunately in America that only leads to a house further divided over race.
We do ourselves no favor as a nation if, in effect, the only serious racial conversation we can have is one reiterating the insidious legacy of racism and lamenting its resultant, ongoing victimization.