Passing out a dose of discipline to a largely black audience in St. Louis last night, comedian Bill Cosby criticized the labeling of minorities as “disadvantaged,” called Christians to walk their talk, and encouraged fathers to return home to take responsibility for their families.
Cosby has gained attention in recent months for his fearlessness in expressing criticism of the African-American community.
In an appearance last year to commemorate the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, he pointed fingers at “lower-economic people,” shoddy parenting, sexual promiscuity, poor English like “Why you ain’t?” and “Where you is?” and names “like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap.”
Though hard-hitting, his words were praised by many in the black community and were seen as a much-needed wake-up call.
Cosby spoke last night at Harris-Stowe State College, as part of a series called “Conversations with Cosby,” reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
According to the report, the entertainer slammed the use of words like “at-risk” and “disadvantaged,” which he said are attached to young blacks solely because of the color of their skin. It’s up to parents and other elders in the community to erase those words, he said.
“There’s no dis here,” Cosby said while touching his cheek. “There’s advantage.”
Cosby told the audience to hold their leaders accountable, told parents to get sober and pick up their kids from grandparents who are raising them, and told teachers to have tough talks with the parents of their students.
The paper reported Cosby also told fathers to return to rejoin their families, even if they didn’t have money, because their love and presence are needed more than a paycheck.
The comedian also took aim at Christians living in public-housing projects:
“Christians in the projects. All of us have Jesus in the projects. Drug dealers in the projects, prostitutes in the projects, all kinds of people in the projects. The Christians just look at them and keep walking. … Jesus Christ walked among the people, and this is what you have to do.”
Next, Cosby urged parents to sacrifice for their children and to get past their own despair for the sake of their kids.
“Look at your children,” he said. “You have no right to give that to them. The old world used to be that you would give your life so they could go forward.”
Sylvester Brown Jr. is a Post-Dispatch columnist who helped arrange Cosby’s visit.
“Like any good family member, I took offense,” Brown said. “I was very defensive. I defended my people.”
But Brown said he now admires Cosby’s courage and can acknowledge that there is some truth in what the entertainer says.
“It hurts to be told these things,” he said. “(But) I am convinced his criticism comes from his perpetual love for black people.”