Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bill Cosby: An expert who gets it!

Bill Cosby was on Meet the Press this morning along with Dr. Alvin Poussaint talking about their book, Come on People: On the Path from Victims to Victors. Because Cosby is a celebrity who speaks out on social issues, he is treated by the media as an expert. But there is something different about Cosby; he gets it! You can go here to read excerpts from the book.

I understand why Cosby and Poussaint directed their message to the black community, but man, could a lot of people of all races in America use listening to this same kind of message. For example, does anyone doubt that there are white children out there who would prefer to see themselves as victims rather than pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Here is a short excerpt that could certainly go for all of us:

In 1950, we (the authors) still feared our parents and respected them. We know that for a fact because we were both in our early teens that year and were both testing our limits. We and the others in our generation weren’t saints. We’ll be the first to admit that. We were filled with piss and vinegar like many teenage boys—white, black, and otherwise. If we saw something we wanted and didn’t have any money—and trust us, few of us ever had money—we thought about taking it, sure. But something called “parenting,” something that had wormed its way into our heads from the time we were still in the womb, said to us, If you get caught stealing it, you’re going to embarrass your mother. The voice didn’t say, You’re going to get your butt kicked. We knew that and expected that from experience. No, that inner voice said, You’re going to embarrass your mother. You’re going to embarrass your family. As we became older and grew more interested in girls, our hormones raged just as boys’ hormones rage today. The Internet may be new. Cell phones may be new. But sex, we don’t need to tell you, has been around since Adam and Eve. So has shame. We knew that if one of us got a girl pregnant, not only would she have to go visit that famous “aunt in South Carolina,” but young Romeo would have to go too, not to South Carolina maybe, but somewhere. It would be too embarrassing for Romeo’s family for him to just sit around in the neighborhood with a fat Cheshire cat smile on his face. And there was something else we understood: that girl likely had a daddy in the home. And he’d be prepared to wipe that grin off Romeo’s face permanently. This was what parenting was about. It wasn’t always pretty, but it could be pretty effective. Parenting works best when both a mother and a father participate.

Some mothers can do it on their own, but they need help. A house without a father is a challenge. A neighborhood without fathers is a catastrophe, and that’s just about what we have today. Can we fix this? Can we change it? We don’t have a choice. We have to take our neighborhoods back. We have to go in there and do it ourselves. We saw what happened in New Orleans when people waited for the government to help. “Governments” are things. Governments don’t care. People care, and no people care like parents do—well, except maybe grandparents and other caregivers, and thank God for them.

I only saw the interview this morning so I haven't read the book, but if I'm interpreting things correctly, Cosby and Poussaint are saying that kids (students) must take responsibility for their own actions, and even more than that, parents must take responsibility for parenting. I'm not trying to sluff off the responsibility that schools have to do a better job on anybody else, but I can't help but wonder: What if parents took the responsibility that Cosby urges them to take? What if one kid made fun of another for studying, and had his words shoved right down his throat? As Herman's Hermits once said, "What a wonderful world it would be!"


Blogger Peter Thies said...


10/14/2007 6:13 PM  
Blogger Matthew K. Tabor said...

"Because Cosby is a celebrity who speaks out on social issues, he is treated by the media as an expert."

The media also treats him as an expert because he earned a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts.

10/14/2007 8:05 PM  
Blogger the anonymous teacher said...

"...parents must take responsibility for parenting..."?? What a concept!!

Hi, Dennis!!

10/18/2007 4:06 AM  
Blogger NYC Educator said...

They offered to send me this book, but asked for a promise I would review it and link to their site. I declined, figuring what if I hate it or something?

I mean, that would mean I hate jello and Coca Cola, and all those kids in the TV show.

Well, I'm glad you like it anyway.

10/18/2007 2:35 PM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Hi yourself, AT. It's good to see that you're back in business again. As The Righteous Brothers would say, I've lost that bloggin' feeling, so I've been struggling lately.

NYC, I have to admit that I haven't read the book, yet, and I doubt that I'll get to it for a while, but I sure liked the interview.

10/18/2007 3:24 PM  

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