Jackson Invites Cosby
I had never seen the Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson cry in public. And
> seldom upstaged. Until, Bill Cosby came to town.
> Last week Jackson invited Cosby to the annual Rainbow/PUSH conference
> a conversation about controversial remarks the entertainer offered May
> at an NAACP dinner in Washington,D.C.That's when America's Jell-O Man
> things up by arguing that African Americans were betraying the legacy
> of civil rights victories.
> "The lower economic people," he said, "are not holding up their end
> in this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things
> kids -- $500 sneakers for what? And won't spend $200 for "Hooked on
> Thursday morning, Cosby showed no signs of repenting as he strode
> the stage at the Sheraton Hotel ballroom before a standing-room-only
> Sporting a natty gold sports coat and dark glasses, he proceeded to
> a laundry list of black America's self-imposed ills. The iconic actor
> comedian kidded that he couldn't compete with the oratory of the
> but he preached circles around Jackson in their nearly hour-long
> conversation, delivering brutally frank one-liners and the toughest
> of love. The enemy, he argues, is us:
> "There is a time, ladies and gentlemen, when we have to turn the
> mirror around." Cosby acknowledged he wasn't critiquing all
> blacks-just "the 50 percent of African Americans in the lower economic
> neighborhood who drop out of school," and the alarming proportions of
> black men in prison and black teenage mothers. The mostly black crowd
> seconded him with choruses
> To critics who pose, it's unproductive to air our dirty laundry in
> public, he responds, "Your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2:30
> day. It's cursing on the way home, on the bus, train, in the candy
> They are cursing and grabbing each other and going nowhere. And, the
> bag is very, very thin because there's nothing in it."
> "Don't worry about the white man," he adds. "I could care less about
> white people think about me . . . let 'em talk. What are they saying
> is different from what their grandfathers said and did to us? What is
> different is what we are doing to ourselves."
> For those who say Cosby is just an elitist who's "got his" but
> doesn't understand the plight of the black poor, he reminds us that,
> to turn that mirror around. It's not just the poor-everybody's
> Cosby and Jackson lamented that in the 50th year of Brown vs. Board
> of Education, our failings betray our legacy. Jackson dabbed away
> tears as
> recalled the financial struggles at Fisk University, a historically
> college and Jackson's Alma mater.
> When Cosby was done, the 1,000 people in the room all jumped to their
> in ovation. Long after Cosby had departed, I could not find a
> the crowd. But in the hotel corridor I encountered a vintage poster
> for sale that said volumes. The poster, which advertised the Million
> was "discounted" to $5 Remember the Million Man March?
> In 1995 Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan exhorted "a million
> sober, disciplined, committed, dedicated, inspired black men to meet
> in Washington on a day of atonement." In 2004, perhaps all that' s
> left of that call is a $5 poster. We have shed tears too many times,
> at too many watershed moments before. While the hopes they inspired
> have fallen by
> wayside. Not this time. Cosby's plea to parents: "Before you get to
> the point where you say 'I can't do nothing with them'-do something
> Teach our children to speak English.
> When the teacher calls, show up at the school.
> When the idiot box starts spewing profane rap videos, turn it off.
> Refrain from cursing around the kids.
> Teach our boys that women should be cherished, not raped and
> Tell them that education is a prize we won with blood and tears, not
> a dishonor.
> Stop making excuses for the agents and abettors of black-on-black
> It costs us nothing to do these things. But if we don't, it will cost
> infinitely more tears.
> We all send thousands of jokes through e-mail without a second
> thought, but when it comes to sending messages regarding life choices,
> twice about sharing. The crude, vulgar, and sometimes the obscene pass
> freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of decency is too
> often suppressed in school and the workplace.