Cosby Has Harsh Words for Black Community

AP — Cosby Has Harsh Words for Black Community

Bill Cosby went off on another tirade against the black community Thursday, telling a room full of activists that black children are running around not knowing how to read or write and “going nowhere.” He also had harsh words for struggling black men, telling them: “Stop beating up your women because you can’t find a job.”

Cosby made headlines in May when he upbraided some poor blacks for their grammar and accused them of squandering opportunities the civil rights movement gave them. He shot back Thursday, saying his detractors were trying in vain to hide the black community’s “dirty laundry.” “Let me tell you something, your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2:30 every day, it’s cursing and calling each other n—— as they’re walking up and down the street,” Cosby said during an appearance at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition & Citizenship Education Fund’s annual conference. “They think they’re hip,” the entertainer said. “They can’t read; they can’t write. They’re laughing and giggling, and they’re going nowhere.”

In his remarks in May at a commemoration of the anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision, Cosby denounced some blacks’ grammar and said those who commit crimes and wind up behind bars “are not political prisoners.” “I can’t even talk the way these people talk, ‘Why you ain’t,’ ‘Where you is’ … and I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk,” Cosby said then. “And then I heard the father talk … Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth.”

Cosby elaborated Thursday on his previous comments in a talk interrupted several times by applause. He castigated some blacks, saying that they cannot simply blame whites for problems such as teen pregnancy and high school dropout rates. “For me there is a time … when we have to turn the mirror around,” he said. “Because for me it is almost analgesic to talk about what the white man is doing against us. And it keeps a person frozen in their seat, it keeps you frozen in your hole you’re sitting in.”

Cosby lamented that the racial slurs once used by those who lynched blacks are now a favorite expression of black children. And he blamed parents. “When you put on a record and that record is yelling `n—– this and n—– that’ and you’ve got your little 6-year-old, 7-year-old sitting in the back seat of the car, those children hear that,” he said.

He also condemned black men who missed out on opportunities and are now angry about their lives. “You’ve got to stop beating up your women because you can’t find a job, because you didn’t want to get an education and now you’re (earning) minimum wage,” Cosby said. “You should have thought more of yourself when you were in high school, when you had an opportunity.”

Cosby appeared Thursday with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the education fund, who defended the entertainer’s statements. “Bill is saying let’s fight the right fight, let’s level the playing field,” Jackson said. “Drunk people can’t do that. Illiterate people can’t do that.”

Cosby also said many young people are failing to honor the sacrifices made by those who struggled and died during the civil rights movement. “Dogs, water hoses that tear the bark off trees, Emmett Till,” he said, naming the black youth who was tortured and murdered in Mississippi in 1955, allegedly for whistling at a white woman. “And you’re going to tell me you’re going to drop out of school? You’re going to tell me you’re going to steal from a store?”

Cosby also said he wasn’t concerned that some whites took his comments and turned them “against our people.” “Let them talk,” he said.

Interesting. That Jackson seemed to echo his thoughts is quite surprising.

UPDATE: A lot more on the speech at CNSNews — Bill Cosby to Blacks: Stop Blaming ‘The White Man’

Cosby bristled at any notion that he should tone down his views so they will not be taken out of context and exploited. “I couldn’t care less about what white people think about me at this time,” he said to loud applause. “Let them talk! What are they saying that is different from what their grandfather said? What are they doing or trying to do us that their grandfathers didn’t try to do to us? But what is different is what we are doing to ourselves,” Cosby said.


On Thursday, Cosby urged blacks to take personal responsibility for their lives, and he hinted that social welfare programs may be having unintended consequences for African-Americans. “The housing project was set up for you to move in, move up, and move out,” he said. Being poor had a different meaning to older generations, according to Cosby. “If you go up to people — when you ask them and you say, ‘Were you poor?’ they would say, ‘No, no, our parents were broke, but we were not poor.’ There was a spirit in that house,” he explained.


Cosby stressed the importance of education and proper parenting. “The more you invest in that child, the more you are not going to let some CD tell your child how to curse and how to say the word ‘nigger.’ This is an accepted word. You are so hip with ‘nigger,’ but you can’t even spell it,” an impassioned Cosby lamented
Whatever happened to ‘Black is beautiful?’ Well, it was replaced with ‘nigger please,'” he said to laughter.

Cosby’s message on Thursday was part common sense and part shock value.
“Education, ladies and gentleman, respect the elderly, respect for yourselves, respect for others,” Cosby said. “These young girls have no business having sex!” he emphasized as the crowd clapped approvingly. “We got too many young girls who don’t know how to parent, turning themselves into parents. Ladies and gentlemen, our little eight-year-old boys, nine-year-old boys, having erections and only acting out that which they see and hear on some CD. They’re acting that out and they don’t know the damage that they are doing when they rape some little girl nine years old and what they have done to her whole life. It’s time to stop!” an animated Cosby said.

Cosby also took on the pop culture of music, movies and television. “When you put on a record, and that record is yelling ‘nigger this’ and ‘nigger that’ and cursing all over the thing and you got your little six year old and seven year old sitting in the back seat of the car — those children hear that. And I am telling you when you put the CD on and then you get up and dance to it — What are you saying to your children?” he asked. “Eight-year-old, nine-year-old boys have no business teaming up to rape a nine-year or ten-year-old girl. And if it’s in that TV set, don’t bring into your home, if it’s on your record player, don’t bring it in your home,” he said. “We are going to call each other names of ugliness. Comedians coming on TV [saying] ‘I am so ugly, you are ugly, yuck, yuck.’ That’s all minstrel show stuff. I am tired of it,” he continued. “I am talking about profanity. I am talking about cursing at each other like it’s something hip, like it’s something that’s right. I am talking about people calling each other a name that there are still — if DNA goes to the Mississippi River– you are gong to find African blood in there, dead from being called nigger and then hacking them,” he added.

Powerful stuff. One hopes someone is listening. Certainly, he’s earned the right to be taken seriously on the issue.

Michelle Malkin approves as well.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    Well, let’s hope this starts some honest discussion about the ills of the community.

  2. Jeff Begley says:

    Cosby has a lot of guts to come out swinging like this. While I agree with what he is saying and admire his tenacity, as a white man I feel that supporting him may be misconstrued as using his words against his community. It’s unfortunate that I would be viewed that way instead of as a concerned American wishing to help my fellow Americans.

    I am utterly shocked that Jesse Jackson is supporting Cosby. I would like to think the man is turning over a new leaf, but who can say from one month to the next what Jackson really believes, if anything at all.

    This is one to watch with interest.

  3. dcthrowback says:

    Jacksonian opportunism is just as attuned as Clintonian opportunism. Maybe he senses an opening….either way, it’s the right way to move forward on this.

    The only that bothers me is that Cosby still harbors views that white America is not supportive when in fact, many of us are very supportive and just don’t know how to reach out for fear of being turned away or, even worse, saying the wrong thing.

  4. McGehee says:

    Jackson goes where the money and media attention are, making him a lagging indicator of the community’s direction.

    So I’m actually optimistic about this.

  5. JW says:

    Doesn’t anyone remember that Cosby lost his only son to a robbery–someone killed Ennis Cosby for his car several years ago. I think he may be channelling some of his anger over his son’s death into these tirades against young black men that aren’t taking advantage of the opportunities afforded them.

  6. Bostonian says:

    Cosby rocks!