Traditional Black Conservatism

Pretty tense article from The Atlantic regarding Bill Cosby.


From Birmingham to Cleveland and Baltimore, at churches and colleges, Cosby has been telling thousands of black Americans that racism in America is omnipresent but that it can’t be an excuse to stop striving. As Cosby sees it, the antidote to racism is not rallies, protests, or pleas, but strong families and communities. Instead of focusing on some abstract notion of equality, he argues, blacks need to cleanse their culture, embrace personal responsibility, and reclaim the traditions that fortified them in the past. Driving Cosby’s tough talk about values and responsibility is a vision starkly different from Martin Luther King’s gauzy, all-inclusive dream: it’s an America of competing powers, and a black America that is no longer content to be the weakest of the lot.

In May 2004, just one day before Cosby’s Pound Cake speech, TheNew York Times visited Louisville, Kentucky, once ground zero in the fight to integrate schools. But TheTimes found that sides had switched, and that black parents were more interested in educational progress than in racial parity. “Integration? What was it good for?” one parent asked. “They were just setting up our babies to fail.”

In response to these perceived failures, many black activists have turned their efforts inward. Geoffrey Canada’s ambitious Harlem Children’s Zone project pushes black students to change their study habits and improve their home life. In cities like Baltimore and New York, community groups are focusing on turning black men into active fathers. In Philadelphia last October, thousands of black men packed the Liacouras Center, pledging to patrol their neighborhoods and help combat the rising murder rate. When Cosby came to St. Paul Church in Detroit, one local judge got up and urged Cosby and other black celebrities to donate more money to advance the cause. “I didn’t fly out here to write a check,” Cosby retorted. “I’m not writing a check in Houston, Detroit, or Philadelphia. Leave these athletes alone. All you know is Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jackson. Forget about a check …

 

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