Thursday, July 08, 2004

A Guy Who Gets It
CNN.com - Cosby foots college bills for top grads
Bill Cosby understands what's wrong with America, and seems to care enough to do his part to fix it.
You may be aware of the two speeches he gave recently criticizing the state of the African American community, and blaming that group for most of its own problems. He has effectively demanded that the community pony-up and straighten itself out, instead of looking to blame both the past and outside groups. (A selection of these comments along with analysis and a conversation with Cosby himself can be found at National Public Radio.)

The fact of the matter is, he's right, and he's wrong. There is a lot of history that put blacks at the bottom of the pile to begin with, in this country and around the world. There are also a lot of groups that still keep them down, as well as a lot of continuing circumstances that accentuate the problem. But he's also got a really good point.

There are plenty of poor minorities that show surprisingly high rates of success coming out of the same neighborhoods as the 50% of black men who drop out of high school, and the 2/3 who are under some form of supervision by law enforcement. He's right that many (particularly urban) African Americans speak a language that bears little resemblance to the English that most people speak. He's right that parents aren't teaching their kids to value education the way they should be. He's right that kids are wearing designer shirts and playing video games in houses where there often isn't enough to eat.

And he's right that these are circumstances that cannot (and should not) be fixed through government. It's a refreshing change from the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the world, and I hope people listen to him. Listen to the NPR bit and let me know what you think.

But the point of the article above is that Cosby isn't merely spouting off--he has the will to step up and change things. He's found two kids that came out of this environment and succeeded on their own, and he's putting them through college. Let's hope that more Americans follow his lead; let's hope that people with means feel the duty to help people who've earned the same by circumventing the circumstances that would otherwise preclude success. Right on, Bill.

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