A More-Serious Cosby

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

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Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D. and Bill Cosby discuss their new book, Come On People. Source: Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press hide caption

itoggle caption Source: Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press

In a 2004 speech, Bill Cosby spoke frankly about the problems he saw in black communities.
"The lower economic and lower middle economic people are not holding their end in this deal," he said. "In the neighborhood that most of us grew up in, parenting is not going on." As a result, he continued, children are dropping out of school at an alarming rate, more and more teenage women are getting pregnant — and raising their children alone, and prisons are full to, or past, capacity. The theme of his speech, on the anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, was responsibility, which he encouraged everyone — children, parents, and grandparents, to take:

I'm talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was two? Where were you when he was twelve? Where were you when he was eighteen, and how come you don't know he had a pistol? And where is his father, and why don't you know where he is? And why doesn't the father show up to talk to this boy?

That speech reverberated through black communities across the country.

Bill Cosby and his long-time friend, Dr. Alvin Poussaint, of the Judge Baker Children's Center at Harvard Medical School, have written a new book, Come On People: On The Path from Victims to Victors. They'll join us in the first hour to take your questions. Here's what we want to hear from you: How have Bill Cosby's arguments changed the conversation about black America?

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I agree with most of the message, but I couldn't stand the lack of rachmones shown by Mr Cosby---he seemed like many rich people who don't seem to understand that you can spend your entire life following the "high road" and still end up poor and at rock-bottom.

Alone of the Western democracies, we believe that the poor _need_ mistreatment...and it's because of race.

Sent by Dog Hummerscold | 2:12 PM | 12-6-2007

This a conversation that is long overdue. I do not now nor three years ago have difficulity with the statements made by Mr. Cosby, and now along with Dr. Poussaint. I pray this conversation continues and would love to take part.

Sent by Sharon Hale-Jenkins | 2:16 PM | 12-6-2007

Prior and during the Civil Rights era African Americans were very focused on economic, social and legal improvement of their status as citizens. In a very real sense we embodied so-called middle class values. Today entertainers are espousing quite a different message. Where is the voice of leaders who can combat negative stereotypes that are heaped on blacks in this country outside of the entertainment industry, as the NAACP and Urban league are not effective.

Sent by vanderbilt hagans | 2:19 PM | 12-6-2007

Most people think that Bill Cosby is just a funny comedian (he is funny). But, I feel that Bill Cosby, Phd. Ed. is probably the single most thoughtful, intelligent person in America when it comes to youth thru late teen issues and "practical" learning. Although his remarks in 2004 were harsh, they needed to be harsh! The education of young people is too important, too difficult for teachers to do it alone.
Parents MUST be actively involved! Parenting is a lifelong commitment.

Unlike marriage, your children are in your life forever.

Sent by Harold | 2:26 PM | 12-6-2007

I would have to agree with Dog H on this one. There are many problems whith Black communities. It is not like we cant see them, we dont see them on purpose because it is easier to displace the problems. No i do not agree that there should be liquer stores on every corner. No i do not think the its the "white man" that is keeping communities down or people for that matter. I could go on and on but i dont need to really the proof is in the pudding. What are we going to do about it. Too much complaining and not enough action. Its similar to a war. If you want these so called obstacles in communities gone and more positive influences brought in, then why do you...WE fight for it harder?

Sent by LSH | 2:30 PM | 12-6-2007

May I suggest this -- there is an incredible artice in Harper's Magazine Sept. 1997 "On the Uses of Liberal Learning: A Weapon in the Hands of the Restless Poor" by Earl Shorris. He describes the Clemente Course and it is incredible. This course is being taught in Chicago and it is transformative. It supports all you argue for. And, it give a tangible example of how learning can be. I have witness this course and it is incredible to see the engagement in learning and how that learning affects the lives of those who engage this. I can send you the article if you would like.

Sent by Ned Laff | 2:31 PM | 12-6-2007

You can make parents more activist by empowering 'em with vouchers. You can't make the parents do anything under the present system -- but you can put them in the position where they actually have to make a choice. If they're staring at an actual voucher in their hands, the choice has been literally placed in their hands. Their next act is either to take that voucher to the same school that's been failing their kids, or to another school who's motivated to vie for that voucher by providing a better track record in a system of open comparison and evaluation. If federal laws can't light a fire under schools butts, let the market light it up.

The problem is that Black politics has been allied with the party of the public school unions. And guess who's been more powerful? Think about it. Which lobby is more powerful -- The Democratic party's Black constitutency, or the teacher's unions?

I just note that the latter's perpetuation of the status quo has served them well, and the former poorly.

Sent by Scott Marquardt | 2:32 PM | 12-6-2007

Please comment on the use of sub-standard English. Thank you.

Sent by Jane Herman | 2:34 PM | 12-6-2007

This is not only a Black American issue... I find that most parents today, rich, poor, black, white, etc... have busied themselves with their lives that children come in last in the list of importance. I recently has the Secretary of the PTA of which I am president resign her job because she had signed up for a class and was not going to have the time to do this job. This job required her to type up minutes of a 1 hour meeting once a month... I told her to apologize to her child, not me.

Sent by Jane | 2:35 PM | 12-6-2007

Comment & Question for Mr. Cosby

Someone once asked me who I???d want to have lunch with ??? dead or alive- and my response was Bill Cosby???.

Mr. Cosby. Many of our genius???s in this country came from the depths of poverty ??? Louis Armstrong who I point to as my hero (and I???m not African American) is one of the most important persons this country ??? if not the world has known.

If our popular music culture can sway these kids to the negative - in your opinion why aren???t these types of figures studied when trying to educate our kids these days ??? regardless of skin color.

One other comment???.

I constantly reflect back on one video clip I saw of you back in the late 80???s when you emceed the Thelonious Monk Institute show. You said to the parents to bring these kids to these shows even though they didn???t want to. One day when they grow up they???ll be able to say .. ???I was at this show???.

Sent by Daniel | 2:35 PM | 12-6-2007

I think many people take your guest's message as excusing past wrong-doings onto the African American community. But I see the message as a rational message to the targeted audience on what must be done in order to improve the current condition of the African American community. If so, is it fair to compare this to something I heard from an a journalist in Kenya (I believe it was Kenya) who said that Kenya must not rely on foreign aid because in doing so the people and infastructure of the country becomes reliant on these handouts rather than developing a means for sustaining growth and economic success from within. He said that doing so is the only way to become independent and self-sustaining as a country in this sense and in the message of Mr. Cosby and Dr. Poussaint, a self-sustaining people/community. If it does not come from within, current trends will never stop.

Sent by Tyler Suter | 2:36 PM | 12-6-2007

Within the black community, in the more succesful group, is there a concerted effort to provide a deliberate "role model" program that promotes this educated self discovery of cultural esthetics and values that cultivates the self pride that will "self perpetuate" this growth.

Sent by Al | 2:36 PM | 12-6-2007

I love Bill and Alvin's message of self-responsibility and encouragement. I think defensiveness and the culture of victimhood in the black community get in the way of hearing that this is all essentially a recipe for improvement. I'd like to hear Bill and Alvin's take on John McWhorter, another person who's views and insight I respect.

Sent by Dave P | 2:37 PM | 12-6-2007

Capitalism is about winners and losers. What makes you think that the people with the worst resources and habits have a reasonable chance of being a winner?

Sent by Jonpaul | 2:37 PM | 12-6-2007

My wife and I lived in Hawaii for a few years, recently. We loved Hawaii and being around 'people of color'. Recently, we find that we seemed to be viewed a bit different than previously. My wife believes it has to do with Rap music and DVD's being played on TV like BET. Somehow, I think that she is right about this. Is it possible that we are being judged by what people see on TV?

Sent by Emerson Smith | 2:42 PM | 12-6-2007

As an African American male who is well educated, I feel that Dr. Poussaint and Cosby did a poor job of defending their arguement. Instead they used this radio broadcast to endorse sales of their book. The best and hardest question was deflected.

No one in our community will say we don't need to improve our living situations, but Cosby's suggested remedies are a reflection of his social status. Blame will not cure an infection.

Sent by Eating Cookies in Chi | 2:47 PM | 12-6-2007

I can still remember the original speach in 2004 and my wife and I smiled in excitement. Since then I have gone back to school to get a leadership degree so I could either teach in higher ed or work as an administator in a school.

Politics aside as I feel they are too far removed from what people really do on a daily basis, what we're dealing with is quite complex. First off, lower socio-economic people be they black, white, or other, have behaviors in and of themselves. I learned this is a poverty class about 4 to 5 years ago. Most lower s-e people want to be entertained over saving money. They live day to day and paycheck to paycheck so much of what want to see in them change, they are patterned out of by their life they are living. How to solve this? Well, that depends on the individual. Ultimately all of this depends on that one thing, the individual. I just spent a few weeks learning about motivation in one of my classes and what I learned both made me happy, but it made me realize the old saying, "you can lead a horse to water, but..." Motivation comes in 2 areas with 2 subsections. First you have those people who are mastery motivated or who want to know because they value knowledge. The two kinds here are high and low or those that keep their minds open to knew knowledge etc. Low motivation can be seen as those who are good at tests but fail in class work. Why work when you can pass the test? sort of people. The others can be too far the other way and not know when to stop studying. Now the other big area is performance. High performance people in school want all the high grades, but they tend to forget the information soon after because only the grade matters to them. Now what Mr. Cosby has been seeing in much of the community are kids who are performance avoidant or won't work out of fear of failure or who wait to the last minute to study and fail. Then they say, "but look how good I did considering I only studied an hour."

Change must come from within the individual. Motivation must be intrinsic not always extrinsic. Even if parents do get involved, which they should, that is still external motivation. Kids must feel ownership in their education from the beginning. I read some disturbing articles from Educational Psychology and The Journal of Educational Psychology that shows that we lose kids in middle school and the transition to high school. This is because most schools have become institutions of performance and not schools of mastery. Kids must feel they are a part of the education or they are just being extrinsically motivated to do well, and most teens will simply give up if they don't feel intrinsic connection to their own thoughts.

Enough for now.

Sent by Peter Miller | 2:51 PM | 12-6-2007

The "high road" doesn't guarantee success, but here's what guarantees staying off rock bottom:
1)Hope. Somehow the people who see no chance of success around them need to see opportunity.
2)Support. Lots of it. Sustained.
3)Hard work.
4)Education.

My dad was white trash without hope. Lucky for him he was really smart and had a nice voice. A high school choir teacher filled out his college application and he found hope that way. He's a retired professor now. But 50 years later, my Dad still has a feeling that he's not quite a middle class guy. That "they don't want you over there." We middle class people born into families with hope have no sense of what an advantage that's given us.

Sent by Edie Loper Johns | 2:52 PM | 12-6-2007

I have been an educator for 15 years. I see the issues Mr. Cosby is addressing as more global. It is a class issue.

No matter where I have taught, I have encountered parents and students that make excuse after excuse for their lack of action for a better life. I am not African American, but I am a first generation working class person who took student loans and despite my academic abilities many of the scholarships available in my area were for ethnic minorities. I support the scholarships, but the thing I tell my students is that I would check to see about the scholarship recipients and many times there were no applicants!

When I was a graduate student working on my doctorate in education, I ran a mentoring program where we went into a housing project provided fun educational activities for the African-American community. We drove 45 minutes to be there by 9AM and provided breakfast. Every week for two years, we had to still go door to door to the kids who were signed up and get them to come out even though once they were there they did not want to leave.

All we asked the adult in the house was to get the kid out the door to the picnic area/activity room. It was really disheartening how few parents actually got the kids to us. But I have seen this in all the economically deprived areas I have worked and I think it is a learned class behavior. And I can tell you first hand being the first one to get an education in any family comes with its share of social repercussions that are not always positive.

Currently I teach at a two year college and there are many many scholarship programs at our school where students just have to have their attendance signed to keep their full scholarship. Some can make it to class and I feel like all my student loans are worth it when I can help someone reach a potential. Unfortunately, there are many more students, despite living on campus (sometimes also paid for) who can not make it to class. That is just plain sad - they are taking the money from another person who was turned down. Our school has several professionals involved in retention and I honestly have never worked anywhere else where people try so hard to keep students coming to class.

I have to say in this day and age, if a student really wants a college education and especially if a student is an ethnic minority, he or she can get at least partial funding. And without the loans I had to take.

That really is the reality of it and anyone who is not finding the help they need to get a start on an education is not looking hard enough.

I have worked with so many many student who have reached goals and are successful and the main difference between those who do and those who don't across all color lines is really the attitude, dedication, self-advocacy, and responsible commitment to a goal.

Sent by Katie | 2:54 PM | 12-6-2007

Hi,

I am glad that Dr. Cosby is addressing this situation. I, myself, is a minority, coming to this country without speaking English and had to go through so much to get to where I am. My parents had to work all day and went to school at night to learn English but they always taught us the right values and to get a good education is the way to get out of our situation to better our lives. I think this problem need to be addressed by parents, school officials and politicians need to give back the power to parents to discipline children. Parents need to discipline and teach their children value from infancy on and need to teach them to think and not to be taken or influenced by media (songs, MTV etc)and most importantly to take accountability and be responsible for own action. Nowaday, a good portion of our society no longer take pride in working hard nor take responsibility for their decision or action. They are always looking for the easy way to get things and tend to blame others for their problems. I think that our society need to have a paradigm or cultural shift toward civility, strong work ethic and know that people who succeed usually have to work hard even in the face of discrimination and most of all they are not victims (Dr. Cosby, Oprah Winfrey and others who are doing well socially and economically) I don't think this problem only affect "African-American" but all other races as well. Kids need to learn self respect and think about the consequences of their action on others and self. I have been teaching my own child about the lure of the media etc. on a daily basis and will pass on the lessons that my parents have taught me.

Sent by F Meyer | 2:57 PM | 12-6-2007

Dr. Cosby is ignorantly overlooking the bigger problem at hand. With uneducated parents, what teenager is going to appreciate the value of an education? If they do embrace education, who is going to fund it? In reality, pursuing an education that will make a difference in someone's life requires that they work, and study. Obtaining a job that will cover living expenses, and still leave time for an education, is not an opportunity available to most minorities. The approach that Dr. Cosby is taking is a direct insult to all of us who were not blessed with the same opportunities and support that he was. Dr. Cosby also discusses the importance of eating well in his book. This is another ignorant suggestion when you consider that most impoverished minorities cannot afford to grocery shop the way that he advises, and that they usually survive on fast foods, which are more affordable to the struggling family.
Dr. Cosby, get your facts straight.

Sent by Eddie Zelarayan (Pronounced zelarian) | 3:06 PM | 12-6-2007

Taking responsibility for your words, thoughts, and actions should not be a new concept. Isn't it what we are taught as children?

Sent by Kristine | 3:07 PM | 12-6-2007

A lot of what Cosby and Poussaint are saying is obviously helpful. Its shortcoming, however, is its overly simplistic analysis of what is a truly complex reality. To not take into consideration the structural institutions such as education, employment, criminal justice,finance that treat black people unfairly is to blame black people for being victimized.
That said, I would not discount Cosby's prescription altogether.

Sent by Bernard | 6:27 PM | 12-6-2007

While I felt that Cosby and Poussaint made some good points, I agree with the first commenter here that they came across like many of the upper class who simply don't understand what life is like for the poor. I am a white, middle class, educated person but for reasons of available housing, I currently live in an all-black, poverty stricken neighborhood. There are certainly some parents in my neighborhood who most definitely need to spend more time and energy on their children. However, there are others who work full time at minimum wage to support their families. Often they don't have an "aunt" (as Cosby suggested) who could take children to extra curricular activities while the parent(s) is(are) at work. I think the Cosby and Poussaint views would change were they to spend a lot of time living in a neighborhood such as the one where I live, getting to know how and why the people live the way they do.

Sent by Jane | 7:15 PM | 12-6-2007

No, I don't think so. We're taught to blame others for our screw ups. It's not as bad in America as it is in other places, but when I look at kids, they're selfish only when it comes to the good stuff. Something bad happens and "it wasn't me!" Fear and immaturity reliquish responsibility.

I (recently) learned the joy of taking responsibility for Me. The idea...just thinking about how much power I have over where I go and who I become and what I can do makes it within my world, when at one time it seemed just a dream.

I'm 26 and I know I've got a long ways to go, but if the message in the book/series or whatever is primarily that if people take responsibility for their choices/actions, they will be better for it, it's true. The prospect of being a fully autonomous adult is empowering - imagine actually achieving it. :D

Sent by Prinny | 12:53 AM | 12-7-2007

Yes, I think Dr. Cosby and Dr. Poissant have very good points in their book, the fundamentals of which, if followed, could significantly impact black Americans. But what a stinker of an interview. Neal, I have no idea why you let Dr. Cosby blather on so; you are ususally so asutue at pointing out when your interviewee doesn't answer a question or respond to a point. It is best noted by Dr. Cosby's response, after a woman called in with the most substantive, impassioned statement of the show, "And you have a good Mayor!" What?

Sent by Peter Brown | 9:44 AM | 12-7-2007

WE HAVE TO STOP BEIN OUR KIDS FRIEND AND START BEING PARENTS AGAIN, I AM 32 YEARS OLD AND I SO HARD ON MY BOYS 2, 13 CAUSE I HAVE TOO BE THE WORLD IS GOING TO BE 3X AS HARD FOR THEM WHEN THEY ARE MY AGE THE WORLD HAS CHANGE AND US BLACK PEOPLE ARE STILL FEELING SORRY FOR OURSELVES INSTEAD OF MAKING THE NEXT GENERATION STRONGER WHERE WE HAVE FAILED AND TEACH THEM OUR MISTAKES SO THEY CAN LEARN FROM THEM AND WHEN THEY BECOME OF AGE THEY CAN BRAEK THIS CYCLE OF THINKING ONE WAY.

Sent by RENARD | 10:18 AM | 12-7-2007

Mr. Zelarayan, Cosby's "facts" as you call them are straight. Do you think all of Mr. Cosby and his age group peers had educated parents? I highly doubt it considering that many higher learning institutions didn't even have any minority students (I am thinking of some Southern universities in my vicinity). But I know these uneducated parents had a sense of responsibility and they strived to instill that in their children so that when the opportunity was available their children would take it. As for the diet I find it hard to believe that if a parent can afford to spend 5 dollars on a cheeseburger meal they can't spend that 5 dollars on green vegetables, fruit and fish or some other meat. What it comes down to is that it is easier to give that child 5 dollars and have them run off to McD's then it is to cook a healthy meal and sit at a dinner table...

Sent by Mr. Bryan | 1:14 PM | 12-7-2007

Mr Cosby's comments are relevant NOT ONLY to blacks!!! But to too many "poor me"s of all races! "Poor me, My parents didn't parent me". I have purchased copies of Come On People" to present as required reading to the irresponsible WHITE bio-parents of a child I am raising.
Grow up! Stop whining, presenting excuses and otherwise relinquishing responsibility for personal choices! You MADE a human! Stand up, grow up and face the truth! YOU, I, WE are each called on the assume personal responsibility for our choices. Most especially when we make the CHOICE by our ACTIONS to create an INNOCENT new human! Stop The whining & start being an advocate for your own children. Jeepers, creepers. When did this Great Nation become a hot bed of excuses and whiners... One in twelve AMERICAN children are being raised by a GRANDPARENT! If you aren't prepared for the challenge and responsibility of parenting - then KEEP YOUR PANTS ZIPPED! Thank you Mr Cosby and Dr Poussant for standing tall on this issue. I'm for a strong America that starts with children that have participating, healthy, non-whining parents.

Sent by M. Peterson | 2:53 PM | 12-7-2007

Bill Cosby???s way of living provided spirit saving inspiration and guidance at three key times in my life: When I was a child with malnutrition living in foster care, a college student and a struggling adult. It is with great appreciation of his positive contribution to the lives of many people that I also hope we do not miss the true sources of his or others??? ability to make relatively good choices.

Ironically, in his own autobiography Mr. Cosby points to the sources of his bootstraps, even while he takes those sources somewhat for granted by not acknowledging their absolutely vital role in his ability to thrive and others??? inability to do so. He now enjoys seemingly individual ownership of bootstraps that were initially borrowed for decades from many motivated caretakers (and their caretakers) and that even now depend on those early experiences for continued sustenance. Recent developments in neuroscience are beginning to cast some light on why the sources of good choice making are so naturally taken for granted by recipients such as Mr. Cosby.

In his autobiography Mr. Cosby refers to the love and support his mother provided. The specific???s of that and other supportive relationships are what nurtured his potential (that 99.8% of humans share at birth) to deal with adversity though ???good??? choices "on his own" later. 'Bootstraps' are fashioned by a group effort and only when provided via intimate, multi-sensory, emotional experiences do individuals then acquire a specific sense of familiarity with those tools, their benefit (and thereby motivation to use them) and a sense of permission to access them. Lower socioeconomic folk turn to immediate gratification for the same reasons as everyone else - a sense of powerlessness, no intimate social-emotional experience with better options.

In one foster home we were kept in a basement without TV, in others the TV was our only connection to optional, albeit, unrealistic models of living. The Cosby show was a great and often singular source of humor and hope. Due to poor environmental conditions, of which my parents were only one factor, at age 16 I was a pack a day cigarette smoker, had used nearly every illicit drug in existence, had been pregnant twice and was waitressing full-time and living on my own.

Many years later, at 5:30 am jogging around the track at the college I would soon graduate from, U.C. Berkeley, I felt a sense of anxiety as a man in a hooded sweatshirt jogged behind me. When he, clearly decades older and yet in better shape than I was, turned his head to say hello it was none other than Mr. Cosby! For a moment, my years of experienced gained ???instinct??? of a predominantly dangerous world were dramatically supplanted by a living breathing vision of better possibilities and probabilities that for a moment seemed more real, filled with feeling, and more therefore more attainable than ever. Some students had grown up with dinnertime conversation and newspapers and communities that gave them a sense of the importance of an institution like Berkeley. I however felt the connection between Berkeley and a better life on that track in ways I could not have anticipated nor knew I had been missing. Many years later I was an adult still struggling with basics, although I had fared better than many of the children I lived with in foster care and who had worse parenting and community care than I had. I read many autobiographies, including Mr. Cosby???s. I love books and I also have read enough to know that one can die of thirst reading about water. TV, books and preaching concepts will never replace the hands on, up close and personal social understanding needed for quality support.

According to general empathy we know that folks don't wake up in world of good vs. evil and choose the latter. Neuroscience tells us now that:
1) The brain area called the amygdala is a key route through which the brain takes in information. The amygdala and associated brain systems can and do send much of that information input to action centers that BYPASS both conscious awareness and verbal areas so that behavior is NOT so simply a matter of choice nor something we can simply articulate.
2) The brain is physically still developing the physical capacity to 'choose' well into our early 20's.
We are in many ways designed to gain tools (positive or otherwise) from our environment, whatever it may be, in ways that bypass conscious choice in order to act with the assuredness and rapidity of instinct. How ironic then that the flip side of that capacity to store knowledge and skill in the background, below consciousness, makes such learned behaviors likely to be taken for granted by folks like Mr. Cosby who gained them in the most seamless way???without conscious awareness as a child when there is the greatest chance of having the time to learn intimately and nest of a caring environment.

Perhaps it will take even more or at least equal effort and understanding of what creates motivation and character rather than judgment and complaining about individuals for us as a community to support adults who were not so lucky to have been taught intimately the menus from which better choices are made. Communities raise children and we either take responsibility for supporting and raising the individual adults upon whom the children depend, or neglect both.
M

Sent by M | 4:48 PM | 12-7-2007

It's about time..I have been almost lynched by fellow Blacks by daring to say we have a responsibility to ourselves and our children to determine our destiny; it should not be determined by the White race or by their so-called mercy and permission to co-exist on this planet.

Sent by Jo Bogan | 5:19 PM | 12-7-2007

As it often occurs in these types of debates, both sides have some truth on their side. I agree that all of us have a responsibility to take care of our children, especially as men. It is unacceptable for any man to father a child without helping the mother to raise that child. The other side of the coin is that we must provide the resources and the motivation for parents to help their children. We must show our poor that we are serious about helping them. They have been convinced through generations that no matter what they do, they can not succeed. It is an illogical feeling but it is how they think based on generational experience that goes back several generations. So, the solution is not one or the other but both things must happen. We must encourage indeed demand personal responsibility yet we must provide convincing proof that we are serious about helping these citizens. Ultimately, we have an absolute obligation to help. Mr. Cosby has the dialogue started and that's a good thing.

Sent by Joe Willis | 6:05 PM | 12-7-2007

Mr Bryan; beleive it since some of these neighbourhoods dont have grocery stores in them. People need to take the bus to buy fresh food and vegetables. The stores are in the suburbs where the majority of the people with money live in and not in the areas of high crime; poverty; etc where they cant make as much money!!!

Sent by jm fay | 9:57 PM | 12-7-2007

I'm always reluctant to comment on a discussion like this because I don't know what the correct answer is to the problem. Yet, this is a discussion that must continue and expand to include the people that it affects the most. I regret the people that would benefit most from this are not listening to NPR or taking part in this forum. Does anyone have a 'effective' idea in how to expand this discussion beyond NPR listeners and to the people that are the subject of this discussion.

Sent by S. LaMont Moss | 3:01 PM | 12-8-2007

Why not look to other discriminated and repressed groups' successes, see what they did, and emulate them? Few groups suffered more than Jews during the 20th century, yet they recover by doing exactly what Cosby advocates: strong family cohesion, educational achievement, hard work. They are, against many odds, disproportionately successful, and are often hated and resented for this. I am tired of hearing that seeking self-identity (that leads to destruction) is more important than actual success.

Sent by Ron | 2:53 PM | 12-9-2007

I am not agreeing or disagreeeing with Mr Cosby. However, you have generations of black families who did not benefit from the civil rights movement. Many of the people are disadvantaged financilly but black and disadvantaged, America looks at this as being just as bad as a prison sentenced. By offering to open up, what Mr Cosby calls our dirty laundry offers no solution to these problems. I agree, there is a problem in black America. There are school districts with a drop out rate of 70 percent. Does Mr Cosby feel that this is the student's fault or the poor parent who really works two jobs who barely has enough time to sleep. We have schools that are failing our students academically and socially. The statistics become to high to say it's the student's fault. It's also not easy to concentrate on school when your hungry. Now that we have identified there is a problem, the philosophical questions is now what? Your interview with Mr. Cosby was dissappointing because he offered opinions not solutions.

Sent by Rhonda B | 9:57 AM | 12-10-2007

It's unfortunate that so many viewed what Mr. Cosby brought to the fore as "blame"...be it on the families, the systems, and/or individuals of our failing Black communities. I on the other hand heard a call to individual and collective accountability and responsibility for the results of the apathy, and acceptance of mediocrity rampant in the lifestyles of many African Americans (some poor, and some not so poor). If our children are not being educated, who's problem is it, really? Who makes up the village that it takes to raise even one child to productive citizenship? WE ALL DO! What happened to "each one, teach one", and "If I can help somebody...my living won't be in vain". It's time out for the "Blame Game"! There are far too many opportunities in the Black community for each and everyone of us (regardless of color, as there's only one, the Human Race) especially those who've commented here, to roll up our sleeves and put forth the effort to make our communities better. Starting right where we are with other like-minded people around us. How many of us know youth in our own families and neighborhoods who've dropped out of school or are in the prison system? I've heard it said "many are called...few choose." I've chosen to accept the call. What about you?

Sent by Sharon | 2:10 PM | 12-10-2007

I get fatigued with those of us lucky enough to have the resources not to have to deal with the everyday realities of the majority of us jumping on the blame-the-victim banwagon. Parents who work more than one job or long hours barely have time to take care of the basics for their children, let alone be able to keep up with every community activity, when they exist. If people in the community who are retired or not required to spend so much time trying to make enough of an income to cover the basic necessities would step up and know that ALL the children are ours, not just the ones with our individual surnames, we would be much better off. Rather than sitting from some perch saying what a parent should do that is barely keeping the household together, Why don't YOU do something, other than CRITICIZE EMPTILY.

Sent by Aa'Ishah Salaam I | 4:26 PM | 12-10-2007

Mr. Cosby's advice on how to deal with detractors is common advice given to any high school student who is being teased. Sadly, it works just as well for adults as it does for children. . .meaning it doesn't help at all.

Sent by John | 1:31 PM | 12-12-2007

I agree with the thoughts and ideas of Both Dr. Bill Cosby and Dr. Poussant. I agree that we as African Americans or Black people or whatever name (except a derogatory one) can make a change. I was raised in a poor home,but I always had clean clothes, even though they were made over from my Aunt's clothes or made from chicken feed sacks by my grandmother. My family has a history of being ready to learn, take action in the community etc., none of us were rich, until they made a way for themselves by eating a farmer's gift of a truckload of chicken and cantelope for a week in order to continue their education. (That Aunt could make a banquet out of left overs). After surviving, getting an education, and living the life of the underpriviledged, she and her husband had more clout, but they didn't wait til then, they began where they were even when poor. They became, as fast as they could - no grass growing underfoot, a physician and an English professor both with PhD's and all on a few cents here and there and a lot of hard work. When my uncle passed, he left 30K to each of 3 nephews and nieces plus a lot more to the community and others. He did not charge some for his medical care, and sat at the hospital all night with his sickest patients. It can be done if your heart is in it and if you really WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. I FEEL IT REWARDING TO HELP even just ONE PERSON AT A TIME, TO SEE SOMETHING BESIDES THE SQUALLOR THEY SEE ON A DAILY BASIS. Teach some child manners, another way of seeing the world. He or she may be my doctor, lawyer, or President some Day with the right encouragement! Each one should get off their back sides and get busy not expect other people(other races, the government, etc., to give it to them.

Sent by Isabela Treece | 2:57 PM | 12-13-2007

I had a hard time listening to this show. Cosby is so arrogant and blatantly cuts people off when they are talking. When asked what could be done about getting his book to several prisoners, he put answering the question off on Alvin Poussaint and didn't offer to provide any help. By the way, having a Ph.D does not mean that the individual is intelligent. I have a graduate degree and work around professors daily.
I agree that many people need to step up and take ownership of their lives, but I couldn't care less for Bill Cosby.

Sent by Erika | 10:29 AM | 12-18-2007