Cosby Fuels Debate About Victimhood

Hear listener feedback to the program's most recent stories, including a conversation with Dr. Alvin Pousssaint, who's co-authored a provocative new book with Bill Cosby.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now, it's time for Backtalk, where we lift the curtain on conversations happening on the TELL ME MORE blog and get a chance to find out what's on your mind. While Web producer Lee Hill takes some time off, Douglas Hopper, one of our editors and a Web junkie himself, joins me here in the studio.

Hi, Douglas. What are people talking about?

DOUGLAS HOPPER: Hey, Michel.

They're saying, "Come on, People." That's the name of a new book co-written by entertainer Bill Cosby and Dr. Alvin Poussaint. As we've been hearing, both men had been outspoken about what they see as dysfunctional behavior, holding the black community back. Poussaint was here earlier in the week, and just a few minutes ago, the guys talked about "Come on, People" in the Barbershop. And our listeners had been writing about it on our blog.

Cosby was once America's favorite TV dad on the "Cosby Show." He's taken a few hits for the way he's expressed himself at times. But Cassandra(ph) in St. Louis thinks he has a point. She's got a few words for both Cosby and Michael Eric Dyson, who's a professor at Georgetown University and who's publicly criticized Cosby.

CASSANDRA (Blogger): My husband works at an inner-city elementary school that has a majority African-American students. Mr. Cosby's picture of the life of a good number of inner-city African-American kids is a reality. I am an admirer of Mr. Dyson also, but would ask him to spend some significant time at the inner-city African-American schools and less time attacking Mr. Cosby and reality of the issue. Don't they both ultimately want what is best for the child? Don't parents play a huge role in that child's life?

MARTIN: Thanks, Cassandra. We also heard from a concerned mother who agrees that too many American families are on the wrong track. Here's Deborah(ph) in Acworth, Georgia.

DEBORAH (Caller): There are so many growing problems. And by now, our country sugarcoats most of them. The money parents spend on videogames and other expensive things that children do not need such as a cell phone. Children with cell phones, they cost like $400. Why do they need it? Who are they calling? My kids and my husband, we do this on things that's outside. Everything does not take money and we have a good time. A lot of children are overweight. It's because they sit in front of a videogame or a computer and they are playing. They don't even play double Dutch. They don't skip rope anymore. That's sad.

HOPPER: Seems like this topic stirs up a lot of opinions.

MARTIN: Including opinions from Bill Cosby himself. He called to give us his two cents. First, you, Douglas, and then he spoke to me. But you have to go to the blog if you want to know more about what he had to say.

And Douglas, here's something a little bit more fun. We brought you a commentary earlier this week from our former NPR producer Becky Vlamis on her experience moving back in with her folks in Chicago. Well, Maureen went the other direction. And it looks like Maureen might be having second thoughts.

MAUREEN (Blogger): I really enjoyed Becky's piece on moving back to Chicago. I moved to D.C. three years ago from Chicago. I'm not a native but I lived there for nearly 20 years. And although I visit regularly, I, too, am really homesick. I hope she finds her place there again soon as I hope to do one day as well, and long live $2 beers.

HOPPER: All right, Maureen, try to hang in there. I'm a transplant myself. Just give it time. And before we go, I hear we're bringing back our segment about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. It's Ordinary Oprahs.

MARTIN: That's right. To tell us more about the ordinary Oprahs in your world and to see what people are talking about on our blog, to go npr.org/tellmemore and blog it out.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: That's our program for today.

I'm Michel Martin. You've been listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News and the African-American Public Radio Consortium. Let's talk more on Monday.

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