Robert In Defense of Bill Cosby

Great essay from Robert on thug life, anti-intellectual racism and black leadership in the United States:

I committed the transgression of wearing a tweed jacket, black sweater, black slacks and glasses, a no-no for the “thug barbers” there because to be an appropriate African American by their standards was to wear saggy pants, sport jerseys and doo-rag caps. My second transgression was to bring a book, James Baldwin’s Notes of A Native Son. It didn’t matter that Baldwin was one of the greatest prophets on race relations in the history of the 20th century. The fact that I brought a book to read deeply offended their sensibilities, because to read, in their mind, was acting white.

Reaction has been thoughtful and vociferous on Metafilter:

When my parents tell me about JFK instituting the Peace Corps, the announced space missions and the clear objective of putting a man on the moon, and just the general feeling of this age of a great push to improve the world, and explore it, I get sort of angered and depressed that there seems to no longer be that large-scale push for dramatic progress. Without the inspiration to achieve and to continue to progress, as a society, we fall back on instinctual hoarding and self-preservation. Just look at the title of that recent 50 Cent movie: Get Rich of Die Trying. It’s not just a black ethos. It’s becoming America’s ethos.


In the late 1980s, at the height of The Cosby Show’s fame BTW (which may or may not be coincidence), there was a huge movement in the black community – no only in the US, but certainly in Canada at least, as well – to “uplift the race”. It was a boom time for consciousness, and it was considered cool to be conscious (or a herb, I guess) – that is: a) to have a racial consciousness; and b) to employ that consciousness to advance the community as a whole. Public Enemy was on top, and 50 Cent would’ve been laughed out of the place had he shown up at the time.






3 responses to “Robert In Defense of Bill Cosby”

  1. JB Avatar

    Interesting article, I’ve stuck this blog in my bookmarks. I get so annoyed seeing this kind of mindless conform-to-our-little-clique, do-as-we-do, and I-am-entitled-to-whatever-I-want mentality.

    Had a lovely first-hand experience of it a few days ago with my friend’s boyfriend’s idiotic mates (these guys are a MAJOR source of problems for my friends relationship). The way these people have such a problem if anyone is or does anything different to their set, boring, fixed ways drives me nuts. Plus the way they believe they are entitled to whatever they like and get in such a spoiled strop if they have to work to get it. I’m sure the gangsta culture is growing here too. Sigh.

  2. John Lindsay Avatar

    “Anti-intellectual attitudes in black culture”

    That title is incorrect, for the “thug barbers” are only a sub-section of Black culture.
    At the Black barbershop where I get my hair cut, the discussions usually involve social issues.

    John L.

  3. Andy Avatar

    Thanks – I wasn’t satisfied with that wording and knew it was clumsy. I didn’t mean to imply anti-intellectual attititudes ‘all over’ but in this particular instance for this particular writer.

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