Bill Cosby, the comedian, the grouch, the chief celebrity critic of the African-American plight, was recently in the news for alleged comments he made to Russell Simmons. They were rude comments and we wouldn’t expect any less from Mr. Huxtable. Cosby has long expressed his dismay for Black celebrity rappers and actors who promote the hood lifestyle. Recently, he told The Star Press just exactly how he felt about Simmons.
“People like Russell Simmons and that three-named fool telling people that this behavior is all right and neither one of them were brought up that way. They may have transgressed, and they were taught by people who were brought up with pride in themselves. … They were not raised that way and they know it, yet they’re gonna put it out that this is good.”
What Mr. Cosby wants is a world where people are more concerned about the welfare of others rather than their own fame. Unfortunately, those that have achieved a level of stardom and popularity are pre-dispositioned to do what’s cool, to put popularity above all else. So really, even if Simmons does know better, he got to where he is by prioritizing his path to wealth and fame. In other words, he’s the typical American dreamer.
It’s understandable why Cosby is frustrated. We have all these people who can help – not just by doing behind-the-scenes philanthropic projects- but by taking a public stand on things like African-American education, family building and financial re-investment in Black communities – who don’t. As much as we talk about the lack of wealth in the black community, it’s important to recognize that we have enough African-Americans in power who can positively impact the direction of our communities if they so wished. It’s not enough that these celebrities achieve wealth and fame, thereby becoming models of business success. They need to engage real dialogue. Why is no-one talking about Afro-centric education or supporting education models that have proven successful amongst Black youth?
All that said, can Cosby blame these celebrities for not taking a stand, when they were reared in a general culture that supports the pursuit of individual interests? Cosby’s frustration has more to do with the culture of American enterprise rather than the Black vanguard. It just so happens that the shortcomings of our leadership is so much more visible because of the severe shortcomings in our community.