Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"These People" (aka Knuckleheads) Part I

Culture & Society ---

"They wear their hats on backwards."
Recently, some words attributed to Mr. Bill Cosby have been circulating on Facebook.  They are a patchwork of snippets from a speech he gave in 2004 commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.  Clearly, when he gave that speech Mr. Cosby spoke with sincerity and deep passion, and one should not minimize the importance of his observations or ignore the vantage point or perspective from which he made those observations.  There were those who wholeheartedly embraced his observations, those who saw his intent as good, and those (obviously less given to careful thought) who upbraided him as being an Uncle Tom.  For my part, he presented a very compelling perspective, but it was a limited perspective at best; he did not present the full picture. 

The subject of Mr. Cosby's remonstrance are "These People", an unfortunate nomenclature to say the least, especially since it is a phrase often used to demonize or vilify our enemies or those unlike ourselves.  "These People" (He also calls them knuckleheads.) appear without names or faces in Mr. Cosby's speech.  They steal, kill, are in jail, have a 50 percent dropout rate, lack parenting skills, do not practice safe sex, abandon their children, do not make use of the education opportunities available to them, rely solely on God for help, buy their children $500 sneakers, wear their hats on backwards and their pants down around the crack, give their children ridiculous sounding names, maintain a tenuous connection to Africa, stay interminably in the projects, have children with multiple partners, end up in jail, do not speak English nor are desirous of doing so, and they shoot and do stupid things. In effect, "These People", these knuckleheads, have not, according to Mr. Cosby, upheld their part of "the deal" (I must inquire about this one. Didn't even know there was a deal.).

As I indicated above, Mr. Cosby's observations are as he sees them, and he does, I suppose, reserve the right to speak as he has spoken, for, after all, he knows what it is to pull himself up by his own bootstrap.  However, I know (by name) and have worked with some of Mr. Cosby's "These People", and I must say, once one gets up close and personal, one might think twice before dismissing them as mere knuckleheads as Mr. Cosby has.  Once you get up close and personal, you cannot help but realize that "These People", these knuckleheads as Mr. Cosby calls them, are fellow humans (with names and faces) caught between hope and despair.  In my next blog I shall introduce one of these "knuckleheads".