Since May 2004, actor, author, and comedian Bill Cosby has made a series of statements condemning the lack of academic discipline among black youth and their parents. Cosby, armed with a doctorate in education, has become a man for all seasons with his unexpected bits of straight talk. He has not spared black leadership, challenging them on their lack of accountability to the community.
In the end, all Cosby is saying is that some black folks need to become more accountable for the choices they make in life. Some dismiss this as “conservative talk.” I don’t think Cosby is being conservative, as much as he is trying to break a cycle of negative, dependency thinking among black youth and adults.
In the essay below, Armstrong Williams also addresses shortcoming among black leadership. It’s important to keep this accountability discussion going.
-- Lee Walker
Black groupthink and the pseudo leaders that tout it are destroying the black community.
The black pseudo leader is the community activist who is dedicated solely to getting us to pay attention. Nattily dressed in a Brooks Brothers suit, he stands tall at phony press conferences, studding his speech with racially charged words that solicit knee-jerk reactions from the crowd.
Racial fantasies do not confront the fact that the tenets of liberalism have failed us by putting us in the mindset that we need handouts in order to be successful. Racial revenge fantasies do not focus on political activism because it is consumed with the notion of retribution for past crimes We need to support choice and market-based reforms that will prepare us to achieve the American dream. Instead our leaders spend all their time cleaving to century-old crimes and stirring racial tensions because this is how they make a living. That is why we’ve been held back. Every leader that comes forward has his or her own agenda. Like the old saying goes: “The easiest way to control the mob is to agree with them.”
Sellout is just a term that people use to enslave us and keep us distracted from real problems. Sure racism exists--look at the White House. But throwing your arms up and claiming racism does nothing to break down those racial barriers. You must invade these fields traditionally reserved for white men and break down stereotypes from the inside.
Sadly, that’s what our so-called leaders are encouraging us to do when they tout this myth of the angry black man who deserves justice. This myth is appealing because it acknowledges the horrible crimes that have been visited upon our community. But it is dangerous because it encourages us to alienate ourselves from the opportunities that exist. Even more dangerous is the fact that we have failed to produce a new mythology, a new set of images that might encourage our community to think of itself as something other than socially alienated victims.
Until our leaders dispense with the groupthink and take a hard look at the problems facing our community, until they seek to embody a new mythology, and break free from the myth of the forever victim, little will change.
Armstrong Williams is a syndicated columnist. This is his “Right Side” column from October 14, 2004, published in the Independent Bulletin.