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Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

We just don't get it, do we?

First of all let me say that I admire Dr. Cosby for his very positive depiction of blacks in his work as a comedian and actor. When I first heard excerpts of his speech last year, I was one who was beating his drums saying, ¿say it Mr. Cosby, it¿s about time some of the...
First of all let me say that I admire Dr. Cosby for his very positive depiction of blacks in his work as a comedian and actor. When I first heard excerpts of his speech last year, I was one who was beating his drums saying, ¿say it Mr. Cosby, it¿s about time some of these knuckleheads are told the truth¿. So when I first got this book, I read it with a slight degree of trepidation, because I was scared I was going to read another dissertation on how ¿everything wrong with black people is due to some form of institutional racism¿. If it were not for the fact that I admire and respect Dr. Dyson¿s work, I would not have picked it up in the first place (although, I must say the title did amuse me). But slowly, however, as I read the book, I realized that the problem with my cries of self-righteousness upon first hearing excerpts of Dr. Cosby¿s speech was that I had not heard the whole speech and had not put his words in the right context of reality. Unless you read the book in its entirety, you will not get the point that Dyson is trying to make. It is somewhat hypocritical for Cosby to heap all this blame on working and poor black families in light of his own struggles growing up, and considering many of the social constraints that make it challenging to raise a black child in today¿s America. At first glance, you would think that Dyson is trying to give an excuse for all irrational behavior by black youth and their parents, but this is not the case at all. He goes through a lot of research to present facts that make you think and at least have more empathy before giving the ¿I-made-it-from-nothing-to-something, so-why-can¿t-you¿ speech. I find it very troubling that in America today, there seem to be two broad schools of thought in the political arena, without room for compromise: first, there is the let-the-government-solve-all-you-problems-for-you-because-you-are-a-vi ctim-of-racism-or-cirscumstance school of thought, and then there is the pull-yourself-up-by-the-boostraps-because-I-did-with-only-a-fraction-o f-the-reseources-you-have school of thought. We often label these philosophies liberal and conservative respectively. But the truth of the matter (as Dr. Dyson suggests in his book) is that the solutions to the problem of bridging the socio-economic gap between the poor black community and the black middle class are not always as simple as getting your child ¿hooked on phonics¿. Yes, education is an essential part of the growing process, but there are several constraints within the education system within urban communities that must be addressed. Whether our kids are buying $500 tennis shoes (as Cosby suggests) or wearing their pants backwards, or have names like Shaneka, Lakwanda (etc) is a secondary issue and does not address the issues that contribute to the hopelessness of plaguing many of our poor communities. Do we ever examine facts like an aggressive capitalistic business empire would rather your kids buy those expensive tennis shoes as they pawn famous athletes (who are predominantly black) to be used as spokespeople for their communities to get more sales to those ¿poor communities¿? Can we blame our kids for wanting to have a piece of the American dream, when for many just having those tennis shoes is a symbols of making it when names like Iverson, Lebron or Garnett are on those shoes [they themselves being positive models of going from rags-to-riches]? Whatever your political affiliation, I would still suggest you read this book, if not for anything else, but the facts that Dyson raises about our school systems, Cosby¿s up-bringing and background, and how ironic it seems that a man like Cosby who has always tried to avoid being labeled a black-leader (in an attempt to be seen as a human being first, not a black comedian) now all of a sudden deems himself a spokesperson for issues concerning poor and working class black families and children. It just makes me wonder, after reading this book, if Cosby

posted by Anonymous on May 10, 2005

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Personal excuse making

Dyson does a good job of dissecting Bill Cosby's comments and pointing out flaws in those comments. However Cosby's comments, in my view, didn't deserve the full professorial attention Mr. Dyson has given it. After all, Bill Cosby was simply expressing his opinions. ...
Dyson does a good job of dissecting Bill Cosby's comments and pointing out flaws in those comments. However Cosby's comments, in my view, didn't deserve the full professorial attention Mr. Dyson has given it. After all, Bill Cosby was simply expressing his opinions. But Mr. Dyson seems to have taken those comments personally and feels a need to defend the culture of excuse making and victim posturing that is currently prevalent in 'American' society. I wanted to know more about the man who thought Cosby was all wrong. I wanted to know where his views orginated and what experiences affected his opinions. So here's what I found. Dyson grew up in a comfortable middle class family. He was a teenage father (part of the target audience Cosby was focused on) and was living off the welfare system for some small portion of his early adult years. He has been given many advantages in life, a fine education, achieved many accomplishements, so why is he saying poor black people are victims and we can't expect more of them? Mr. Dyson views are at once surprising and confusing. He should go back and study the writings of Martin Luther King or the Frederick Douglas. At no time, did either of these venerable men make excuses for African Americans. They fought against injustice but did not use that injustice as a reason for not doing better. Really Mr. Dyson....shame on you.

posted by Anonymous on May 11, 2005

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2005

    We just don't get it, do we?

    First of all let me say that I admire Dr. Cosby for his very positive depiction of blacks in his work as a comedian and actor. When I first heard excerpts of his speech last year, I was one who was beating his drums saying, ¿say it Mr. Cosby, it¿s about time some of these knuckleheads are told the truth¿. So when I first got this book, I read it with a slight degree of trepidation, because I was scared I was going to read another dissertation on how ¿everything wrong with black people is due to some form of institutional racism¿. If it were not for the fact that I admire and respect Dr. Dyson¿s work, I would not have picked it up in the first place (although, I must say the title did amuse me). But slowly, however, as I read the book, I realized that the problem with my cries of self-righteousness upon first hearing excerpts of Dr. Cosby¿s speech was that I had not heard the whole speech and had not put his words in the right context of reality. Unless you read the book in its entirety, you will not get the point that Dyson is trying to make. It is somewhat hypocritical for Cosby to heap all this blame on working and poor black families in light of his own struggles growing up, and considering many of the social constraints that make it challenging to raise a black child in today¿s America. At first glance, you would think that Dyson is trying to give an excuse for all irrational behavior by black youth and their parents, but this is not the case at all. He goes through a lot of research to present facts that make you think and at least have more empathy before giving the ¿I-made-it-from-nothing-to-something, so-why-can¿t-you¿ speech. I find it very troubling that in America today, there seem to be two broad schools of thought in the political arena, without room for compromise: first, there is the let-the-government-solve-all-you-problems-for-you-because-you-are-a-vi ctim-of-racism-or-cirscumstance school of thought, and then there is the pull-yourself-up-by-the-boostraps-because-I-did-with-only-a-fraction-o f-the-reseources-you-have school of thought. We often label these philosophies liberal and conservative respectively. But the truth of the matter (as Dr. Dyson suggests in his book) is that the solutions to the problem of bridging the socio-economic gap between the poor black community and the black middle class are not always as simple as getting your child ¿hooked on phonics¿. Yes, education is an essential part of the growing process, but there are several constraints within the education system within urban communities that must be addressed. Whether our kids are buying $500 tennis shoes (as Cosby suggests) or wearing their pants backwards, or have names like Shaneka, Lakwanda (etc) is a secondary issue and does not address the issues that contribute to the hopelessness of plaguing many of our poor communities. Do we ever examine facts like an aggressive capitalistic business empire would rather your kids buy those expensive tennis shoes as they pawn famous athletes (who are predominantly black) to be used as spokespeople for their communities to get more sales to those ¿poor communities¿? Can we blame our kids for wanting to have a piece of the American dream, when for many just having those tennis shoes is a symbols of making it when names like Iverson, Lebron or Garnett are on those shoes [they themselves being positive models of going from rags-to-riches]? Whatever your political affiliation, I would still suggest you read this book, if not for anything else, but the facts that Dyson raises about our school systems, Cosby¿s up-bringing and background, and how ironic it seems that a man like Cosby who has always tried to avoid being labeled a black-leader (in an attempt to be seen as a human being first, not a black comedian) now all of a sudden deems himself a spokesperson for issues concerning poor and working class black families and children. It just makes me wonder, after reading this book, if Cosby

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2005

    Uncle toms Beware

    This excellent book my Mr. Dyson shows the self-hatred and elitism by upper middle class blacks. If you're an uncle tom then this book will show you about yourself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2005

    Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?

    Dyson articualtes the thoughts of the working class to the elites

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2005

    Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?

    I am one of the people Cosby talked about. I wear baggy clothes, listen to hip-hop and occasionally speak in slang. I also am a 3.0 college student who volunteers. Cosby and the people like him have no connection to the urban youth. They try to understand us, but they never talk to us. They just sit around and preach to each other. Dyson is the voice of the hip-hop generation and he allows us to express ourselves and we do know about personal responsibilty, but nobody makes it on their own Everybody receives help along the way, but the black elite is too busy looking down their noses at us to lend a helping hand.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2005

    Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?

    The self-hate inside the black elite is exposed. The black elite has always snubbed their noses at the working class. Do they lend ahelping hand? No! They spit on us. Dyson exposes the hyprocrisy of Cosby and his followers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2005

    Thought intensive

    Those wanting a clear understanding of what went into Bill Cosby's NAACP remarks last year should read this book, if you agreed or not. The points raised in this book are not only accurate, but also give a startling insight into Black middleclass self-hatred.

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