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

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

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by Michael Eric Dyson

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The best-selling book that sparked a national debate about the class divide in black AmericaSee more details below


The best-selling book that sparked a national debate about the class divide in black America

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Last May, iconic comedian Cosby raised a storm with a dyspeptic rant about the self-destructive failures of the black underclass: "knuckleheads" without parents who "put their clothes on backward," speak bad English and go to jail. To pop culture intellectual Dyson-author of books on Marvin Gaye, Tupac Shakur and Martin Luther King Jr.-this was the most blatant manifestation of an attitude shared by the "Afristocracy." With empathy and energy, Dyson takes Cosby at his word and dissects his arguments-as well as the comedian's own conduct-in order to combat Afristocratic dogma. While Dyson is merciless in assessing both, he takes the opportunity to explore a host of hot-button issues in black culture, from illegitimacy to faux African names, citing data and making his own case for black culture as adapted to a dominant white society that systematically puts up barriers to opportunity. The prolific Dyson has already generated controversy with what finally amounts to an evisceration of a major black figure, but that seems to be precisely the point. Despite the specificity and ferocity of Dyson's critique (which draws on allegations that Cosby sexually abused a woman and fathered an illegitimate child, and understates the race politics of The Cosby Show), Cosby ends up more of a straw man than take-down victim, as Dyson celebrates the "persistent freedom of black folk." 12-city author tour; 40-city radio satellite tour. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In a 1968 television special, a 1969 Playboy interview, and a 1976 doctoral dissertation, Bill Cosby laid the responsibility for the constricted life opportunities of low-income blacks on the shoulders of privileged white society. Flash to May 2004, when Cosby gave a well-publicized speech in which he tore into those he referred to as African American "knuckleheads," calling them irresponsible and uneducated and charging them with failing in their parental duties. A best-selling author (Holler If You Hear Me), Baptist minister, and ex-welfare teenage father, Dyson (humanities, Univ. of Pennsylvania) firmly castigates Cosby for ignoring gross inequities in educational opportunities, criminal justice treatment, living conditions, and respect. Cosby, argues Dyson, should use his station in life to help. Highly recommended for those interested in exploring relations among the different U.S. classes and what the disparity means to the country's overall future.-Suzanne W. Wood, emerita, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Alfred Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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