[Marxism] Money must make you crazy

Charles Brown cbrown at michiganlegal.org
Fri May 20 10:41:01 MDT 2005

 < 	BOOK REVIEW: Money must make you crazy

Michael Eric Dyson	
Is Bill Cosby Right or has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?
Basic Civitas, May 2005
Michael Eric Dyson

By C. Kelly
The Michigan Citizen

"These people are not parenting. They're buying things for the kid. $500
sneakers. For what? And won't buy or spend $250 on Hooked on Phonics."

"It's right around da corner (laughing).It's standing on da corner. It can't
speak English. It doesn't want to speak English. I can't even talk the way
these people talk." 

".people with their hat on backwards, pants down around the crack, isn't
that a sign of something, or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up
(laughter and clapping)?"

"Those people are not Africans, they don't know a damned thing about Africa.
With names like Shaniqua, Shaligua, Mohammed and all that crap and all of
them are in jail."

- Dr. Bill Cosby at the NAACP Anniversary commemoration of the Brown vs.
Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court decision 

An author, activist and Detroit-native, Michael Eric Dyson has developed an
effective answer to Bill Cosby's speech at last year's commemorative NAACP
dinner in Washington, D.C. In "Is Bill Cosby right? Or Has the Black Middle
Class Lost Its Mind?" Dyson effectively rebuts Cosby's mean-spirited talk,
met by a receptive, laughing and clapping audience. Most importantly,
however, Dyson addresses a topic that looms large in the African-American
community: the growing economic and cultural divide between poorer and
middle-class African Americans, and the animosity between the groups.

Despite the strong title, Dyson humanely dissects Cosby. Dyson first
addresses the weaknesses of Cosby's own background and career. Cosby, quick
to call-out a lack of education in baggy pants wearers, doesn't mention his
own spotty school history. Cosby flunked tenth grade three times and was
accused by his sixth grade teacher of "clowning" too much in school. Dyson
also points out that the same 'Black English' Cosby belittles was integral
to the success of his "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" series. 

The moral failings that Cosby seems to think only afflict poorer Blacks are
not isolated to lack of funds. Dyson documents Cosby's own mistakes,
including extramarital affairs and allegations of a child out of wedlock. 

In his most persuasive argument, Dyson questions Cosby's newfound interest
in racial politics. As a comic and in his television career ("The Cosby
Show," "I Spy") Cosby refused to use racial material. Ironically, he is now
interested in discussing race at the expense of others. Dyson calls this a
tragic use of "public capital."

Dyson puts Cosby's comments in context. Cosby shares the mainstream
mentality in his ahistorical, pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstrap
mentality. A false, arrogant mentality that refuses to acknowledge slavery,
racism or the economic and social annihilation that African-Americans
continue to survive in this country. Dyson illustrates the polarizing,
uninformed nature of this discussion and the refusal by most to empathize or
understand the experience of African Americans in a context.

"Folk who rise up early every day and often work more than forty hours a
week, and yet barely, if ever, make it above the poverty level. We must
acknowledge the plight of both poor Black (single) mothers and poor Black
fathers and the lack of social support they confront."-Dyson

Throughout history, African Americans have employed a myriad of tools to
combat racism, stave-off the psychic pain of racism and live a dignified,
humane life - nationalism, addiction, religion, blood sacrifices, civil
rights, entrepreneurship, materialism and more. The hurdles are large. So
responses to this existence, like the one that Billy Cosby and mainstream
American continue to put forth, are self-righteous, belittling, ignorant and
show a refusal to acknowledge the systematic injustices African Americans

According to Dyson, it is a crying shame Cosby would make these statements
"against some of the nation's most vulnerable citizens, who are in need of
support and love, not humiliation and belittlement."


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