Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Promised Land Lost? (2005)

An editorial I wrote last year...

Tough love isn’t a bad thing. Tough without the love isn’t too good.

Bill Cosby’s last year Bill Cosby’s speech at Charles Drew Elementary School in Bayview Hunter’s Point could easily be summed up as, “Promised Land Lost.”

Perhaps less poetic than Milton, Cosby came under fire for his harsh analysis of poor Blacks in a controversial speech marking Brown vs. the Board of Education decision last May.

The San Francisco Chronicle printed Cosby’s comments blasting negligent Black parents who mourn troubled youngsters. “Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn’t know he had a pistol?,” Cosby asked, “And where is the father? You can’t keep saying that God will find a way. God is tired of you.”

There is a nugget of truth in Cosby’s argument. The future of Black America doesn’t rest in the hands of public institutions. Racism exists, yet we as a people cannot allow racism to prevent us from being who God created us to be. Unjust standard, but what’s the alternative?

Here’s another truth: Most Black people aren’t on drugs, derelict, destitute, in jail, or swiftly heading there---and those people resent the idea that victimization is second nature to Blacks. Cosby’s remarks struck gold with blue collars and buppies within the community resentful of an “underclass” that hasn’t arrived at the foot of the mountain, let alone the top; it also and endeared him to conservatives happier than hallelujah to cosign.

However well intentioned Cosby’s desire for parental responsibility, his indignant response can be likened to Moses in the Old Testament striking water from a rock and telling the unfaithful Israelites, “Hear now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” This was the ultimate insult to God because Moses didn’t believe in the divine transformation. And he paid a hefty price—Moses, the man who spent the majority of his life devoted to God’s work was denied entrance to the promised land because didn’t acknowledge that it was bigger than himself.

A good friend taught me that responsibility means that what we do makes a difference. If accountability applies only to the poor, we’ve created a difference without distinction.

The sense of a common struggle is eroding among some in the Black middle class. We cannot drive our SUV’s to corporate jobs and go to our and step over the homeless on our way to our mega churches without remembering, “To whom much is given, much is required.” It defies the legacy of our grandparents who shared all they had, even when that was little.

Progressives may disagree with their politics, but haven’t conservatives (and Black nationalists) argued for years that the Black community needs people willing to do more than write a check? Cosby is among a privileged few with the ability to command diverse unilateral and national attention. The question begs to be asked--Wouldn’t it be powerful if we used our resources to transform our families instead of shaming them?

No comments: