Bill Cosby Gets a Little More Off His Chest
By Don Babwin
Friday, July 2, 2004; Page C07
CHICAGO, July 1 -- Bill Cosby delivered another tirade against the black community Thursday, telling a room full of activists that black children are running around not knowing how to read or write and "going nowhere."
He also had harsh words for struggling black men, telling them: "Stop beating up your women because you can't find a job."
Cosby drew criticism in May when, at a commemoration of the anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision, he upbraided some poor blacks for their grammar and accused them of squandering opportunities the civil rights movement gave them. He shot back Thursday, saying his detractors were trying in vain to hide the black community's "dirty laundry."
"Let me tell you something, your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2:30 every day, it's cursing and calling each other [racial epithets] as they're walking up and down the street," Cosby said during an appearance at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition & Citizenship Education Fund's annual conference.
"They think they're hip," the entertainer said. "They can't read; they can't write. They're laughing and giggling, and they're going nowhere."
Cosby elaborated on his previous comments in a talk interrupted several times by applause. He castigated some blacks, saying that they cannot simply blame whites for problems such as teen pregnancy and high school dropout rates.
"For me there is a time . . . when we have to turn the mirror around," he said. "Because for me it is almost analgesic to talk about what the white man is doing against us. And it keeps a person frozen in their seat, it keeps you frozen in your hole you're sitting in."
He also chastised black men who missed out on opportunities and are now angry about their lives.
"You've got to stop beating up your women because you can't find a job, because you didn't want to get an education and now you're [earning] minimum wage," Cosby said.
Cosby appeared with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the education fund, who defended the entertainer's statements.
"Bill is saying let's fight the right fight, let's level the playing field," Jackson said. "Drunk people can't do that. Illiterate people can't do that."
Cosby also said many young people are failing to honor the sacrifices made by those who struggled and died during the civil rights movement.
"Dogs, water hoses that tear the bark off trees, Emmett Till," he said, naming the black youth who was tortured and murdered in Mississippi in 1955, for allegedly whistling at a white woman. "And you're going to tell me you're going to drop out of school? You're going to tell me you're going to steal from a store?"
© 2004 The Washington Post Company