Funny how we believe things just because people tell them to us - especially racially tinged assumptions. If Bill Cosby is so concerned about the plight of Black children, how come he is still a billionaire?
The New York Times, editorial, July 8, 2004
The New Cosby Kids
July 8, 2004
By BARBARA EHRENREICH
It was such a dog-bites-man story that I almost skipped
right by: Billionaire Bashes Poor Blacks. The only thing
that gave this particular story a little piquancy is that
the billionaire doing the bashing is black himself. Bill
Cosby has been attacking the poor of his race, and
especially the youthful poor, for a range of sins,
including using bad words, "stealing poundcake," "giggling"
and failing to give their children normal names like
"Bill." "The lower-economic people," Cosby announced, "are
not holding up their end in this deal."
They let me down, too, sometimes - like that girl at
Wendy's who gave me sweet iced tea when I had clearly
specified unsweetened. She looked a little tired, but, as
Cos might point out: How hard can it be to hold a job, go
to high school and care for younger siblings in all your
spare moments while your parents are at work?
But it's just so 1985 to beat up on the black poor. During
the buildup to welfare "reform" in 1996, the comfortable
denizens of think spas like the Heritage Foundation
routinely excoriated poor black women for being lazy,
promiscuous, government-dependent baby machines, not to
mention overweight (that poundcake again). As for poor
black youth, they were targeted in the 90's as a generation
of "superpredators," gang-bangers and thugs.
It's time to start picking on a more up-to-date pariah
group for the 21st century, and I'd like to nominate the
elderly whites. Filial restraint has so far kept the
would-be Social Security privatizers on the right from
going after them, but the grounds for doing so are clear.
For one thing, there's a startling new wave of "grandpa
bandits" terrorizing rural banks. And occasionally some old
duffer works himself into a frenzy listening to Cole Porter
tunes and drives straight into a crowd of younger folks.
The law-abiding old whites are no prize either.
Overwhelmingly, they choose indolence over employment -
lounging on park benches, playing canasta - when we all
know there are plenty of people-greeter jobs out there.
Since it's government money that allows them to live in
this degenerate state, we can expect the Heritage
Foundation to reveal any day now that some seniors are
cashing in their Social Security checks for vodka and
Viagra. Just as welfare was said to "cause poverty," the
experts may soon announce that Medicare causes baldness and
that Social Security is a risk factor for osteoporosis: the
correlations are undeniable.
And the menace posed by the elderly can only get worse, as
ever more of them sink into debt. What's eating up their
nest eggs? In many cases, drugs. How long before the
streets are ruled by geezer gangs mugging us to support
their insulin and beta-blocker habits?
All right, before the AARP issues a fatwa against me, could
we please acknowledge that the demonization of welfare
recipients wasn't based on reality either? Contrary to the
stereotype, welfare moms in 1996 averaged two children per
family, not six, and in surveys always expressed a desire
to work, should child care become available. Incidentally,
only a minority of them were African-American.
As for the black youth who so exercise Cosby, their
pregnancy rates aren't "soaring," as he reportedly claimed;
in fact, they're lower than they've been in decades. Ditto
with crime rates. And if Cosby's worried about poor grammar
and so forth, why isn't he ranting about the Bush 2005
budget, which would end a slew of programs for dropout
prevention, recreation and school counseling?
Or, if he's looking for tantrum fodder, what about the fact
that a black baby has a 40 percent chance of being born
into poverty? You can blame adults for their poverty - if
you're mean-spirited enough - but you cannot blame babies,
and that's, in effect, what we're talking about here.
As the sociologist Michael Males, who monitors
youth-bashing outbreaks, told me: "Younger black America
today is struggling admirably against massive
disinvestments in schools, terrible unemployment, harsh
policing and degrading prejudices, and they're succeeding
amazingly well. They deserve respect, not grown-up
But it must be fun to beat up on people too young and too
poor to fight back, or the elderly rich wouldn't do it.
Cranky old rich people: now there's a demographic group
that qualifies as a genuine Menace 2 Society.