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Doctor recommended for optimal cerebral hygiene 

Bootstraps Revisited

Monday, August 02, 2004

A month ago I posted some commentary on Bill Cosby's recent rants. The Cos has been raising hell about how his fellow African-Americans, namely those living in poverty, are increasingly responsible for their lack of upward mobility.

As a follow-up, I highly recommend this excellent column by none other than Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in the New York Times. Gates draws on the Cosby comments as well as the now famous DNC speech of Barack Obama.

Here's a teaser:
Go into any inner-city neighborhood," Barack Obama said in his keynote address to the Democratic National Convention, "and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white." In a speech filled with rousing applause lines, it was a line that many black Democratic delegates found especially galvanizing. Not just because they agreed, but because it was a home truth they'd seldom heard a politician say out loud.

Why has it been so difficult for black leaders to say such things in public, without being pilloried for "blaming the victim"? Why the huge flap over Bill Cosby's insistence that black teenagers do their homework, stay in school, master standard English and stop having babies? Any black person who frequents a barbershop or beauty parlor in the inner city knows that Mr. Cosby was only echoing sentiments widely shared in the black community.

(p.s. May this post serve as a not-so-subtle plug for the New York Times Online. Yes it requires registration, but if there is any single publication worth going through the hassle of filling out and submitting a free registration form its this one. If you don't like registering because you are worried about getting junk email, get a throwaway free Hotmail or Yahoo email account if you have to, but don't block yourself out of the Times for that reason alone.)