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Cos, he said so

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 12:01 PM
Cos, he said so

"You have to seriously see yourselves not as the old women where the men stood in front and you all stood behind, because the men, most of them are in prison."

In the 1980s, we watched Bill Cosby glamorize the black family through "The Cosby Show." For me, I wanted to be a Huxtable. Growing up in South-Central Los Angeles, I saw myself and my family as somewhat of a 'hood Huxtables. My parents, while not doctors or lawyers, made enough money to keep my brother and I in private schools, go out to fancy restaurants, and take trips to Vegas, Cleveland, Florida, and New York. I thought we were rich. I was the first kid on my block to own a pair of rollerblades and one of the few to have ever been on a airplane. Then it all fell apart. My mother was laid off from her well-paying job with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, my parents divorced, and my mother, brother and I moved into my grandparents house. Our lifestyle completely shifted. No more trips, no more Friday night dinners out, my father became distant, and my mother was left to struggle to pay my tuition, our rent, and keep us afloat. She effectively became both mother and father, playing both roles fairly well, while somehow able to keep it all together.

At this year's commencement speech at Spellman college, Bill Cosby warned the graduates of the all-women’s college that they will have to be the ones to lead the race because black men are lagging behind. Cosby went on to tell the graduating class that "it is time for you to pick up the pace and lead because the men are not there. They're not there and every one of you young women know it.”

I know I am late to this issues and his comments, but this quote was posted in this month's Essence magazine, and so it got me to thinking. When I was in college, we (black women) would have these discussion amongst ourselves about brothas not being on our level. We noticed that we outnumbered our black male counterparts in nearly every class, major, and every dorm. We wondered who would we marry after we got grown, got our education, and had established ourselves in the world.

Lately there has been a string of articles and special reports about the plight of the black male in America. While I am torn by Mr. Cosby's comments, I think there is a bit of truth in his words. Unfortunately, black women are making greater and faster strides in corporate/academic America than black men. Because of this we do bear a certain amount of responsibility to be leaders in our communities to help facilitate success for the next generation of black youth. However, Mr. Cosby's comments rubbed me slightly the wrong way because, to me, they seem to call for the abandonment of black men. He seems to be saying that black women must lead, without trying to simultaneously help our brothas succeed. If that were the case I would not be with beloved. I have two degrees (BA/MFA), a well-paying job, and am about to return for more schooling. Beloved, on the other hand, was working toward his BA and is currently incarcerated. He has a great heart and a determined work ethic, but he is not on my "level" academically or economically. If I were to overlook him because of these things, I would have missed out on someone who loves and cares for me unconditionally.

If we write off our brothas and abandon them, how can we rise as a people? We can't. While I applaud Mr. Cosby for bringing these issues to light and begining a dialogue, I am skeptical at the message he is sending our young women. We cannot rise and succeed as a collective without ALL of our members performing their duties. Instead of merely claiming our place as leaders, we need to figure out ways to help our entire community to succeed.

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9 Response to 'Cos, he said so'

  1. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2006/07/cos-he-said-so_19.html?showComment=1153368960000#c115336896306051037'> Wednesday, July 19, 2006 9:16:00 PM

    I don't think he's saying we (women) should rise and lead forever. It's more, "don't wait on the fellas, do it now and hopefully, they'll eventually catch up."

    I commend him and think he makes perfect sense. This romaniticized all inclusive picture of "US" all is optimistic, not to mention unrealistic. If we wait for "US" all to be synchronized, we'll never get the dag thing goin'.

    As we've seen time. And time. And time. Again.

    Just my two "sense".


  2. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2006/07/cos-he-said-so_19.html?showComment=1153412880000#c115341288226918892'> Thursday, July 20, 2006 9:28:00 AM

    blowersdaughter: i agree with you when you say we can't wait for things to happen, for the collective to be a whole before we rise. i never indicated that. i merely said his statements sort of left a bad taste in his mouth. it's nothing new for black women to hold things together & blaze the trails for our kids...but to me, his words just impiled that black men will never get it together & are a lost cause. i think it's dangerous when we unleash our sisters into the world to lead without informing/reminding them that they/we must help others to reach success.


  3. Stephen Bess Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2006/07/cos-he-said-so_19.html?showComment=1153413780000#c115341382231699024'> Thursday, July 20, 2006 9:43:00 AM

    I feel that black women have always led the way in our struggle. They have been the black man's "secret" weapon for years against the system. The system is set up to destroy the black man and will do so without hesitation. Black women stood on the front lines at times throughout history and took a great deal of the abuse. That abuse sometimes even came from her own black man that had been castrated by this system. This vicious amputation of his very spirit has caused him to pass the baton on to his black woman. She has been running the race and the home ever since.

    Thank you sister for standing by your man because I know that it is not always easy. Bless you~


  4. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2006/07/cos-he-said-so_19.html?showComment=1153501740000#c115350177818470628'> Friday, July 21, 2006 10:09:00 AM

    Bless: i agree we (black women) have always been leaders. but i think we're moving into the times where we are forsaking our black men. & that scares me. and thank you for your words. *smile*


  5. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2006/07/cos-he-said-so_19.html?showComment=1153515480000#c115351550103843480'> Friday, July 21, 2006 1:58:00 PM

    I see what you're saying...and to a certain degree he probably was suggesting we not "hold on" to brothas not making moves...not necessarily abandon, but definitely not be held back. There's no one more protective of black men than sistas, often to a fault. So in that respect I have to agree with Cos. I don't co-sign on the abandonment, but I know that after a while it gets tiresome to defend and support dudes who show they dont want it. Obviously SOME, not all.


  6. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2006/07/cos-he-said-so_19.html?showComment=1153683960000#c115368397979085103'> Sunday, July 23, 2006 12:46:00 PM

    I hear you, Prisoner's wife, but I took his comment differently.

    I think that he meant that Black woman have to do the leading, meaning to facilitate foward movement in our race. I don't think he meant that we should give up on Black men. I think he's saying that there is a severe lack of a collective Black male presence to make a difference and that the Black woman is going to have to pick up the slack and compensate for the plight of the Black male in America in order to move the entire race forward in this country.


  7. Xavier Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2006/07/cos-he-said-so_19.html?showComment=1153727400000#c115372740736241900'> Monday, July 24, 2006 12:50:00 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


  8. Xavier Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2006/07/cos-he-said-so_19.html?showComment=1153727820000#c115372786345864587'> Monday, July 24, 2006 12:57:00 AM

    [Taking a deep breath] Where do I start? I know, let me start by saying that I am a black man who was arrested and imprisoned earlier this year. I was not arrested because I’m black. I was not arrested because I was targeted or profiled. I was not arrested because I exercised my 1st amendment right to free speech and mouthed off to a cop who then felt he needed to teach this nigger a lesson. I was not arrested because of any of the numerous and real flaws in the system. I was arrested because I was caught breaking the law. I knew what I was doing and I knew I was wrong, but I did it anyway, day after day, until I was finally caught. It was my first arrest, but it has in no way changed my view about the state of the black male in the U.S. I have always agreed with Cosby and I have always applauded him for saying what others are either too afraid to say, or worse, too crooked to say because for many so-called black leaders, “the man” has been a convenient rallying cry to mobilize the black masses to vote for white politicians who do nothing more than line the pockets of the so-called leaders in exchange for the black vote.

    Black men need to grow up and accept responsibility for their actions. Stop blaming “the man”! The man isn’t stopping you from having safe sex! The man isn’t stopping you from taking care of your kids! The man isn’t telling you to treat your baby-mama like shit while you running around with... [Taking another deep breath.] We don’t even need to go there. Cosby has consistently challenged black men to stop blaming “the man” and step up to the plate. And many black men are doing just that, some are even doing it from behind bars! He has never advocated the abandonment of black men. The context of this speech was a women’s college. He was telling these ladies to keep their eyes on the prize and drop any dead weight that might hinder their progress. It is the same advice any responsible parent would give a daughter, and it is to be taken on a case by case basis.

    We as responsible black men and women have a responsibility to our children, to pick the best possible mates with whom to establish strong families that will in turn produce productive members of society. Incarceration does not necessarily disqualify a man (or a woman) from being a good potential mate, but recidivism and irresponsibility most certainly do. For the sake of our children, let us go back to our roots and be mindful of who we bring home to mama.

    If that was more than two cents, feel free to keep the change, I got plenty more.


  9. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2006/07/cos-he-said-so_19.html?showComment=1153783020000#c115378306133805565'> Monday, July 24, 2006 4:17:00 PM

    Xavier: i feel you. black men Do need to get it together. and Cos should be holding y'all accountable, but hopefully it's not just lip service. i know he donates to education, but instead of just making speeches, i hope he is developing some type of plan to help brothas work it out.

    see, i think there has been a HUGE break down b/w the civil rights gen & the younger generation. we don't understand each other. don't understand each other's experiences. i think there has to be more of a collective purpose & a lot of working together so we CAN fortify our families and create more positive, productive black men.

    btw: thanks for reading...glad you enjoy the blog so much. *smile*