Lest anyone forget, Bill Cosby is still a comic.
“I’m going down there to make people laugh,” he told The Root, a few days prior to a mid-January performance for a North Carolina audience that is paying to hear Cosby’s comedy.
From his Massachusetts home, he was winding down an almost hourlong conversation in which he mentioned his newest book of humor, I Didn’t Ask to Be Born (but I’m Glad I Was), but mainly continued his unabashed critique of what ails some parts of black America, which has put Cosby in the headlines and, with certain critics, in hot water.
“These are liniment salesmen,” he said, dismissing the critics, including some fairly famous black ones. “They’re selling things for their own good. It doesn’t make any difference [to the salesmen] if people are getting well or not.”
His public pointedness about the travails of black people, who account for some of the worst statistical markers of life in America, is no different from what many a black preacher says on any given Sunday. It’s what an average black person on the block routinely says to a neighbor, Cosby said.
For his own part, he has been disavowing black-on-black crime, lambasting disproportionately low black academic performance and workplace strides, and the failure of some blacks to call black dysfunction what it is and then set out to correct it.
“I don’t know how many decades ago it was, but I remember Jesse Jackson saying ‘babies having babies’ … We really did not address the psychology of this. We were busy trying not to offend the teenager, to scar the teenager for life,” Cosby said.
Until an uptick in 2006, the black teen birth rate (pdf) had declined by 45 percent during the prior decade. But babies born to black teens, along with Latino teens, still disproportionately outpace the figure for whites. The manifold consequences of these facts are staring black America in its face right now, Cosby said.