Bill Cosby is an American icon. In my opinion he is the most dominant African-American TV personality and arguably the most accomplished entertainer of any race for all time. He was a positive presence for African-Americans for decades on TV, starting with I-Spy in the Sixties, Fat Albert in the seventies, and the Cosby Show in the eighties and nineties. Cosby’s shows and performances have won numerous awards and recognition worldwide bringing pride and joy to millions. For Blacks, Cosby’s work and accomplishments have always been a deep reservoir of racial pride.
Man, have we fallen since the end of Cosby’s reign. Now, coming to a cable station near you is the Oxygen network’s new reality show, “All My Babies Mamas,” staring rapper Shawty Lo. Shawty Lo is a rapper from Georgia and the show will basically show him and his life dealing with his 10 kids from 11 different women! Wow. Forgive me while I pause for a moment because even though I first heard about this show a week ago I am still shocked to the point of speechlessness every time I think about it. Has it really come to this? Has the African-American family unit that helped us survive slavery and defeat Jim Crow disintegrated to this point?
I was in college when I began to notice a new phrase that was taking hold in Black vocabulary, “my baby’s mom” or “my baby’s father”. These are terms that were used to replace wife or husband. These terms are so prevalent in the Black community that I would be willing to have someone sit in a Black barber shop or beauty salon all day on a busy Saturday and pay them twenty dollars every time they heard someone refer to their wife or husband opposed to baby momma or baby daddy and I will have absolutely no fear of going broke. With over 70% of Black children being born in single parent homes, the last thing we need is a show starring a popular rapper glorifying a shameful and harmful life style. A show that will, of course, be watched in those very same homes that are over 70% single family. And in those homes, the overwhelming majority of which are headed by single women, what will the message be to the boys and young men who live there from this show?
Ironically it was Bill Cosby who received the most attention when he tried to sound the warning bell to the Black community and inspire us all to a call to action to take on the social challenges facing our community. This of course was his famous “Dirty laundry” speech he gave in 2004 at a gala celebrating the 50 anniversary of the Brown versus the Board of Education Supreme Court decision. In his speech Cosby called out Black America for not living up to what was fought for in the civil rights moment and that instead of blaming white America and racism for everything, we as a people need to look in a mirror and see that a majority of our wounds are self inflicted. Cosby’s biggest issue that day was Black youth. He basically (and correctly) pointed out that far too many of them do not study, cannot speak proper English, use the ‘N’ word constantly, and wear their pants down below their butts. Cosby of course was lambasted by every left-leaning, excuse-making, liberal pundits and poverty-pimps who could quickly make their way to a microphone, blog post or Op-Ed. Professor Michael Eric Dyson became a liberal super star by attacking Cosby on this topic; he even wrote a book. Dyson’s point was that Cosby is out of touch and does not understand that what is going on with poor blacks really is the fault of white people. Al Sharpton said he would not want Cosby’s remarks to take focus away from what he believes the majority in the country have done to the Black community. Some folks even said Cosby should stick to selling Jell-O. The pushback from the left was so loud and strong that Cosby’s message was lost.
So instead of shows like the Cosby Show that highlighted a two parent home of a successful Black family, we will have in its place Shawty Lo and his babies’ mommas.
What a shame!