June 3, 2004
A black conservative activist says comedian Bill Cosby was publicly echoing the opinions of many other African Americans when he criticized low-income individuals for not taking personal responsibility for their lives. A respected black columnist who grew up in the same Philadelphia neighborhood as Cosby agrees, saying most of the problems that many black Americans face today have "little or nothing to do with racial discrimination."
Cosby has been taking a great deal of heat since his mid-May comments in Washington, DC, during which he asserted that problems in the black community are mostly the result of personal failure rather than external factors such as racism and public policy. But the popular entertainer is standing by his comments, saying that "fighting racial injustice must also include personal responsibility."
Ward Connerly is founder and president of the American Civil Rights Institute, a California-based group whose goal is to educate the public about the need to move beyond racial and gender preferences. Connerly says Cosby is just expressing what many others know to be true.
"He has not said anything that the average, reasonably well-informed black person doesn't agree with and doesn't say in the privacy of the black barber shop or the black church or any other venue where black people talk among themselves," Connerly says. "The only thing that I think some people wrongly are criticizing Cosby for is that he said this in a very public setting."
The ACRI head says Cosby's comments did not reveal anything new about the inner cities of the nation -- just something that needs to be addressed. "He said this in a very public setting, and said it in a way that others could hear and jump on the bandwagon," Connerly asserts.
"But as he said, this isn't something that the conservative press didn't know and wouldn't say absent his comments -- this is no secret. All you have to do is walk down the streets and you can confirm what Bill Cosby is saying."
In a column published by WorldNetDaily, Dr. Walter Williams reflects on Cosby's comments, saying the most devastating problems experienced by a large segment of the black community are "self-inflicted." The respected economics professor from George Mason University cites recent statistics showing high percentages of single-parent homes, illegitimacy, and homicides among African Americans -- and then disputes arguments that those problems are caused by racism.
"Don't give me any of that legacy-of-slavery nonsense unless you can explain why all of these problems were not worse during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, at a time when blacks were much closer to slavery, were much poorer, faced more discrimination, and had fewer opportunities," he writes.
Williams describes Cosby's comments as "bold" and perhaps even a catalyst for "honest and fruitful discussion" within the black community. "And for that," the columnist says, "we all owe him thanks."
American Civil Rights Institute (http://www.acri.org)
© 2004 Agape Press.