On May 17, 2004, at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., the NAACP, Howard University, and the NAACP Legal and Educational Defense Fund held a “commemoration” of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown vs the Board of Education decision. At this event, comedian/actor, Bill Cosby and his wife, Camille, were being honored for their “philanthropic” work. For twenty minutes, from the podium, Bill Cosby spewed a diatribe of denunciations of poor Blacks in the U.S. which appear to be reflective of self hatred.
Many of those who have access to the print and electronic media have had their say about Cosby’s comments. Most of these journalists are a part of the group, like Cosby, who have “made it” or they represent the viewpoint and class interest of rich media owners who have.
The purpose of this paper is to address Bill Cosby’s comments from a working class, proletarian, peoples stand point—from a revolutionary perspective.
Bill Cosby and his comments are not nearly as important as the crucial issue of how the people process information. Many people have made the blanket statement “I agree with Bill Cosby.” This type of comment underscores the need for more critical, analytical—even revolutionary thinking.
Based on countless comments that I have heard on the radio, in the print media and in general conversation, many people, in agreeing with Bill Cosby, appear to be responding to the need to address an obvious crisis among many Black youth in the U.S. Most don’t have a clue as to the actual comments that Mr. Bill Cosby made at Constitution Hall on May 17, 2004.
Bill Cosby has made several different, backward comments. Even though each comment is indicative of the outlook of the rich ruling class, still, each comment must be taken separately and dissected with the precision of revolutionary science.
This is not only true in the case of Bill Cosby, but every event, comment, viewpoint and so forth, in society, must be more carefully, even scientifically considered, if we are to move beyond the world of subjugation, white supremacy, exploitation and oppression.
Let’s examine Bill Cosby’s comments. In bold print, I will Quote (not paraphrase) some of Bill’s comments and address them from a revolutionary standpoint.
Cosby: “I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange jump suit. Where were you when he was 2? Where were you when he was 12? Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn’t know he had a pistol. And where is the father?”
Many a Black parent is at the same place when their child is 18 that they were when the child was 2—that is, on lock-down inside and outside the prisons. They are on lock-down behind a wall of poverty and misery in the projects and ghettos of America. In fact, as of January 2005, more fathers are incarcerated than at any previous time in U.S. history. At this writing, in twelve (12) states in this country, prisons comprise the biggest industry and Blacks are the main cannon fodder in this prison slavery scheme.
These parents, under such critical scrutiny, are quite often parents without jobs, or the working poor without benefits or health-care, and increasingly homeless, and even the working-homeless, in the land of plenty.
These parents live under a system that has traditionally forbidden aid to families with a father in the house. It is hell on a father who has been virtually emasculated for raising his head or voice against a work place—a work place that has nothing for him but exploitation and humiliation. For the most part, it’s put up with the abuse or be thrown out. Under capitalism, it’s rough for a man to stay in a home in which he cannot provide.
These parents are forced to live under a system that increasingly sends jobs to other countries where the capitalists can defile and pollute the air and water with impunity and work the people like slaves, on the one hand. On the other hand, it employs cheap (almost slave) immigrant labor, at home. This scheme leaves the people here with no jobs or a tripled work load for those that have jobs.
Imagine a poor family, usually a single mother household (often a grandmother) without a credit card, lost in a society in which legalized, criminal enterprise is legion—the phone company, public transportation/auto up-keep, and the outrageously high costs for clothes, shoes, food, medicine, heat, and on and on some more. Under the profit driven system of capitalism, one serious health issue (medical crisis) can take a well-off family, with health care, completely down, financially. Consider the seventy million people in this country who, at some time during the year, have no health care at all!
After working all day, or not, after being confronted with washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning, sewing and more, is it fair to castigate a parent for not being this all encompassing “home school teacher?”
This society has massive, powerful, well-organized institutions that exploit the people—the police, the courts, the utilities, the military, the prisons, pharmaceutical corporations/illegal drug cartels and other huge multinational enterprises including, the government and many more. Yet, the responsibility for dealing with this massive, organized, institutionalized exploitation, according to the powers that be and their apologists, falls on poor parents—on the downtrodden and then, on the downtrodden as individuals. Ponder the absurdity of this for a moment.
Now, look around! The most reactionary elements in this system are on mission to privatize everything—the prisons, the schools, social security, military functions, religious organizations as social service agencies, and just everything. This scheme illustrates, with crystal clarity, the thrust to make the rich, richer. In the process, it drives the people deeper and deeper into poverty and blames the people for a lack of personal responsibility. Then, adding insult to injury, they have rich and well-off Blacks like Bill Cosby and, essentially, the entire Petty Bourgeoisie class, to highlight the premise that the oppressed are responsible for their own oppression.
On top of all this, in the U.S., our communities are inundated with these annoying, spying, blue flashing “big brother” cameras. Our communities are also surrounded by armed police, thugs who effectuate a selective, “designer” police state and are the slave catchers in the new prison slavery. The police are also the shock troops in the push to turn the U.S. into a fanatical religious dictatorship.
What are we going to do about all this? We have to fight to socialize everything. We must form organizations that relieve these horrible, unrealistic expectations that are placed on poor individuals. My ears are burning from some apologist for the system running on, right now, about how their grandmamma/momma/daddy or whoever, worked five jobs on one leg with a bad eye and crawled twenty miles per day on their hands and knees to take care of seventeen kids and made sure they were not like those other lazy Negroes. Well good for them and you. Look how you turned out, philosophically.
The rich, ruling class and their apologists, feel that each poor, individual parent should put forward this type of gargantuan effort in order for their children to be successful. This is a ridiculous premise. Granted, there is no substitute for hard work. But, the point, here, is that human society needs to be reorganized in such a way that no one should have to work like this to have their needs wants and desires met in a world so obviously rich with material and human resources. Shared communal effort is the revolutionary wave of the future.
We need organizations that assist with house-work, childcare, economic needs, education and form group unity against all the myriads of obstacles with which the people are faced. But, then, this can never be fully achieved under the capitalist system. This is the job and purpose of revolution.
Cosby: “These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids--$500 for sneakers for what? And won’t spend $200 for ‘Hooked on Phonics.”
There are no $500 sneakers but if there were, the fact remains that ostentatious display of wealth is at the core of what the capitalist system is all about. Capitalism itself is a grand scheme of “look what I got that you don’t have.” This behavior does not originate from the poor. Bling, bling for the rich is jet planes, ocean liners, private islands and “philanthropy.” Rich cannot exist without it’s opposite, poor.
It’s hard for a poor person not to want at least a gold chain or something after having their noses rubbed, nightly, in ignorant TV shows like “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” or Black Entertainment Television (BET) shows; that feature the homes and cars of wealthy Blacks or the raw, unadulterated, gaudy, disgusting Hollywood red carpet. “Who are you wearing?”
Instead of going after a soft target like poor Blacks, it is more appropriate to go after the criminal U.S. government. If voting would set us free, it would be illegal and liberation will never be on the ballot. We need to be highlighting the fact that this government disenfranchised the vote of at least a million Blacks in the 2000 presidential election and the 2004 election was stolen in cyberspace through rigged electronic voting machines. No one can say, with certainty, that it wasn’t.
We need to oppose the thrust of the U.S. to take over the whole world by violently cornering and controlling all the oil in the world. We also, need to oppose its domestic aspect —the fascist “Patriot Acts,” the fascist-police state “homeland security” measures. The main point of which is to hold down dissent, protest and rebellion at home; while they carry out a different looking, yet, Nazi type foreign policy.
So, instead of blaming the victims, the blame should be placed squarely on the heads of those who red-line us at the banks when we apply for loans or those who gouge the poor in the most, criminal way with payday loans, car title loans, and the outright “legalized” criminality of currency exchanges that serve as banks for the poor. These currency exchanges exercise robbery with every single transaction—driving the poor deeper and deeper into the hole.
Even those who have jobs cannot escape the vicious cycle of the currency exchange because most never have enough in the bank to cover their pay checks. Then the banks, even the black banks, carryout highway robbery through the fees they charge to cash a check, with all the humiliating finger printing and everything short of a rectal exam.
Many who jump out to support the outrageous view point of Bill Cosby say “we all have a choice.” We didn’t have a choice in coming over here packed in the belly of slave ships like sardines. We didn’t have a choice to work for free for hundreds of years providing the wealth which has been passed down as surely as the fallout from slavery has been passed down.
We didn’t have a choice in all the years of the terrible brutality of “Jim Crow,” and massive land-grab schemes. Even the Black farmers across the South who have been able to hang onto their land have been crushed by huge, multi-national, agri-business corporations; that flood the environment, and a silent populace, with their poisonous biogenetically engineered foods and have rendered the small farms impotent in the market place.
Have we chosen the incredible disparity between Blacks and Whites relative to infant mortality and life expectancy? Have we chosen the great disparity between Blacks and Whites relative to deaths from breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and many other curable illnesses?
We have endured massive, exploitative, insurance schemes. Today there is the lottery and “the boat” (floating gambling casinos) where many of the poor gamble away their hard earned dollars in the hope that by some twist of fate they can escape the cycle of misery.
In this, those apologists for Bill Cosby and the system he wants us to assimilate into so badly, say surely you have a choice in throwing your money away on “the boat.” Well in a sense, this is true. But, for a people who are faced with such an endless flood of discrimination and every possible form of running, historical exploitation and oppression, it is virtually beyond the pale of human endurance not to do something to ease such pain.
To ease the pain, some fall victim to drugs, the chemical warfare that is waged against the people, for some it is gambling a small part of the economic warfare that is waged against the people, and for many it is religion, the psychological warfare—the opiate of the people, where in our communities there is a church on nearly every corner in which millions of poor people spend their hard earned dollars in worship of a god in the very image of the slave master; which teaches millions to turn the other cheek, study war no more, get yours in the sweet bye and bye and today it’s no matter what, the battle is not yours, it’s the lord’s. We need to make a radical departure from this kind of thinking.
A few “modern” churches have Black Jesus, African clothes, discuss the oppressive system, and have put what appears to be a revolutionary slant on things. Yet, none thoroughly oppose, fundamentally, the system of exploitation. Don’t get mad with me; but in addition to binding the people to metaphysical “other worldly” methods of solving worldly problems, the vast majority of these churches fill the people with greasy, fat-filled greens, deep fried (traditional from slavery) illness producing foods—not to mention all the hard-core sugar and salt. Where is the love? Backward caps, sagging pants and “bad” English figure very small in this sordid mix.
Finally, on the issue of parenting, when we begin to look at things right side up, we will see that the worse parents are not so much the poor, uneducated, disenfranchised people so much as rich parents like George Herbert Walker Bush, forty first President of the United States, ex CIA Chief and his wife Barbara Bush. They have spawned at least two sons that are among the worse that humanity has to offer, for all time.
Their sons George W. Bush and Jeb Bush, have been governors of the two states in the U.S.—Texas and Florida; which have had the largest prison populations, the largest numbers on death row and the largest number of executions. They have been overseers of some of the worse crimes against humanity in human history.
Collectively, they have been involved in the most blatantly criminal acts relative to two stolen presidential elections of George W. Bush. One of their sons, George W. Bush has launched a criminal pre-emptive war against a small “Third World Country,” Iraq, spending billions of dollars that could be used to relieve human need and have caused the loss of countless innocent lives.
When we look at the trail of death, destruction and crimes against humanity, left by these two sons, when history is judging bad parents, surely these parents will be right up there with the parents of Attila the Hun and Hitler.
Many a poor Black parent, for economic reasons, has been unable to receive an adequate education.
Throughout our history in America, obstacles to education, have been placed in the path of Blacks—from the illegality of reading under slavery, to goons violently forcing black school children back onto plantations under the “Black Codes” and “Jim Crow.”
Bill Cosby makes statements like: “These people marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education and now we’ve got these knuckleheads walking around.” He’s right when he says “these people” in this case, because even though Bill was around during this era, while we were out there storming the previously forbidden domains of white supremacy, going to jail and getting terrorized by pigs and white goons, Bill Cosby was not there!!!
Bill Cosby is a classic example of someone who made it big by not rocking the boat—by making white people laugh with innocuous, stupid, humor like “why is there air—for blowing up basketballs” and such crap. His legacy is making families like the Huckstables, from The Cosby Show, who like Cosby, reflect the value system of those who have “made it” and basically, neglect or demean the plight of the vast majority of those who have not.
He has, over the years, made so many negative comments about the people’s comedians for cursing. This is indicative of some profound self-hatred and complete identification with the folkways, mores and world view of the exploiters, on the part of Bill Cosby. The thrust to not cuss is simply Bourgeois morality.
To blame the victims like Cosby is doing, is unacceptable; when those who have enslaved us have created a running, evolving chain of obstacles in every single aspect of American life, for centuries.
Are we to accept and forever attempt to assimilate into a system that has always relegated Blacks to the worse schools, with the worse books and learning tools, the worse content relative to our needs and the worse opportunity, if you do graduate?
Even today, recent studies have compared the sprawling university-like high schools in the suburbs of Chicago to the prison-like, metal detected, pathetic, poorly equipped schools for Blacks in the inner city.
Whenever issues of the failing education system come up, there are those like Bill Cosby, who have access to powerful means to influence public opinion, who jump up to blame the parents. I DEMAND of you, how can they give their children what they themselves do not have?
Bill Cosby has become what he has mocked. Those in the Black community, who have become educated, are more to blame for dropping the ball than those who have not become educated. Years ago people expected those who went off to college to come back and up-lift those who couldn’t make it to college—to enlighten and free the down trodden.
The revolutionary trick, however, is not to come back from college perpetuating the system of capitalist exploitation and oppression. A good and true message to bring back is that we can never get freedom under the existing system. Those who say we can, divide into two. They are either un-informed or they are a lying part of the problem.
Being educated, well-off, or even wealthy does not condemn someone to the enemy camp, but it is one’s outlook, worldview—a question of whether one supports the class interest of the rich or the class interest of the working class and the poor.
Regarding “Hooked on Phonics,” it’s too bad that a good education has to be based on private money or the lack thereof, but that is just one more reason, among thousands, why capitalism must go. Gateway, the producer of “Hooked on Phonics,” is so profit driven that they have, (since Cosby’s May 2004 speech) broken their own privacy promises and have been selling the private information of purchasers of “Hooked on Phonics.”
As far as education is concerned, this rich society has all the resources necessary to deliver an all-around, deep and thorough education for the vast majority of children in this society, within public institutions and without regard to homework.
This system has the resources to prepare teachers and thousands and thousands of institutions to educate children exceedingly well. This rich system has the resources to employ the best experts in the world to educate our children, in every area of human endeavor. To blame parents, who for the most part are not prepared for this task, is an excuse for the abuse and neglect of the system, and is the lowest form of scape-goating.
I have a degree in education from one of those Black colleges. Back in the day, I just happen to have made the highest score on the National Teachers Exam in the history of my university. It is clear that there is nothing in the education of an educator that teaches one to put down the student—to tell them how bad and messed-up they are. Anyone, with an advanced degree in education, like Cosby, should know this.
I worked in the youth movement for at least 40 years. I have seen countless situations in which money or the lack thereof, keeps kids out of school or they can’t concentrate when they get there or they don’t have needed supplies or their life’s experiences automatically engender behavior problems, or mental or emotional illness, learning disabilities or perceived learning disabilities, malnutrition and/or obesity or lead poisoning or asthma, bad eyes and no glasses and on and on and on.
In the worse capitalist tradition of haves against have-nots, the lack of “acceptable” clothing often draws such derision from the peers of young people, that it is enough to drive many children from school. Even many teachers abuse and neglect the poorer children sometimes unintentionally, and actually create behavior problems.
Historically, education, from the one room school, to the Normal School, to all the schools established under the Rosenwald Fund (Howard, Fisk, Tuskegee, etc.) and every last Historically Black College and University has served to teach the people to think, walk, act, dress, smell, and talk like the ruling class—to perpetuate their system—to defend our own slave chains. Students were killed in the sixties trying to make these universities relevant to the masses.
The problem is that the profit-driven system of capitalism has no need to educate our children in a meaningful way. Our task is to smash this system and replace it with one that is driven by the needs of people—a system that wants our youth to know everything about everything.
When we study revolution, we find that there are two kinds of contradictions. There are contradictions among the people and contradictions between the people and the enemy. We freedom fighters must go to any lengths in lovingly and patiently explaining things to the “people”—in educating them in non-ruling class ideas, in revolution.
When it comes to contradictions between the people and the enemy, we must harbor no illusions about the thorough-going, organized, armed violence that must be carried out against them if we are to ever enjoy true freedom. Bill Cosby has one foot in the camp of the enemy and the other foot on a banana peel.
Finally on Education, we need “after school, schools” that provide the people, young and old, with a real education—an education that teaches us everything from elementary to advanced forms of reading, writing, math, natural forms of energy, to organic gardening, to sub-atomic particle physics, to Object Oriented Analysis. We need an education that teaches us how to make a successful revolution, keep exploiting classes from returning to power and how to achieve the bright future that we can have without the ruling class and its lackeys.
This whole issue about guns needs to be examined in a serious new light, considering the quote by Mao after Lenin, “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Our oppressors use guns as one of the key ways that they have held us, and most of the rest of the world in subjugation for centuries. Believe you me. The fact that the Bush Administration lifted the ban on assault weapons has nothing to do with drug dealers or petty gangsters in the ghetto. It is designed to arm the reactionary, civilian, social base of the right-wing with assault weapons.
Why is it so axiomatic that a Black man should not have a gun? A better more intelligent plan would be to arm all oppressed people and to educate them as to who the guns should be pointed at and why. We will need guns to do away with guns. All of human history has taught us that ruling classes will not give up their power without a struggle.
This in no way means that a hand full of armed heroes should run out there like a “cabbage” (all head and no ass), and take on the awesome might of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. More to the point is that these armed forces are comprised of the working class and the poor who are brain-washed into defending their own slave chains and suppressing and killing their class brothers, domestically and around the world. The task, then, is to educate these forces on their true class interests and to turn these guns on real enemies—the oppressors and exploiters of the world.
When the system of exploitation and oppression is totally crushed there will be no need for guns.
What teenager can’t hide something from the most concerned, involved parent? Before we get free there’ll come a time when parents and children will help each other hide weapons. It will become less important to hide a pistol from your parents than it will be from reactionaries like Cosby because surely, the Cosby’s of the world will run and tell “Massa.”
LANGUAGE AND CULTURE
Cosby: “They’re standing on the corner and they can’t even speak English. I can’t even talk the way these people talk: ‘Why you ain’t, Where you is,’…and I blamed the kid until I heard the Mother talk. And then I heard the father talk…Everybody knows its important to speak English except these knuckle heads…You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth.!”
Under the current system in the U.S. you can’t be a doctor if you speak English better than the Queen of England and have excellent grades, if you have no money. The constant assaults on affirmative action and other forms of aid, have denied thousands of poor students who are qualified to be doctors. Let’s get angry about this.
A more appropriate response would be to get angry because these Black people can’t even speak Swahili, Bantu, Hausa, or Yoruba, or other African languages that were so ignominiously stripped from their fore-bears by the imposers of English.
There is only one positive and revolutionary way to look at English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and the other languages of those who have imposed them on the world through slavery and colonization. We must view them as avenues of communication between those oppressed people who before had no common language.
They have un-intentionally united us through language. We must view these languages as powerful tools for the world-wide overthrow of capitalism and imperialism. Yea, it’s true, these cultural crimes happened a long time ago but we must never forget them. In fact, we need to be about the business of constantly adding them up.
Everywhere the expanding Western European powers went from the 14 and 1500s on, under force of arms, they sought to destroy all other cultures and to impose their own. In the English speaking world, they saturated the brains of the people beginning with Victorian nursery rhymes—Little Boy Blue, Peter Pumpkin Eater, cows jumping over the moon and more. This type of cultural hegemony exists from Kindergarten right through to advanced university degrees.
In the case of the Atlantic Slave Trade, the effect of this centuries old brainwashing has been especially thorough, pernicious and lasting. Its depth is readily apparent in the case of Bill Cosby in which fame, fortune, and even an advanced degree in Education cannot remove it. Further, anyone with an advanced degree in Education should be able to make clear statements and not leave the people holding the bag—trying to interpret what we think he means.
Further, still, the road to freedom will be paved with clear, precise calculations of social phenomena, featuring scientific understanding of the problems and the solutions. For freedom, our statements will need to reflect this type of understanding.
Cosby‘s diatribe about the speech and behavior of poor Blacks on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Brown v the Board of Education, is an abomination and is, in light of the people’s march toward total emancipation from exploitation and oppression, a criminal act.
The way people speak and act has a great deal to do with geographical, sociological, and economical considerations. If you’re born in France you’ll probably speak French. Even then, there is the French of the rich and the French of the poor. If you’re born into a rich family in the U.S. you’ll probably speak “standard English.” But even, “standard English” is a dialect. It just happens to be the dialect of the elite. The way that poor Blacks speak is not a crime but is, in fact, the result of what they have been exposed to—their particular socialization into society.
The expanding European powers, one and all, have used the extent to which their subjects speak the European language well, as a measure of the intelligence of the subject. Bill Cosby reminds me of many Black teachers in the South in the 50s when integration appeared to be approaching. They would constantly say things like, “y'all ain’t ready to be with white folks.”
Those “knuckleheads” standing on the corners and those “poor-speaking” parents and children are probably a part of the so called “under class” in America that (through no fault of their own) have not had the advantage of attending the Black colleges which have been so richly endowed by Bill Cosby. Everything has a history and few humans would choose to stand on the corner all day over meaningful options.
Our mission is not to see how clean and proper and articulately we can fatten ourselves for the slaughter of capitalist exploitation. The problem is not that youth wear their hats backward or their pants sagging. Wearing a hat backward is fine. Don’t be such a hater of self, just because “Massa” thinks it’s cool to wear it his way. Believe me when I tell you, we will never, ever find freedom until we learn to do many, many things the opposite of the way that “Massa” does them.
The sagging pants thing came out of the prisons where belts are taken away. All too many of our precious youth get to experience prison these days. Every generation does things—has fads that seem unacceptable to previous generations. Anyway, why do I care how another man wears his pants? The crimes perpetrated by the ruling class should be the focus. Our mission should be to see how fast and thoroughly we can crush the system of exploitation—not to become the new exploiters but to get rid of exploitation. The revolutionary formula is: AS WE CHANGE THE WORLD WE CHANGE OURSELVES.
Cosby: “With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail.”
Flash-back with me for a moment to Alex Haley’s “Roots” and remember the wanton cruelty imposed by the slave master in converting the main character’s African name, Kunta Kinte, into the European name, Toby.
For a people whose names have been brutally ripped away in slavery and the names of the slave master viciously imposed, I applaud people who have chosen names other than the names of their tormentors and have selected names of their choosing. This is a wonderful form of rejection of cultural hegemony, whether those who do it understand it or not. Shaniqua and Taliqua are just as valid as Nancy and Maud and actually sound better. Are these names bad because poor Blacks selected them?
It is misguided to think that European names had a different type of derivation than Shaniqua and Taliqua. Could you believe that they were made-up, too?
Mohammed is the name of the founder of the Islamic religion? Mohammed is one of the most influential men in human history. Many “Africans in America” have chosen to follow Islam and have, therefore, chosen names associated with this religion, like Mohammed.
When you call names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed crap (which if I’m not mistaken means shit) this is not only a slap in the face to probably millions of black mothers, who are perfectly honorable, but these comments insult millions of Islamic people. Many Islamic people are actually violently offended by such comments about Mohammad. Bill, be sure you don’t draw any cartoons about Mohammed.
These comments, on names, by Mr. Cosby, unmistakably reflect self-hatred, in deference to love of European culture. With out a doubt, this is a clear case of down with non-European things, and up with things approved by “Massa.” Think about it!
THE CLASS CONTENT OF COSBY’S COMMENTS
Throughout the annals of Western European expansion and the rise of capitalism, a major ingredient in the ability of the capitalists to exploit a people, has been the need to create a buffer class from among the oppressed—a Petty Bourgeoisie, a better-off group to keep the masses in check, ground down—waiting lambs for the slaughter. The role of this buffer class is to administrate over, and educate the masses in the ways of the rich, master class.
This buffer class lionizes the folkways and mores—the culture of the rich class and demeans the culture of the poor, the downtrodden—the people. The buffer aspect of the Petty Bourgeoisie is that they stand ideologically, politically and if need be physically between the people and the ruling class. They want to be like “Massa” so much that they will “do something” to the people to keep us from cracking the head or getting at the throat of “Massa.” Further, they serve as the ever present example of “I made it so why can’t you.” Bill Cosby epitomizes this boot-licking kind of role.
But, some say, “hasn’t Bill Cosby contributed a great amount of money to black colleges and, therefore, earned the right to say what he wants about the ignorant Blacks that he’s trying so hard to help. After all, he came from nothing and pulled himself up by his own boot straps. He is one of us.” Others have said that everyone was thinking what Cosby said but afraid to say it.
Bill Cosby is one of us if you look at things through racial eyes, but from a class perspective he is not. We can only solve our collective problem through class analysis and we are well on our way as we separate ourselves from Black reactionaries (counter-revolutionaries) like Clarence Thomas, Armstrong Williams, "Condi" Rice, Colen Powell, and others, but we must mature even further and faster.
Some people feel that Bill is just expressing “his” opinion. But, every opinion is stamped with the brand of a particular class. In Bill Cosby’s case, his comments are stamped with the brand of the rich class. After reading articles from around the country on his comments, we find that most journalists have agreed with him and others have mildly disagreed with some of his comments.
A co-host, on a Friday morning talk show, on WVON radio in Chicago, thought that Cosby should get an award for his comments.
On July 1, 2004, at the 33rd Annual Rainbow/Push Coalition & Citizenship Education Fund’s Conference, in Chicago, which featured Bill Cosby and a tidal wave of “coonage” and ruling class mouth pieces (Bill Clinton and John Kerry) one man, the head of all the city colleges in Chicago, thought that Bill Cosby should be Secretary of Education under a possible John Kerry Presidential Administration.
At the Brown v Board commemoration, Bill Cosby said that the dropout rate for Black youth was 50 percent. While we must also watch them like a hawk, the National Center for Education Statistics says that in the last year, for which statistics are available, 2000, the dropout rate was 13.1 percent for African American children. At the Rainbow/Push Conference, the president of Malcolm X College believed Bill Cosby’s, off the top of his head, 50 percent statistic, and is running backward with this figure. This is a sad, sick chain of coonage.
The genocide that Blacks on Planet Earth face is so severe; that we cannot afford to let skin color blur the line between real enemies and real friends. This does not mean that all of the Black people spoken about in this paper are real enemies but that their thinking must change. If we develop class consciousness and learn the vital interests of each class in capitalist society, freedom from exploitation and oppression will not be far behind.
Eyesight analysis tells us that we have been enslaved as a race, segregated as a race, and exploited as a race. On the face of it, all this is true. But when we look at the situation under the microscope of revolutionary science, we find that eyesight analysis will not be adequate to overturn the mighty mountain of capitalist and imperialist subjugation. It can, however, be overthrown.
Looking at things through racial eyes, believe me when I tell you, we will be hoodwinked and bamboozled again and again and again. With working class science, we can finally solve the problems of exploitation and oppression. Who, in the world, has more of a working class history than Blacks in America?
Many ape the mantras of the class of men like Cosby “let me get rich so I can provide some jobs.” We don’t need benefactors or sugar daddies of any nationality. What we need is a society that meets the needs of all people as a matter of course. No wealth is produced without labor. Who wants to exchange White exploiters for Black exploiters? The correct path is to get rid of exploitation.
If we use class analysis of the conditions and events in society, right away, we have a science on our side that has been hammered out through the blood, sweat and tears of freedom fighters around the world. We don’t need to re-invent the wheel. We just need to learn to apply existing knowledge to our objective condition and build upon that.
In European expansion (which continues today) and the rise of capitalism, slavery and colonization the Europeans seized the world, essentially, using machine guns against the spears (literally or figuratively) of the various peoples of the world. We can no longer afford to use this model of: them having the machine guns and us having the spears. We cannot use this model ideologically, philosophically or militarily.
Clearly, we will need to use more advanced science than they use. We will need to master class struggle—Dialectical Materialism—Marxism, Leninism, Maoism, Reed thought; which will sharpen our struggle ideologically, philosophically and militarily. If we study and learn to apply the science of revolution, we can achieve total emancipation from the system of exploitation and oppression. The science of revolution will give us the tools we need to wage and win the revolution, through all its twists and turns—in its changing nature.
Kwame Nkrumah wrote Class Struggle in Africa because as soon as they drove the White colonialist out of Ghana, black Africans jumped right up to take their places. Understanding the nature of the various classes in capitalist society and revolutionary science, provides relief from all the crutches that this society forces people into—the drugs and alcohol, “the boat,” the religion, the bling-bling and all the other forms of escape from reality. The hope resides in consciously understanding the world and consciously working and fighting to change the world. AS WE CHANGE THE WORLD WE CHANGE OURSELVES.
We have learned from the study of revolution, that no matter how much we have done for the people we must never become arrogant. We have learned further that we revolutionaries are like oxen for our backs to be ridden by the people. That’s our job for which we ask no thanks.
So, Bill Cosby has given millions to Black colleges and universities. Under capitalism, for the rich, “philanthropy” is often a tax write-off proposition. Even if Mr. Cosby gave his last dime to Black colleges, since the first whites came south after the Civil War in the U. S. to educate the poor, ignorant “Negroes,” the function of American education has been to train the populace to maintain and extend the wealth and power of the ruling class.
Bill Cosby’s comments let the ruling class, the perpetrators, completely off the hook. In my view, these comments constitute a MAJOR problem. As we say in the revolutionary movement, everything divides into two and so it is with Cosby’s comments. They have divided our community right down the middle between those who agree with Cosby and those who do not.
A very frightening thing has occurred with respect to the Comments of Bill Cosby at the “Commemoration” of the 50th anniversary of Brown VS the Board of Education. The Black Petty Bourgeoisie, the “educated class,” has jumped out, as a class, and has not only co-signed Cosby’s comments but has, subsequently, obliterated his original comments (without examination) as if he said something entirely different from what he actually said.
Many people are not privy to his original comments and Bill is perfectly willing, without apology, to have the petty Bourgeoisie embrace him, based on his “passion” (form over content) or based on comments that he said after his May 17th Constitution Hall comments. There has been no umbrage taken even with the police shooting a Black person in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake comment. This is like putting a bandage on a wound without first treating the infection.
The power of this Petty Bourgeoisie class is significant. It exerts its influence over the universities and colleges, and other classrooms, the print and electronic media, the pulpit, civil rights organizations, the hospitals, the social agencies and more. No matter what type of service the people need, they must go through this Petty Bourgeois army which serves “Massa” and, basically, finds the people disgusting.
They are standing, joined at the hip, as a class, not literally or even consciously, but ideologically. In many cases they are hating on the down trodden youth and blaming the parents. They view the poor class as a hindrance to their ascension into the kingdom of “Massa.” Imagine a poor child going to school day after day, year after year to a school in which he is disapproved of or looked down upon by the vast majority of those in authority. This is the reality.
This Petty Bourgeois class has learned well from a ruling class that has swung far to the right and does dirty deeds around the world; then uses smoke, mirrors, and spin to make these events appear different from the reality. This is why we need revolutionary science so that no one, no one—no matter how rich, or famous, or well educated, or articulate, or “slick out the mouth” can fool us ever again.
Again, this is not so much about Bill Cosby, personally, although, he is almost a billionaire (they say) who concentrates the outlook of the ruling class (I say). This is about an oppressed people who are a part of a global, oppressed class and how they are going to learn the type of outlook, world-view, organization and action that will be needed to smash the old unfair, exploitative, oppressive system and replace it with a system that functions in the interest of all the workers and oppressed of the world.
The crisis, with which we are confronted, is reflective of the types of world-views that people hold. It is reflective of people’s view of history and of how things got to be the way that they are. The debate is on and I submit to you that there are two broad, major world-views.
One world-view is the world-view that Cosby holds. It is the world-view of the rich class, the Bourgeoisie, the ruling class. This world-view features more and greater profits, and more privatization. This reactionary, privatization push is not limited to devastating us, here, through the prisons, education and so forth but it is the device used around the world to destroy any state-owned “production entities” many of which attempt to serve the people.
They brutally force the doors of these countries open (especially in Africa) to Western businesses, multi-national corporations and such, in exchange for life saving/sustaining aid, debt relief and entry into the WTO in the case of China. This drives thousands and thousands of people out of work and more.
The world-view of the ruling class features more police, no unions, no health-care, no benefits, more prisons, less help for the dispossessed, the disabled—more capitalism and imperialism. The same capitalist class that exploits us administrates over a world in which half the people in the world live on under two dollars ($2.00) per day.
This bourgeois world-view is steeped in metaphysics—gods, ghosts, goblins, devils, magic, astrology, and belief in things without proof—on blind unquestionable faith. It believes in the static nature of things in the world, and this encompasses the rule of the rich which the rich believe is un-changeable. It also features criminal wars of plunder and exploitation.
The other world-view is the world-view of the proletariat, the working class, the vast world of slaves and wage slaves. It seeks the opposite of more privatization and that is socialization—ownership of the major means of production by the whole people, not private individuals. It believes in collective economics—cooperatives, collectives, buying clubs, mutual aid, and group ownership.
This world-view wants to take profit out of human society and remake the world based on the needs of people. That is, to appropriate the wealth and resources of the world for the benefit of the vast majority of human kind not just for a few rich individuals.
The world view of this class is to remove the need for people to have to choose between things like heat and medicine, in a world of such plenty. This class wants to remove homelessness in a world of boarded-up buildings—to remove hunger in a world of obvious abundance.
Philosophically, instead of blind faith, the science of the working class is dialectical materialism—the belief in things that can be tested in reality. The science of revolution teaches that things in the world exist because of a struggle and unity of opposites. It is the belief that all things come into being and pass away, including the rule of the rich class. This world view features just wars of freedom and liberation.
In the final analysis, the question is whether we want to bash the people or do we want to bash the slave masters of the world? Do we dare to look beyond the symptoms of things like “undesirable behaviors” of poor Blacks, to the root causes of these things like historical, abusive, exploitation and oppression from the hell of rich-class rule. Do we want to quietly accept things the way that they are and be good little well fed slaves, under the current system; or do we dare to dream and fight for a world free from white supremacy, capitalism and imperialism.
Cosby: “There are no political prisoners…these are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake and then we run out and we are outraged ‘saying’ ‘The cops shouldn’t have shot him.’ ‘What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?”
Since this conversation is kind of “all in the family” and if “America’s dad”, Bill Cosby, can say that, let Uncle Ray Ray say this:
“A better question is why the hell do we need Klansmen and white racists when a Black FOOL, William Cosby, can fix his mouth to say some shit like that?” With the state of police brutality and murder of un-armed black men and women in the U. S. being the epidemic that it is, Bill Cosby must never be forgiven by the people for such comments. Recently, at least 15 Blacks have been murdered by the pigs in Cincinnati, Ohio, alone, in a very short period of time.
Co-signing the police murder of Blacks is the most egregious of all the comments of Bill Cosby at the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs the Board of Education commemoration. The police are at the fore-front of the genocidal assault on Blacks in the U.S.
I feel especially sickened by this comment because I was one of those, here in Chicago, who took to the streets for Leonard Clark, the streets and the courtroom for Jeremiah Mearday, the streets for Latanya Haggerty and Robert Russ, Kenneth Dukes (shot seven times in the back in his mother’s yard) and others brutalized and murdered by the local pigs.
I wonder how a poor mother like the mother of George and Jonathan Jackson would feel about Cosby’s recent comments. Both her sons fought for freedom and died courageously but violently at the hands of the degenerate system under which we live. George Jackson, her older son, wrote the famous 1971 book Soledad Brother, from prison. This book championed freedom fighters and launched a scathing attack on the American system of exploitation and oppression.
On August 7, 1970, in an attempt to free his brother, George Jackson, and other “political prisoners” from prison, the 17 year old younger son, Jonathan Jackson, was brutally gunned down.
George Jackson was gunned down on August 21, 1971, in the California’s San Quentin Prison yard. The claim was that he had a gun hidden in his afro. Jonathan Jackson Jr., like Fred Hampton Jr., was conceived, yet, un-born when his father was killed. Jonathan Jackson Jr. re-issued his Uncle George’s book, Soledad Brother, in 1994.
Before he died, this is what George Jackson had to say on page 237 of Soledad Brother, about Bill Cosby.
“Black capitalism, black against itself. The silliest contradiction in a long train of spineless, mindless contradictions. Another painless, ultimate remedy: be a better fascist than the fascist. Bill Cosby, acting out the establishment agent—what message was this soul brother conveying to our children? I Spy was certainly programmed to a child’s mentality. This running dog in the company of a fascist with a cause, a flunky’s flunky, was transmitting the credo of the slave to our youth, the mod version of the old house nigger. We can never learn to trust as long as we have them. They are as much a part of the repression, more even than the real live, rat-informer-pig. Aren’t they telling our kids that it’s romantic to be a running dog? The kids are so hungry to see the black male do some shooting and throw some hands that they can’t help themselves from identifying with the quilsing. So first they turn us against ourselves…..”
Further from Soledad Brother, page 246—“We’re going to have to start all over again. This next time around we’ll let it all hang out, we’ll stop betraying ourselves, and we’ll add some trust and love.
I do not include those who support capitalism in any appreciable degree or who feel they have something to lose with its destruction. They are our irreconcilable enemy. We can never again trust people like Cosby, Gloves Davis, or the black Chicago policeman who was reported to have shot Fred Hampton…..Any man who stands up in defense of capitalism must be slapped down.”
Bill Cosby’s 2004 comments are so dangerous because on April 23, 2004, a Black man, Roy Veal, was found hanging in Wilkinson County, Mississippi, the childhood home of Jefferson Davis—President of the slave-holding Confederate States. Cosby’s comments are dangerous because on June 24, 2004, a Black man, Stanley Miller, was caught on video tape being brutalized by Los Angeles pigs. Even though the lynching took place before the Cosby speech, in question, Bill Cosby’s comments still open the flood gates for this kind of violence against Blacks.
First of all, everything is political; therefore, every black man woman and child in prison in the U.S. is a political prisoner. It’s political when blacks are forced into the underground economy. It’s political when white people in the U.S. do most of the drugs and black people do most of the time.
The problems our youth face are manifold but they themselves did not create these problems. They had neither boat nor plane to bring in the tons of drugs that devastate our communities throughout every city in the U. S.—north or south, big or small.
The political brutality, the social brutality, the economic brutality and the police brutality came first. The underground economy, ribald rap lyrics, and anti-social behaviors, in general, came as by-product of the historical and current abuse and neglect, of the people, by the rich-class power structure. The nature and breadth of the anti-social and negative behaviors of Black youth, today, were unknown to African society prior to the Atlantic Slave Trade and its aftermath. We are not our own worse enemy!!!
A few blacks like Bill Cosby have managed to escape to the upper ranks of society but this is by design as much as the abuse and neglect of the masses is by design.
Our children are inundated with never ending visual and auditory images which do them no good, images that promote all kinds of negative behaviors, in an all around way—not the least of which is a skinning, grinning, shuffling Bill Cosby promoting that poisonous Coca Cola and Jello Pudding.
There is a definite, political relationship between poverty and certain types of crime. However, in this country, it is well documented that blacks face harsher penalties for the same crimes for which whites get slapped on the wrist. This is very political.
The handkerchief heads, like Cosby, need to focus on the real knuckle heads like Bush and Cheney, and Rumsfeld and Kissinger, and Rice, and Wolfowitz, and Powell and Ashcroft and Gonzalez, and Pickering, and Negroponte and their rich masters. These are your real gang-bangers; who create the conditions for mini-gang-banging in our communities. They are global gangsters and they do fly-bys instead of drive-bys. And you know what else? A knuckle head on the corner is not nearly as bad as a Sambo.
We need to get angry with a government that spends billions and billions of dollars, and innocent lives, in a pre-emptive war, for oil, against a small country, Iraq, that was no threat to the U.S. There is no point on the globe that the avaricious tentacles of the U.S. monster do not reach. How could they possibly not be imperialist with over 700 military bases around the world and counting, and 5 trillion dollars in overseas investment?
We should get angry with a government that squanders over a $billion of our hard earned tax dollars, eulogizing the perfectly, devilish pig, Ronald Ragan, and millions more to convince us that he was a good man. This is why we need revolution—to use these kinds of resources to stamp out disease, and poverty, and homelessness and general human need.
It is true that the European conquerors have established systems in which it would behoove those who wish to succeed in these systems to ape the speech, dress, behavior, the humor and the very essence of the rulers. It’s also true that we need jobs. But any oppressed man or woman worth their salt, with a modicum of intelligence and self-respect, has to hope and fight for a world in which our red, white and blue, rulers, the marauders of the world, are not in charge. How long, how long will it be before we make a break with their criminal system? Damn!!!
It is ok to add-up the crimes of America from the virtual extermination of Native Americans and the perfectly horrible enslavement of African people. It is ok to outright reject the historical and international crimes of U.S. imperialism from Haiti, to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Santo Domingo, Cuba to Africa, to all the Caribbean and Mexico and the rest of Central and South America. Currently they are waging an illegal war in Iraq, Afghanistan and an ever widening web of intrigue, threats, destruction and murder. The U.S. crimes in Iraq are no worse than the crimes of U.S. imperialism historically and internationally.
It is high time that we stop calling this us—co-signing this human carnage. We have to stop walking in lock-step with U. S. imperialism, the worse enemies of humanity in history. The U. S reign of terror has lasted for centuries and has caused the death of at least 24 million African slaves on the ocean alone. You know the story.
We must let no one, no matter how rich or famous, convince us that U.S. imperialism and it’s culture is a good thing. It is an entrenched culture of violence that has enslaved, demeaned, debauched, exploited and oppressed people of color, as a matter of course, for centuries. The rich class has, basically, done the same to most whites but most of them are on lockdown behind the bars of race/class confusion. We cannot let defeated men like Bill Cosby convince us that we can’t beat them so let’s join them.
Cosby truly believes that our only hope is to assimilate with those who have never ceased to enslave, humiliate, exploit and oppress us. We have got to continue to conceive and fight to get their boots off our necks—for a world without exploitation and oppression.
Put the blame on a system that remands blacks to the federal and privatized prison system where most of the modern-day slavery occurs, and everything is harsher. Whites, when they are incarcerated, are more frequently put in state and local confinement, where everything is easier. Instead of blaming the victims blame a massive system of bailing out economically depressed rural areas with thousands and thousands of black and brown prisoners.
Whose kidding whom when companies are getting rich from prison laundry concessions, jacked up telephone charges, riches are being derived from prison construction and more from prison maintenance. Wall Street underwriters are getting rich from their involvement in the largest growth industry in the country, the prison industry. Our young men and women are the cannon fodder in this scheme.
Are we just bad people? Everything has a history and we were not like whatever they claim we are like when we came over here from Africa. Everywhere you look in the inner-cities you see our kids bent over police cars with these racist fools humiliating and dehumanizing them—going through their pockets, and talking abusively to them. These are the ones who have done nothing but driving or walking while Black.
There is massive prosecutorial misconduct, to the detriment of Black and Brown people, in this country. There is incredible disparity between justice for the rich and poor. Some say the question is “how much justice can you afford.” Everything is political!
Like a good, little apologist for the system, Bill Cosby has the unmitigated gall to say “stop blaming the White man.” What could be more of a reactionary ruling class comment and concept than this? Stop blaming the white man?!!!
Blaming the blame- worthy in no way implies inactivity or unwillingness to fight back as many Black people assert, today. If we can’t identify the minutest blame-worthy offences, it will be impossible to formulate an effective plan of attack because we don’t know what it is that we don’t like—what we have to change.
It is not so much a question of “blaming the white man” as it is constantly adding up the entire continuum that comprises exploitation and oppression. The perpetrators of the continuum of exploitation and oppression are people and most of them are white. However, this does not include all white people. Some of the perpetrators come from all nationalities and many of them are Black. Herein resides the crucial nature of grasping which class people stand for, represent—fight for, regardless of their nationality.
The perpetrators of exploitation and oppression, must not only be blamed but must be steam-rolled over and swept into the dust bin of history. Revolutionary science helps us distinguish between revolutionary and backward ideas without regard to skin color.
It is useful to understand, that if we all got civil rights under the current system, it would be on the backs of suffering people elsewhere in the world. History has brought us to the point where the people must become armed with the tools that are needed to turn on this system with righteous fire-storms of world-wide revolution. The only hope of the hopeless is to overthrow capitalism and imperialism, world-wide and remake society in the interest of the masses, not the rich.
Will we follow the Bill Cosby’s of the world deeper into the bloody jaws of the tired, old system of exploitation and oppression, or will we stand up and lead the millions around the world who suffer at the hands of this system, to freedom.
We don’t need black entrepreneurship (that hot-bed of capitalism) so much as we need an explosion of co-opts, collectives, buying clubs, mutual aid societies in every area of our lives. We need co-opts that produce, purchase, preserve, and distribute food. We need co-opts that repair the vast world of wasted tools, computers and appliances in the U.S. We need auto repair co-pts, electronic repair co-opts, clothes-making co-opts, education and child care co-opts, elder care co-opts and so forth.
We can only face the massive economic assaults from outside our communities through pooling our resources, through group economics—socialist ideas. We need an explosion of Socialist ideas like those embodied in the revolution in Grenada. One fisherman said: “I have a boat but no net” the other one said “I have a net but no boat.”
We must do all this; while keeping the political struggle in 1st place—the struggle for a republic free from capitalism, imperialism, white supremacy, male chauvinism—and free from all forms of exploitation and oppression of humans by humans.
These commentaries have been a sort of “all in the Black family” discussion. While the problem is often couched in black-face, the solution resides in Internationalism. To win, our movement has to mature beyond non-scientific slogans like “charity begins at home” and such; which mean to go it alone, as a people. We must get beyond the few haters or misinformed in each nationality, and shatter the time honored tactic of the ruling class, to divide and conquer the millions, world-wide, that it exploits.
We must fight for and win a society in which men don’t dominate over women—where human relations, art, science are not based on money.
In the Black community, in the U.S., many of us have the resources to learn the languages of the oppressed peoples of the world, and to carry this struggle around and throughout the world. It is a good thing to be steadfast in uniting and tirelessly working to convince other nationalities of the power and need for international unity against capitalism and imperialism.
We are not alone and we must no longer be convinced that we are. The ruling class is working overtime to prevent the rise of another superpower. Little do they know, we are the world’s other superpower when we become armed with revolutionary consciousness?
Let’s overthrow all forms of exploitation and oppression of humans by humans. One last thing—Bill Cosby is not funny!
FREEDOM IN OUR LIFETIME!!!
© Lee Roy Rouge 2006