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Who Will Take the Baton?

 

By Ambra Nykol

 

The work of Bill Cosby in the entertainment industry is deep and wide. We all know that in addition to his work on television and as a comedian, Cosby has long had a legacy for being a proponent of education.

 

I can't think of one time he didn't appear on the Cosby Show sporting the sweatshirt of some obscure college or university.

 

Two years ago, he shocked the Black establishment with his remarks when he was honored at an NAACP event commemorating the anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision:

 

“Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids – $500 sneakers for what? And won't spend $200 for 'Hooked on Phonics."

 

 "They're standing on the corner and they can't 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 it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. ... You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!"

 

Somebody better preach on that one. Every major societal problem can be traced back to the family. One can imagine this was not the uplifting message on the plight of black people in education NAACP officials were hoping for.

 

You'll be hard-pressed to find much in the news about his comments, but they are being felt throughout the black community and beyond.

 

Perhaps what worries me the most is the fact that Cosby, at age 68, is headed into the last quarter of his life and has yet to fully impart all that is within him to this generation.

 

This is not Cosby's fault. This is our fault. Someone as influential as Mr. Cosby can stand before a group like the NAACP and utter those very words and many will not understand or recognize the significance of the fathering spirit.

 

 

  The Cosby Show: On set with Phylicia Rashad and below with the rest of his TV family

 

I have said for many years that Bill Cosby has not yet walked into the fullness of the respect he deserves as a man of wisdom and experience. This will be to our detriment if we don't take heed to the words our elders speak.

 

We need to shake off this illegitimate child mentality and start receiving those who attempt to speak into our lives. I suppose it is more cyclic than we'd like to think.

 

Many in the black community cannot receive Cosby's words as a father because they themselves have never had a father. And thus, that value of impartation is not recognized or appreciated. Well, that needs to change. Quickly. I fear people will rally around Cosby's words for a while and then once the hype dies down, we'll be back to complacency as usual.

 

One of the areas I've most admired about Mr. Cosby is his commitment to family, but more importantly, his commitment to fatherhood. In the era where the male household figure is predominately portrayed to be a bumbling bafoon of sorts, Bill Cosby has always made sure that anything he put his name on gave fatherhood its due respect and honor.

 

To compare Bill Cosby with any of the current top black comedians is just no match. Cosby is on an entirely different level. To compare the work he's done in the television industry with our modern-day sitcoms is like pitting Muhammad Ali in his prime against Regis Philbin. There's just no match.

 

              

                                 I Robinson, episodio 3.25 - Cerimonia di addio

I would label the work Cosby has done "edutainment". In the days when people are putting mindless filth on the airwaves, I have always appreciated Cosby's attempt at something greater than just entertaining people.

 

One of his most recent ventures includes appearing on Philadelphia schools television to encourage kids and parents to form a partnership with homework. I am encouraged that Cosby is speaking out more in his prime.

 

I believe the years we have left with him are numbered and there is a great wealth of insight he has to offer this generation. I pray we take heed and listen.

 

Ambra Nykol is a columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Soundpolitics.com, Seaspot magazine and Modestly Yours. She owns and blogs at nykola.com

 

Please e-mail comments to comments@thenewblackmagazine.com

 

 

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