Is Bill Cosby Right?

Award Year: 
Michael Eric Dyson
"In May 2004 Cosby delivered a speech at the NAACP Awards in which he said he blamed what he termed the "knuckleheads" of the African American community for poor parenting, poor academic performance, sexual promiscuity and criminal behavior. The audience laughed and applauded. Here, Dyson (humanities, U. of Pennsylvania) comments on both the speech and the reaction, finding a growing cultural divide between the "Afristocracy" (the African American elite and professional classes) and the "Ghettocracy" (the African American poor, working class and incarcerated). He finds evidence of abandonment of the aims of the civil rights movement among the elite, and a growing perception that the poor have no one to blame but themselves, despite obvious, ongoing and vicious racial discrimination in America.