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Was Bill Cosby Right?

June 3, 2004

(archived broadcast )
Comedian Bill Cosby has declined to retract remarks that were highly critical of “the lower economic” African Americans that he claims are willing to pay $500 for sneakers but not half that amount for educational tools. The comments speak for themselves:
“I’m talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange (prison jump) suit. Where were you when he was two? Where were you when he was 12? Where were you when he was 18 and how come you don’t know he had a pistol?”
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“Five, six children — same woman — eight, 10 different husbands or whatever. Pretty soon you are going to have DNA cards to tell who you are making love to. You don’t know who this is. It might be your grandmother. I am telling you, they’re young enough!”
“I can’t even talk the way these people talk: ‘Why you ain’t, where you is’…I don’t know who these people are. And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. It’s all in the house. You used to talk a certain way on the corner and when you got in the house you switched to English. Everybody knows that at some point you switch to English, except these knuckleheads.
“We’re raising our own home-grown immigrants.”
“The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal.”
“These people are not parenting. They are buying things for their 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.”
“We can’t excuse these people.” “There are generations who have been born here and their English is worse than Koreans who have just been here a few years.”
“These are not political criminals. 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?”
“I didn’t say all black people from the lower classes were to blame. But I said that when you have a 50 percent graduation rate, and some people can’t put two sentences together, and can’t write or spell…you’ve got people who have put themselves on a track to failure.”

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  • JANET February 13, 2008 5:34 am

    All of the comments Mr. Cosby made, most are true, but wasn’t his son murdered by a “white” man? Ignorance crosses all boundaries. There are all races with $500 sneakers, and speak incorrect English. Cosby berates his own race, without bringing attention to all other races. Ignorant people comes in all races, not only African American, and lower economy people. You wouldn’t believe how many so called “rich” people couldn’t spell the most easiest words in the English language. This is a human issue, not a BLACK only issue!

  • Diana Dadamo June 15, 2004 9:10 pm

    Thank God for Bill Cosby’s comments. I am a disabled (retired) teacher so I know the worth of every child and I have seen children of all backgrounds succeed at all levels. When I became disabled, I had to live in a very poor neighborhood and it was a shock. Those “$500” sneakers are a reality! Everywhere I look I see children acting irresponsibly, offensively and stupidly, and their parents are fighting for them to be able to do so – as if this was a way to achieve self-pride and respect! The last book store has disaappeared from our neighborhood but we have AT LEAST one nail care place on every major street corner. It is time for the poor of all races to realize that they have all the riches they need – in character, love and potential. And to stop wasting their time on self-pity and hate and instead, get there and live their lives with honor.