When Bill Cosby, in a speech to the NAACP last May, let fly a merciless condemnation of black illegitimacy, educational apathy, and the idea that white racism causes black social problems, political commentators dropped their jaws. They remained stunned when he vented similar frustration to audiences across the country over the next six months. Sure, "civil rights" advocates have been known, on rare occasions, to criticize self-defeating black behavior, but convention requires that after briefly denouncing, say, black-on-black crime (as if black-on-white crime would be okay), the "leader" should turn his attention to the racial injustice that allegedly causes such crime and harp on that for the next year or so. This Cosby refused to do. "It's not what [the white man] is doing to you; it's what you're not doing," he thundered in Detroit.
The reaction of black audiences was just as unexpected. Rather than take offense, they waited hours in line, in blistering heat and freezing cold, to hear Cosby deliver his impassioned plea for bourgeois behavior.
Cosby's tough-love campaign foundered in January, when a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her the previous year; he denied the charge, but has not been heard from since. No need to wait for him to find his voice again, however. Dozens of grassroots black conservatives have been delivering the same message of personal responsibility--in as electrifying a fashion--for years without generating a glimmer of interest from the press. Routinely denounced as pariahs and race-traitors, they nevertheless believe that they are speaking for the silent majority of blacks. Now that Cosby has exposed the untapped audience for straight talk, maybe the media will finally pay attention to these unknown iconoclasts. Nothing would help black Americans more than for the mainstream press to give such honesty and hard-won wisdom the respect it deserves.
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