Open Letter to Bill Cosby: Is this what you really wanted
In 2004, Bill Cosby gave a speech where he spoke candidly about the African American community. I agree with a lot of what he said. However, recently, many conservative and racists groups have been passing around that speech as a justification for their stereotypes of all poor blacks. Here is a letter I sent to Dr. Cosby. You can read his speech here:
Dear Mr. Cosby,
I'm a huge fan of yours and I want to thank you for the inspiration you have been to me as a father and as a citizen. I think that your legacy reminds us that African-Americans can be and do anything they want too. However, in 2004 you gave a speech during the 50th anniversary of Brown v. The Board of Education that in many ways I agree with. Yet, many groups on Social Media are now using those words to justify their racism.
As an educator, who has taught in Title I schools for the last 10 years, I find your words to be inadequate where most of my African American and Hispanic students are concerned. I find these families, no matter their circumstances to be mostly hard working honest people who do parent their children. They do care about their children's education. I teach at a school with 3000 children and 5% of those students are the children that you were speaking about. That does not matter to those hate groups who are now using your words to denigrate an entire generation of poor people. They don't see that poor white people also stand on the corner and don't speak proper English. That poor whites go to prison and commit murders. They don't see people like Muhammad Ali and Dr. Shaquille O'neal who have made their mark on society and who came from meager backgrounds. All they see is that an iconic black man agrees with their ideas of all African American poor.
I'm not asking you to change anything about what you said, but I am saying that your words have become one of those stones that you mentioned that so many were attacked with to win our freedoms.
Education is the key to unlocking our children's future. Most of the black and Hispanic kids I teach English everyday live with parents who work all day and want to provide that key to their children for success, however, your words are now allowing groups to justify their racist beliefs towards these hard working parents. These beliefs, like black dialect, have been passed down from their parents.
One of my jobs is that of an academic basketball and football coach. My job is to make sure that young men and women are going to class and that they have the foundation to do better things--that my players can write a paragraph when they go to college. Yet, I have colleagues who use your words to justify why these children in their classes can't learn instead of trying to teach them.
We have a long way to go in the black community. I admire your work toward that end. I just needed to express my exasperation at the use of your speech to denigrate an entire community. Not all kids who speak in black dialect are stupid or criminals. Not all students who sag their pants or listen to rap are pimps.
Thank you again for your legacy and your life's work. I just had to express my frustration. I look forward to hearing from you.
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