Thursday, October 20, 2005

Cosby in Compton

Billy Cosby continues his social commentary and reflections on Black communities throughout America, calling on them to show the good that is or from part of their lives.

The city, he said, needs to honor Venus and Serena Williams — the tennis superstars who rose from the public courts of Compton to the top of the world rankings.

"How difficult is it for Compton to have a parade so that parents can bring the children and hold them up and say: 'They're from here'?" he asked the hundreds of residents who came to talk about turning things around in their violence-plagued city.

"And then one of the sisters was shot and murdered," he said, referring to the 2003 killing of the Williamses' half-sister Yetunde Price. Cosby paused for the audience to complete his sentence.

"In Compton," they replied.

"And the verdict was mistrial — in Compton," Cosby said. "Still no parade.

"Come on, Compton. You understand?" Cosby said to murmurs from the crowd.


By coming to Compton, Cosby journeyed to one of the birthplaces of the hip-hop slang and gangsta dress and lifestyle he has criticized. He caused controversy last year when he called some in the black community "knuckleheads" for what he sees as their disrespect of the legacy of the civil rights movement by embracing sloppy grammar and diction.


He and other speakers traced many of the problems back to the home — calling on parents to take a firm hand, to participate each day in their child's education, to demand excellence, and to be role models for self-sufficiency. Acknowledging that many young black children are being raised by single mothers, several people called on black men to take on a fatherly role not only to their own children but to other children in the community.


"People who say, 'I'm not going to flip some burgers. I'm going to sell some drugs, and if I get killed I get killed,' that's mind-boggling," Cosby said, "because we didn't come from giving up. We came from surviving."

Let's hope enough heed the call.

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