Bill Cosby's new book, "Come On, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors," (written with Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint, 243 pages) is a big ball of crazy, kind of like the yearly harangue you get from your grandfather: "Why don't you have a real job yet? Why can't you hang on to a significant other?" Except it's completely directed at black folks! Like W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington before him, Cosby gamely suggests that black people pull themselves up by the bootstraps. From chapters ranging from "What's Going On With Black Men?" to "We All Start Out As Children," Cosby overshares his kooky ideas about the world, pissing and moaning that black Americans need to "tone down the culture" and "get smart about sex." Of course "When we were kids" is used more than once, and, did you know? In those days, kids knew their place (and knew how to act!) To underscore this point, he helpfully puts in quotations any word that seems "hip," "cool," or "new." Let's start with chapter 1, in which Bill Cosby casually enforces racial stereotypes.

Black boys, much more than girls, feel the need to carry on these traditions as part of their identity of being hot and/or cool. When boys hang on to so-called Black English in the classroom and verbal confrontations in the street, they may be hanging tough with their homies, but they are handicapping themselves in the game of life. They can "trash-talk" or "play the dozens" better than anyone on the planet, and that still isn't going to get them a job or into college... no matter how often or how publicly they grab their crotches, crotch-grabbing isn't even going to get them a bus ride downtown.

Then there's electoral politics:

When politicians come courting the black vote, they like to say, "It takes a village." Black people routinely respond, "Well, yes, okay." But no one seems to ask the questions that should come first: What is a village? What makes a village? Who acts for the village? Who speaks for it? One person? Two people?


On child-rearing:

African Americans sometimes use the term whupping when punishing their kids. This may very well have a connection to the slave experience. That isn't like jumping over a broom at your wedding. It is definitely not a part of the slave experience you wan to reenact.