Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind

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9780465017195: Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind

Nothing exposed the class and generational divide in black America more starkly than Bill Cosby's now-infamous assault on the black poor when he received an NAACP award in the spring of 2004. The comedian-cum-social critic lamented the lack of parenting, poor academic performance, sexual promiscuity, and criminal behavior among what he called the knuckleheads” of the African-American community. Even more surprising than his comments, however, was the fact that his audience laughed and applauded.Best-selling writer, preacher, and scholar Michael Eric Dyson uses the Cosby brouhaha as a window on a growing cultural divide within the African-American community. According to Dyson, the Afristocracy” lawyers, physicians, intellectuals, bankers, civil rights leaders, entertainers, and other professionals looks with disdain upon the black poor who make up the Ghettocracy” single mothers on welfare, the married, single, and working poor, the incarcerated, and a battalion of impoverished children. Dyson explains why the black middle class has joined mainstream America to blame the poor for their troubles, rather than tackling the systemic injustices that shape their lives. He exposes the flawed logic of Cosby's diatribe and offers a principled defense of the wrongly maligned black citizens at the bottom of the social totem pole. Displaying the critical prowess that has made him the nation's preeminent spokesman for the hip-hop generation, Dyson challenges us all black and white to confront the social problems that the civil rights movement failed to solve.

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About the Author:

Michael Eric Dyson, named by Ebony as one of the hundred most influential black Americans, is the author of sixteen books, including Holler if You Hear Me , Is Bill Cosby Right? and I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King Jr. He is currently University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University. He lives in Washington, D.C.

From Publishers Weekly:

Last May, iconic comedian Cosby raised a storm with a dyspeptic rant about the self-destructive failures of the black underclass: "knuckleheads" without parents who "put their clothes on backward," speak bad English and go to jail. To pop culture intellectual Dyson—author of books on Marvin Gaye, Tupac Shakur and Martin Luther King Jr.—this was the most blatant manifestation of an attitude shared by the "Afristocracy." With empathy and energy, Dyson takes Cosby at his word and dissects his arguments—as well as the comedian's own conduct—in order to combat Afristocratic dogma. While Dyson is merciless in assessing both, he takes the opportunity to explore a host of hot-button issues in black culture, from illegitimacy to faux African names, citing data and making his own case for black culture as adapted to a dominant white society that systematically puts up barriers to opportunity. The prolific Dyson has already generated controversy with what finally amounts to an evisceration of a major black figure, but that seems to be precisely the point. Despite the specificity and ferocity of Dyson's critique (which draws on allegations that Cosby sexually abused a woman and fathered an illegitimate child, and understates the race politics of The Cosby Show), Cosby ends up more of a straw man than take-down victim, as Dyson celebrates the "persistent freedom of black folk." 12-city author tour; 40-city radio satellite tour. (May)
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