Bill Cosby and controversy have never been related terms – until recently, when Temple’s most famous graduate began to make known his opinions of African Americans in the United States.
Recently, Cosby has come under fire for making comments about the African American community. The comments began when Cosby gave a speech during the summer at a 50th anniversary celebration for the Supreme Court decision known as Brown v. Board of Education, which ended school segregation.
Cosby has said there are problems in the African American community like the juvenile delinquency rate, parenting, and prevalent use of coarse language by its young people. He blames parenting for these problems and lack of education on both the parents’ and the youths’ parts.
“Better schooling needs better money which will lead to better education,” said Temple sophomore Kadie Grisola in response. “If the schools are bad, he needs to give them money.”
Cosby has contributed quite a bit of money to students and institutions. He recently took two college-bound students on a college tour and is now paying for their education at Hampton University in Virginia.
Besides helping students who want to further their education, Cosby is also organizing town hall meetings in inner cities with various community leaders to get people to brainstorm ideas on how to give children better educational choices.
Cosby has been criticized for making these comments known to the entire country.
“I agree with what he says,” said senior Akeem Parsons. “However, voicing it publicly puts the whole race on trial. He’s risking the chance of stereotyping the whole race.”
Grisola is a student who feels that this isn’t a specifically racial issue.
“It’s not a racial issue,” Grisola explained. “It’s society and education. It’s a chain of effects. It starts with family background, not education.”
Cosby has also taken note of this and is trying to make stronger parents within the community. He has said to a reporter in Springfield, Virginia, “They’ve got the designer shirt, but no one’s telling them to study. People have to start seeing the light.”
Senior Lauren Highsmith agrees with Cosby’s remarks.
“He’s saying things that are true but people don’t want it publicized. You can’t be in this country and be African American and say it’s not true. If he didn’t say it someone else would have,” Highsmith argued.
Some students expressed concern about Cosby’s methods.
“If people feel personally attacked they may close themselves off and not be willing to change,” suggested sophomore Jessica Waybrant.
“He’s getting more of a negative reaction than if he delivered it a different way,” said junior Shannon Parker. “There’s a difference between encouraging and criticizing.”
Some, though, were satisfied with Cosby’s comments.
“I’m happy he’s saying something. Maybe people will make a change,” said Highsmith of Cosby’s comments. Highsmith feels that even though Cosby’s approach could be considered harsh, he is still getting his message across.
“Everything that he has said is supposed to be hush, hush, but he’s being so outspoken about it. Everything he said needed to be said. Everyone has a right to voice their opinion,” Highsmith said.
Hannah Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.