Excerpt: 'Come on People'

Bill Cosby is a cultural icon, but these days he's much more than an entertainer. He's an educator and an activist with a powerful message for blacks to take more responsibility for their lives. With renowned Harvard psychiatrist Alvin Poussaint, he has written a book that he describes as a wake-up call for American families. It's called "Come on People."

You can learn more about what The Cos is doing on his website.

Read an excerpt below.

WHAT'S GOING ON WITH BLACK MEN?

For the last generation or two, as our communities dissolved and our parenting skills broke down, no one has suffered more than our young black men. Your authors have been around long enough, and traveled widely enough, to think we understand something about the problem. And we're hopeful enough—or desperate enough—to think that with all of us working together we might find our way to a solution. Let's start with one very basic fact. Back in 1950, before Brown v. Board of Education, before the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, when Rosa Parks was still sitting in the back of her Montgomery bus, when the NBA was just about all white, back in those troubled times, black boys were born into a different world than they are today. Obviously, many civil rights leaders had hoped that with the demise in the 1960s of officially sanctioned forms of segregation and discrimination, black males would have greater access to the mainstream of American society. They had fully expected that these young men would be in a better position in every way—financially, psychologically, legally—to sustain viable marriages and families. Instead, the overall situation has continued to go downhill among the poor who are mostly shut out from the mainstream of success. How is that possible?

There is one statistic that captures the bleakness. In 1950, five out of every six black children were born into a two-parent home. Today, that number is less than two out of six. In poor communities, that number is lower still. There are whole blocks with scarcely a married couple, whole blocks without responsible males to watch out for wayward boys, whole neighborhoods in which little girls and boys come of age without seeing up close a committed partnership and perhaps never having attended a wedding.

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