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23 November 2014

The Duplicitous and Deceptive Behaviors of Bill Cosby & Ultimately His Downfall!

I've been reading a number of articles about what many are calling the 'deconstruction' of Bill Cosby and the comments made by the readers of these articles which I found confounding as well as interesting. There are three of these articles that I'd like to share on this post.  One of them featured in Salon is Dr. Cooper's assessment which was especially poignant regarding the tragedy of this situation and the years of dishonesty, reprehensible behaviors and betrayal of women including his wife.  It's even more heartbreaking for it seems more telling now that his brutal (some call it tough love affronts) and verbal assaults against young men, women of color and blacks in general a smokescreen.  The latter a result of his private demons and displacement of  feelings about his aberrant behaviors over the years.  Dr. Cooper's take is as follows:

We must abandon Bill Cosby: A broken trust with women, black America.

   
  Brittney Cooper Brittney Cooper is a contributing writer at Salon, and teaches Women's and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers. Follow her on Twitter at @professorcrunk



A few more observations on this sad state of affairs:

The image(s) of a brash, confident Bill Cosby climbing the entertainment ladder and making a public name for himself that evoked pride and purpose and a private one as a womanizer and sexual molester.




Oh no...not 'Dr. Huxtable' who had a successful run of The Cosby Show and became America's Dad.
He not only became trapped in that image and meme; he had accumulated enough hubris to start pointing 
a finger at all the wrongs of black folks.  He took no prisoners and said things about us that even those law abiding and hard working folks in these so-called "at risk" communities began to wonder about his disconnectedness and failure to realize that we are not one-dimensional.  Blanket accusations of black culture/folks made him the darling of many whites for he never addressed the systems that were in place that maintained white supremacy and absolved those who perpetuated it and continue to do 
so in these United States.  The onus was strictly on us for he made it and 
those blacks whom he believed were contributors to society and not 
slackers and dependent on government services also made it!! 


Bill Cosby, a 77 year old man with years of sexual molestation allegations hovering over him is  now being forced to face the consequences of what he's sowed over the years. All those who came forth during those previous years telling their stories to mainly deaf ears and those newcomers aren't going away. There are probably some who lack credibility, however, 16+ women aren't all delusional/untrustworthy for there is a pattern.  No one can help him now, 'Cliff', his philanthropy (the most endearing aspect) and 50 year marriage to Mrs. Camille Cosby. 
The picture above was taken during a recent videotaped interview with an AP interviewer.  The formal topic was  his private African Art Collection Exhibition at the Smithsonian. He refused to answer questions regarding the allegations and after the interview asked the interviewer to 'scuttle' what he did say in response to them. His request was denied. It was telling and sad to view especially the strange affect (was that a smile or anguish?) on his wife's face while making this request. He further stated that 'we' aren't going to talk about that'.

It was also indicated that the statute of limitations are your protection from legal prosecution, however , your legacy  which includes generous gifts to causes and your successes in the entertainment field will be overshadowed by your previous sexually 'alleged' crimes and your skewed conservatism directed mainly at black folks.
  
The other articles by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Nikki Giovanni about Bill Cosby {2008} in response to  the rape/molestation  allegations and his conservative rants about black folks in general rings true today and are as follows:

'The Audacity of Bill Cosby's Black Conservatism' ~ Ta-Nehisi Coates{2008}
Nikki Giovanni Comments on Bill Cosby (2008)

BTW:  As I've stated in other venues; I was pretty much done with Bill Cosby when he made the rounds with his notorious "pound cake" speech & his hubris showing his behind big time when he blasted the then young black football player (Dean Brown)  http://deadspin.com/the-nd-player-bill-cosby-berated-felt-like-a-failure-fo-1661591222  at Notre Dame. Mr. Brown was quite proud of his accomplishments thus far in his career and Cosby just trashed him. It was aired. He cried! I knew then, for sure, that his behavior was not only duplicitous but arrogant and lacked grace . You can't berate young black men to do better and when they do; lambast them for their efforts. The link above is an article about that incident.  Mr. Brown is deceased, however, he had indicated that the encounter over the  years left him with a 'heavy uneasiness'. 

26 October 2014

The Bottom Line on Toni Morrison's Papers: It's Her Choice

I debated whether or not I should post my opinion(s) to current controversy over Ms. Morrison's decision to house her papers at Princeton given that she was a student, teacher and actually began writing 'The Bluest Eye' at Howard University.  As with most of these self-inflicted dilemmas; I've decided to do so.

It further occurred to me if, indeed, the masses of black folks with more pressing concerns would really care.  This is all so academic and as one pundit indicated quite elitist.  However, we do live in the era of public intellectualism and an interest in literary works that spans across all socioeconomic lines. The internet, public radio/t.v. and cable have contributed to informing the public on a variety of subjects. Ms. Morrison has also presented and continues to appear (although less frequently of late) in a number of forums open to the public.  I believe she is respected and admired in ways that exceed age, class and ethnicity.  

Which is a lead-in to one of the links provided below on an open letter to Toni Morrison by 'Anti' filled with angst and questions surrounding her decision to leave her papers to Princeton, an institution she taught at for 17 years.  He states a good case and it is brilliantly written and one can actually feel the emotional and mental anguish of one whose sheroe and literary giant has taken a position that defies his perception of her 'being'.  We all do it at one time or another if we're honest with ourselves.

I've provided a link to a panel discussion led by Marc Lamont Hill with Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr., Dr. Greg Carr and Dr. Susana Morris and the young man, Anti-Intellect who wrote the letter to Ms. Morrison questioning her choice. The pros and cons offered by this esteemed panel on her decision to do so are legitimate and reveals this double consciousness {W.E.B. DuBois construct} that many black scholars/writers  wrestle with when it comes to leaving their papers to or teaching at institutions of higher learning. The question of Howard or other Historically Black Colleges and Universities' limited resources, solvency and frankly ability to 'bid' or house these important papers lend to the complexity of the issue. 

There are two of a number of examples that come to mind in regard to the complexity of these matters.  I recently addressed on my side bar an article on Alain Locke, Father of the Harlem Renaissance, Chair of Philosophy at Howard and Rhodes Scholar's cremains interred 60 years after his death in the Congressional  Cemetery, September 13, 2014 .  The remains had been stored in the archive area of  Howard University and it was a small group of black scholars who decided it was way overdue to bury them with a historical marker.  Fisk University, at one time, was trying to sell valuable paintings due to financial woes and many of them were damaged due to neglect.  The concern is would Howard be in a position to take care of her papers and will they be readily accessible to others or forgotten in the archives.  To further add to the angst, there are rumors/examples given of moldy or lost papers in boxes stored in a number of HBCUs.  Ouch....I know...uncomfortable but it's a refrain I've read on other sites or heard as indicated on the link to the videotaped panel discussion. 

With that said, I think highly of Toni Morrison and as I've asserted many times that it was her novel 'Song of Solomon' one of her earlier works  that re-inspired my interest in fiction.  I  favored non-fiction at that time, i.e., social,  political and biographical works. Many of her books line my personal library and some of them are also non-fiction.  She is a true scholar, yet, celebrates the full breath of the black experience in this country and offers no apologies when she's challenged on the perceived balkanization of her body of work. There was an interview that I remember in which she was asked why the majority of her narratives are about the black experience and this is not a direct quote but the essence of one of her remarks was, would this person ask a white author why does he/she just write about white people.  The latter would be taken for granted.


There is one aspect at the core of this public debate that I've been guilty of with the history of coming from the black radical tradition. That is a tendency to want to claim...yes...I said claim our heroes/sheroes and people of color from all walks of life who do great things that enhance humanity which also includes our institutions.  I'm sure the marginalization and at times omission of our individual/group accomplishments over the decades lend to this phenomena.  We are now in an era  where indeed "many things are true at once" for we have Generation X, Generation Y which includes the Millennials & Gen Next who stressed individualism over group identity for surely we are beyond color and racial politics.  Then there are many Baby Boomers (my group) who are witnessing a recycling or continuation of many of the injustices and hardships of the past within different contexts at times with facets of revisionism and some that are virtually the same.  The caveat being that this is not absolute which Anti's letter makes clear, yet, there is a pattern that would lead one to make this observation.  It's also a speculation and a recurring idea for me and certainly a case for consideration.

In closing, I must admit that I would have savored stating that Ms. Morrison bequeathed her papers to Howard University notwithstanding the unknown realities that influenced her decision to give them to the institution she taught at for many years. During a written conversation with my eldest daughter, who is a published poet and adjunct professor; it became clear that there were positions we shared and others that were debated.  She cited that:

   "It's SO complicated and there are so many variables.
I do think it's highly unfair to somehow insinuate 
her decision is an indicator of racial allegiance or 
pride. She's always come from a position of strength
and knowing her worth. " 

It would be interesting if Ms. Morrison responds to Anti's letter and if she doesn't; I wouldn't be surprised for she's stood solid in her truths over the years and those of us who love and respect her being and literary genius...should just DEAL with it!!

Links:

Toni Morrison Speaks of Legacy at Princeton (Vimeo)
 An Open Letter to Toni Morrison by Anti-Intellect
Do Tony Morrison's Papers Belong at Princeton or Howard? {Video Panel Discussion}


26 September 2014

The Disheartening and Ennobling Paradox of Grief


'And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation'
~ The Prophet ~

A few of my posts have been tributes and remembrances of public figures/celebrities from the political, literary and  entertainment fields as well as the  tragic and unexpected deaths of young people by rogue cops or misguided gang members. There have, also, been those who've chosen to discontinue this journey by reasons only God and they knew at that time.  With the exception of the tributes to my parents; most of these posts have been about folks whom I didn't know personally but respected and admired for their talents and humanitarian endeavors.   

I, now, find myself again addressing personal grief with the transition of my niece, Thema  from complications associated with  Myasthenia gravis disease which is incurable.  She was valiant for a number of years in fighting this disorder and one never got the impression that she felt sorry for her predicament.  It was a debilitating process and she became weaker towards the end and worried about leaving her young children without their mother. Although, I didn't see her the past couple of years; I kept up with her on social media and was in a prayerful mode for an extended period.  It was my hope that she would again experience a period when the symptoms were less dramatic with a more acceptable level of functioning. 

As we grieve her passing; she inspired us with how she became more philosophic and caring for others as well as her children under the most trying circumstances.  Thus the feelings of sadness and despair as I think about the family's loss, yet, empowered by how honorably she handled this adversity.  A role model...if you will....on facing and living with a chronic medical condition and a daunting prognosis for many stricken by this disease.  

There will be a celebration of her life (35 years) Sunday, September 28th and there will be songs of praise and recollections of the good times and what she meant to others, however, I can't help but think of a quote on grief by the late Maya Angelou. It was her response to the age old question; 'Death where is thy sting'?  She asserts that "It is here in my heart and mind and memories". 

Dear Thema, May God Bless and keep your soul.

13 August 2014

Editorial: Michael Brown and Anti-Black Violence

 I'm keenly aware of what I wrote in my July 12th post about spiritual nourishment/renewal and creating more of a  balance that focuses on the best instincts and behaviors of humanity.  Although the intent is still there, I find it necessary  to share this  editorial on the Feminist Wire site regarding the recent murder of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, by a 'rogue' police officer.  It is well written and  speaks to this expanding and ongoing  assault on our unarmed black youth and adults across this country by law enforcement.  It is what it is and a feel good story isn't going to work for me at this point.  I remain hopeful.



12 July 2014

'The Road Less Traveled' For Contemplation & Spiritual Renewal

I'm taking time off to do some serious introspection for fear that with all the turmoil and strife we're facing on the domestic front and globally; I may be losing my center. Beyond the 'silver lining' in those dark clouds; how about just the former.  Most people worry about their destiny and what fate holds for them only to realize that "a person often meets his (her) destiny on the road he (she) took to avoid it" ~ J. de la Fontaine. It can be a  painful process when confronting not only your personal issues but having the audacity to comment on the shortcomings of others with very few solutions. Overwhelming....to say the least.

Of late, I've noticed most of my posts have been on the daunting events of the day and not enough commentary on those events or people who bring out the best of humanity.   I plan to return in August with a more balanced view of those issues and daily occurrences one encounters on the road less traveled as well as those with massive traffic jams. Have a wonderful summer and remember we must nourish the spirit as well as the body...that's what I'll be doing.!

11 July 2014

Justice Denied: Anniversary of the Trayvon Martin Not Guilty Verdict

We Haven't Forgotten You and the 'Murders' of Other Young Victims!

Trayvon Martin: 02/05/1995 ~ 02/26/2012