Is Bill Cosby Right?

Is Bill Cosby Right?

Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?

Book - 2005
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Baker & Taylor
Counters Bill Cosby's view on the black poor, and discusses the growing gap between the upper-class black poulation and the poor black population.

Perseus Publishing
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.

The acclaimed “hip-hop intellectual” exposes the raw nerve of class and generational warfare in black America with this provocative defense of impoverished African Americans

Book News
In May 2004 Cosby delivered a speech at the NAACP Awards in which he said he blamed what he termed the "knuckleheads" of the African American community for poor parenting, poor academic performance, sexual promiscuity and criminal behavior. The audience laughed and applauded. Here, Dyson (humanities, U. of Pennsylvania) comments on both the speech and the reaction, finding a growing cultural divide between the "Afristocracy" (the African American elite and professional classes) and the "Ghettocracy" (the African American poor, working class and incarcerated). He finds evidence of abandonment of the aims of the civil rights movement among the elite, and a growing perception that the poor have no one to blame but themselves, despite obvious, ongoing and vicious racial discrimination in America. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: New York : Basic Civitas Books, c2005
ISBN: 0465017193
9780465017201 (pbk.)
Branch Call Number: 305.896073 DYS
Characteristics: xvi, 288 p. ; 22 cm

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Feb 14, 2016

As an African-American who grew up idolizing Bill Cosby this book is hard to digest when you read the comments of a man you grew up seeing as a champion of African-American fathers. In his defense I can also see how fame and fortune has him "out of touch" with contemporary low-income African-Americans. Cosby's comments at the NAACP luncheon that prompted Dyson's book are harmful words but taken out of context and I think Dyson does a nice job of explaining that and going through the years of Cosby's life and the struggle many African-Americans face on a daily basis. Thought provoking book for African-Americans who moved from a lower socioeconomic background to a middle/upper socioeconomic background as well as others audiences that need to be more familiar with the lives of African-Americans instead of basing that knowledge from media images/portrayals.


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