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National Tragedy of One Segment of the USA

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Bill Cosby has again issued a clarion call to his community to return to family values and parenting while seeking better lives through teamwork, jobs, economic prosperity and social reform.

Comedian, actor and “entertainer” Bill Cosby has again transformed himself. Now he is a social reformer -- and one of the few that will even discuss the ills of the American Black or African American community.

Cosby has been at this for more than a few years and he has been castigated by other “leaders” in the community.

On July 1, 2004, Cosby hurled himself into a maelstrom of criticism from his community by yet again openly criticizing the black community while alongside Jesse Jackson at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition annual conference. In response to the charge that he is airing African American’s dirty laundry out in the open, Cosby answered critics by saying, “Let me tell you something, your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2:30 every day, it’s cursing and calling each other n**** as they’re walking up and down the street. They can’t read, they can’t write. They’re laughing and giggling, and they’re going no where.”

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This encounter underscored an outraged Cosby’s earlier criticisms. On May 17, 2004, at a NAACP celebration that marked the 50th anniversary of the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision that outlawed segregation in schools, 66-year-old Bill Cosby made pointed comments about the way black youth dress, citing their oversized clothes as “ridiculous.” He also attacked lower class blacks for not speaking proper English, not raising their kids properly — by instilling corrupt and materialist-based values — and naming them silly names.

Mr. Cosby has kept his criticism and his call for reforms alive. Along with Harvard Medical School professor and psychiatrist Alvin Poussaint, Bill Cosby has written a new book titled “Come On, People, on the Path from Victims to Victors.”

The two recently appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert and they eloquently spelled out their concerns during a riveting interview.

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If people think that all is well in America’s Black community they should read “Come On People” and listen to the thoughts and facts presented by Mr. Cosby and Dr. Poussaint.

But don’t just listen to these two gentlemen. Read some facts of the statistics and facts from other sources.

Today, hidden in the Metro section of the Washington Post, a careful reader can find an article on the latest report from the Washington D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute. The report’s intriguing title is: “D.C.’s Two Economies.” We’ll just list here some of the findings of fact and opinions found in the study and you decide if all is well in the Nation’s Capital City.

–The District’s poverty rate is the highest in nearly a decade, and the employment rate for African American adults is at a 20-year low.

–Although the District’s robust economy has spurred job growth, higher salaries, a construction boom and neighborhood revitalization, the city’s poorest and least-educated residents have been left behind — living “on the other side” of the city’s “gleaming economy.”

–The wage gap between high-wage and low-wage workers in Washington is at an all-time high. Salaries for the least-paid workers (adjusted for inflation) are virtually unchanged in three decades, while income for higher paid workers has soared overall. Only Atlanta and Tampa have a higher rate of income inequality.

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According to the Washington Post, “The study’s author, Ed Lazere, called the findings not only ‘striking and depressing,’ but also a clarion call for the administration ofMayor Adrian Fenty (D) to find ways to reach out to city residents ‘who are not succeeding . . . and who are not connecting to the economy.’

We applaud and support people like Mr. Cosby, Dr. Poussaint, and Mr. Lazere who get to the truth, point it out and advocate for reform.  And we hope that other Black leaders can admit and address the problems of their community and stop yelling “Racism” or “Uncle Tom” every time someone confronts them with the facts.

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John E. Carey is the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.

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