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Touchdown/Point After

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By William Broussard and Robert Brown

This Week’s Topic:

Should Bill Cosby be honored with the “Gold Medal Award” by the National Football Foundation?


Will: A little over a week ago, it was announced that Dr. William Cosby would be honored with one of the National Football Foundation’s most prestigious awards, the “Gold Medal,”

The highest and most prestigious award bestowed by the Foundation, the Gold Medal has been awarded annually since 1958 and recognizes an outstanding American who has demonstrated integrity and honesty, achieved significant career success and has reflected the basic values of those who have excelled in amateur sport, particularly football.” – from the National Football Foundation website

Honestly, at first blush, the award seems well-deserved, as Cosby has spent much of his life advocating for civil rights and demonstrating the beauty, diversity, and richness of Black life in America. In doing so, he served and educated all Americans, and “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World” educated and entertained us. I personally remember being so enamored with the diverse and colorful depictions of Black life on those programs and aspiring to play football one day at fictional Hillman College (and, maybe, meeting a southern belle like Whitley that I could put on my arm!). He is, in the opinion of virtually everyone, an outstanding American, one of America’s most successful humorists, and someone who has used his platform to create a net positive force on the universe.

However, I would be remiss if I did not point out that a substantial amount of the work that Dr. Cosby has done to promote and enrich our education about Black life in America was erased by controversial comments that he has made in the last several years. In a series of talks and public appearances beginning with a 2004 speech, he bashed Black men, labeling them as woefully uneducated, unfit parents, unwilling to work, and prone to blaming the White man for all of their problems. He also pointed out that hip-hop music and Black vernacular language was a scourge in black life, and that the music only promoted and encouraged the very worst behaviors, elements, and outcomes for Black men.

His comments not only were based on essentializing and racially pernicious views of Black Americans, and those, arguably, of a man disconnected from Black youth culture by his age and his wealth, but they ran in direct conflict with the very reason he is being honored. Dr. Cosby claims to be an educator, a promoter of multiculturalism, and one who values diversity. And yet, his comments represented a narrow, stereotypical, and denigrating view of working-class and poor Black Americans. Most dishearteningly, he used his platform to sow discord rather than promote unity, and to discourage rather than promote discussion, problem-solving, and seeking solutions and a better life.

Dr. Cosby is certainly deserving of the award (though, lettering one year in college at Temple in football does not necessarily qualify him as ‘excelling in amateur sport’) and is as distinguished an American as any other previous recipient. However, those comments still linger, and mar substantially his contributions to American education and civil rights, and ultimately, his legacy.

Rob: Bill Cosby’s hard work, humor, and diligence has made him a worldwide icon worthy of receiving such an award. Mr. Cosby’s sitcoms ‘’The Cosby Show’’ and ‘’A Different World’’ were more than TV shows; they were blueprints. Blueprints, that if paid attention to, would lead any man or woman, white or Black to a better standard of living. What Cosby did with his humor was teach us all that a person can succeed without lowering neither themselves nor their standards to the lowest denominator. He is, without a doubt, one of the greatest role models of the 20th century. So should a rant about the current state of some African-Americans tarnish his image: Absolutely not.

In 2004, Bill Cosby made several media appearances expressing his distaste with the current behavior of today’s youth and parenting in the Black community. He called out absent Black fathers, questioned the dress and attitudes of young Black men, and called the entire sub culture of Hip-hop, ‘’stupid’’. Given the content, you would think that Mr. Cosby has lost touch with his roots and is being an ‘’uppity Negro’’ by calling out the downtrodden. But, what he did was not pick on the underprivileged, he was uplifting them, uplifting them by challenging them to a higher standard of living. Just because Bill Cosby has made millions of dollars doesn’t mean that he can’t have an opinion, and it surely doesn’t mean that he’s lost touch with his roots.

Cosby grew up in the slums of Philadelphia in the 1930’s, a much harder time period than now, and used his negative experiences to make a positive impact on society. Bill simply has an outlook that goes, ‘’If I can do it, you can too’’. What’s wrong with that? At his age, 73, people tend to be either reflective or angry. Bill Cosby is both. He’s reflective because in his time as a young man he had to battle Jim Crow and open segregation, not procrastination on Facebook and Twitter. And he’s angry because he didn’t receive half of the ‘’special privileges’’ we have now in the 21st century.

At the end of the day, Bill Cosby is loved by people far and wide, but hated by Black intellectuals and liberals because he called out the ‘’poor and meek’’. When in actuality, Bill Cosby has done more for the poor and meek than any liberal or so called intellectual has ever done. His support of the Negro college fund and other academic ventures has sent plenty of poor Black youth to college and beyond. He’s donated a large sum of his millions to support the education of many, and the well being of the poor. Bill’s legacy shows us that doing the right thing pays off, is it wrong that he expects the same for us, too?

Will Broussard is an assistant professor of language and communication at Northwestern State University. Robert Brown is a student at Northwestern State University. Both of them think NSU’s fight song should be chopped and screwed.


Written by demon53

August 31, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Real Views, louisiananormal. louisiananormal said: Touchdown/Point After: […]

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