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Bill Cosby Decries Slumping Urban Civility

7 Jul, 2004 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Last week, comedian Bill Cosby sounded off once again on what he sees as the black community struggling educationally and economically.

He blames, in large part, stereotypical pop culture and entertainment, including rap music and videos, within the black community for the decline.

After lashing out in May at a commemoration of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision, Cosby was criticized by some for airing the black community's “dirty laundry.”

According to a published report on CNN.com, Cosby, speaking before the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition & Citizen Education Fund's conference in Chicago, said “Let me tell you something, your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2:30 every day. It's cursing and calling each other ‘nigger' as they're walking up and down the street. They think they are hip. They can't read; they can't write. They are laughing and giggling, and they are going nowhere.”

As a reporter whose beat includes urban fare, I empathize with Cosby's lament. The majority of movie and music videos targeted at the 18-to-34-year-old black demo are laced with profanity and riddled with stereotypical urban characters meeting unhappy endings.

In fact, the few titles that rise above the scrum often can't escape similar scenarios, but do so either through superior individual performances (Denzel Washington in Training Day) or storytelling such as Spike Lee's early stuff.

Speaking to distributors of urban home entertainment, there exists a consensus that both reiterates Cosby's concerns yet feels compelled to adhere to market demands.

It's just sad that so many young blacks can't separate entertainment from reality.

As Cosby said, “You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth.”

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