What to do? Addressing Bill Cosby's critique is a long, challenging journey, but as with any journey, we're closer to its end by taking the first step, even if it's a small first step. When the fall semester begins, teachers should refuse to accept "I be," "Why you ain't?" and "Where you is?" They might ask students who use such language whether they know anyone who's successful and speaks that way, except Snoop Doggy Dog. They might also refuse to accept poor enunciation like "axe" for ask and "wiff" for with. Check it out with Cosby if you don't believe me: None of the Richard Allen kids he and I grew up with spoke that way.
Inner-city school teachers should show some honesty and let students and their parents know that those A's and B's received on past report cards are phony and at best only C's, D's and possibly F's anywhere else. Fraudulent grades exacerbate other problems. When a black kid has all A's and B's and makes the dean's list, what will he and his parents blame for his failure to get a decent SAT score, get into college or get a job? They're going to blame it on racial discrimination. All they'll see is that white kids with A's and B's do well and their kids with the same grades do not.
Finally, along with these tiny first steps, black parents, teachers, politicians and civil rights organizations should condemn the conduct of young blacks who do not take advantage of today's educational opportunities -- condemn it as a gross betrayal of the memory, struggle, sacrifice, sweat and blood of our ancestors.
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