In my latest reading of Is Bill Cosby Right? (Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?), Michael Eric Dyson talks about Bill Cosby’s family problems. Dyson does this, not to air Cosby’s dirty laundry or to accuse Cosby of hypocrisy in attacking poor people’s family problems, but rather to argue that many families have problems, whether they be in the upper or lower economic classes. Thus, according to Dyson, Cosby should show compassion towards poor African-American families facing problems, rather than judging them as he did in his 2004 speech before the NAACP.
Dyson also quotes remarks that Cosby made in the early days of his career about poverty. This, according to Dyson, was “when [Cosby] wasn’t yet so far from poverty’s orbit that he could fly off into a rage against its victims” (page 179). In that statement, Cosby acknowledged the cycle of poverty: poverty making people less attractive to others, the lack of jobs taking a toll on people and their family lives, etc. Dyson states on page 180 that “That’s the Cosby we need to revive: a critical, clear, compassionate analyst, perhaps even an informal ethnographer, of the lives of the poor.”