Rise of the Wiggers

Bill Cosby, who in recent years is making it his mission to preach self-responsibility to black Americans, has a new book called Come On, People. On Sunday he appeared on Meet The Press along with his co-author, Dr. Alvin Poussaint of Harvard Medical School. They seem to have their work cut out for them.

MR. RUSSERT: One of the things that you did in “Come On, People” were—was to compile statistics, very hard-headed numbers.


MR. RUSSERT: And they are numbing when you read through them. You mentioned one. One out of three of homeless people are black. Blacks make up 12 percent of our population. And here’s a some—a few more that you cite which I think really does help us dramatize how critical this discussion is. And let’s read them through here.

“Homicide is the number one cause of death for black men between 15 and 29 years of age and has been for decades.

“Of the roughly 16,000 homicides in this country each year, more than half are committed by black men. A black man is seven times more likely to commit a murder than a white man, and six times more likely to be murdered.

“Ninety-four percent of all black people who are murdered are murdered by other black people.

“Although black people make up” “12 percent of the general population,” “make up nearly 44 percent of the prison population.

“At any given time, as many as one in four of all” black men, “young black men are in the criminal justice system—in prison or jail, on probation or on parole.”

Those are numbing numbers. They truly are. What can we do? [Full transcript]

What the transcript doesn't show is that when Russert said "What can we do?" there was a long, awkward pause before Cosby began to answer. My impression was that he knows full well that there are no good solutions. Two and maybe three generations are lost forever. It's very sad. Cosby has a few specific public policy ideas, which may help some, but what really needs to happen is a moral awakening in the black communities. There is only so much that outsiders can do to help.

The broader point I wish to make is that I fear the trends we see among young blacks are finding their way to white youth, through the conduit of rap music. More from the MTP interview:
In fact, the audience for gangsta rap is made up predominantly of white youth, who get a vicarious thrill from participating in a black thug fantasy, including the degradation of women. Black youth, as well as some misguided adults, have defended the use of the N-word, suggesting they are somehow making it a positive term...

If you’re going to use those words and the white male is buying the CD, then they’re buying into those words, and those words are being used on their women. Hint, hint. Domestic violence in the police department. Now they also share in the N-word. And it’s OK to say it, according to them, because it’s on the record...

Remember, too, that for a while that white kids who were into some of this rap and so on started calling themselves “wiggers”? ...

... the young, young girls will be dancing to words that degrade women and degrade them and they’re dancing to it. It shows you how much values have been corrupted, you know, by some of the media influences, and the young people can’t distinguish between what’s right and wrong. It’s like the, the bad stuff has become normal, and then they even see it as part of their culture instead of something that’s abhorrent and, and, and, and hurtful to their, to their lives and to their community.

Now, I know plenty of white parents who either don't mind or don't know that their kids listen to the vile lyrics of gangsta rap. I suppose it is possible, in a family situation that is otherwise healthy and stable, that this kind of music won't cause any harm. On the other hand, it's insane to suggest that music has no effect on us at all.

Music is processed by our brains differently from spoken or written words. It makes us feel good, and we retain information better when we acquire it musically. Kids who would never read poetry in English class love to hear the same words set to music. Properly used, this can be a good thing. Use it to spread misogynistic, violent, and hedonistic thoughts, and it should surprise no one if we end up with misogynistic, violent, and hedonistic youth.

White Americans need to hope and pray that people like Cosby and Poussaint are successful in their mission - not only because blacks are fellow citizens and humans, but because whites are vulnerable to the same disorders. The trends you see in black youth today will overtake white youth. When white kids begin calling themselves "wiggers," you know it's already starting. The violence and chaos that prevail in inner cities are spreading to white suburbs.

Think I'm wrong? I hope I am. Let's talk again in twenty years.

UPDATE 10/16/07: Mark Gordon has a post about the Cosby book. Otherwise not much reaction in the blogs I read.

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