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Cosby Leads Discussion In Black Male Forum

Cosby Leads Discussion In Black Male Forum

“When we sit down and talk on an honest level, we see there is a problem in our neighborhood … There’s a lack of love. There’s the bottom-line right there,” said James “Loose” White III, a former gang member setting the foundation for a discussion on improving the plight of young Black men.

“There’s a generation gap. I don’t know what I haven’t been through. If I don’t have nobody to tell me, preferably an older Black male, how am I going to know how to teach the young ones?” asked White, who helped form the Newark, N.J.-based gang intervention organization, Saving OurSelves, or S.O.S.

Some of the problems of Black men are documented in figures on high school dropout rates, incarceration rates, unemployment rates and other statistics. A forum held last month in Washington, D.C., sought solutions from a diverse panel that included Dr. Bill Cosby, former gang members now working against gang violence, educators, scholars and high-achieving Black students.

White’s comments came during the panel, “Paths to Success: A Forum on Young African-American Men,” sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Washington Post. The Post has been running a series of articles examining the issues and experiences of Black men.

Moderated by Harvard Law School Professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr., panelists focused on personal accountability, the collective responsibility of churches and well-to-do Blacks to give back and various programs making a difference in the lives of Black men.

Cosby, who in controversial statements two years ago sounded the alarm about the misdirection of Black children, started the discussion with his take on the problem.

“Unless I missed it, I heard not one Black man say anything about being a father. I heard not one Black man say, ‘My responsibility is…’” Cosby said in response to a video presentation in which a variety of Black men were asked what it means to be a Black man.

“I’m not interested in statistics telling me things are not as bad as they seem. They are horrible,” Cosby said, adding that he is looking for actionable steps rather than studies and news stories that scratch the surface of issues affecting Black men.

“I’m tired of this drive-by crap,” he said.

Every institution, from schools to churches to the juvenile justice system, is failing Black youth, remarked former U.S. Congressman and Oakland’s Mayor-elect Ron Dellums.

Dr. Alvin Poussaint, a Harvard University Medical School professor who consulted on the “Cosby Show,” referenced a Yale University study that found that pre-school expulsion rates for Blacks were twice that of Whites. And nine out of 10 Black preschoolers expelled are boys. In most of the cases, the boys were cited for being aggressive, violent and using bad language.

“Is it racial profiling starting at three or four or is it something going on
before preschool that relates to the family and community making those Black males unable to adapt, unable to fit in. You can see why they have problems down the road. We have to ask ourselves some tough questions,” Poussaint said.

— By Toni Coleman

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