Statement from The Brokaw Company: Bill Cosby Responds to Media Criticism

May 22, 2004, 01:00 ET from The Brokaw Company

    Los Angeles, May 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Bill Cosby says that media rumors that
 he has abandoned the African American lower economic community are grossly
 exaggerated.  A report in the "Reliable Source" column of the Washington Post
 (5/19/04) reprinted in many newspapers across the country left out an
 important piece of information from Cosby's remarks at a gala in honor of the
 50th anniversary of Brown V. Board of Education organized by the NAACP Legal
 Defense Fund in Washington DC last Monday.
     The article in the Post failed to mention that Mr. Cosby's remarks were
 specifically in context to addressing the epidemic of an estimated 50% of
 African American males in the inner city that are dropping out of school. The
 Post article inaccurately characterized Cosby's remarks as a general criticism
 of the black lower economic classes.
     Mr. Cosby explains that his comments were intended to be a call to action,
 to "turn the mirror around on ourselves."  "I think that it is time for
 concerned African Americans to march, galvanize and raise the awareness about
 this epidemic to transform our helplessness, frustration and righteous
 indignation into a sense of shared responsibility and action."
     "I travel the country and see these patterns in every community-stories of
 12 year old children killed in the cross fire between knuckleheads selling
 drugs, the 14 year olds with a sealed envelop as their first step into the
 criminal justice system, the young males who become fathers and not held
 responsible, the young women having children and moving back in with their
 mothers and grandmothers, and the young people who choose not to learn
 standard English."
     "My question:  Is Bill Cosby hoping that the drop out rate will reach 70%
 soon and teenage single parenthood will grow to 80% in the lower economic
 neighborhoods?   Or is he clanging a bell and warning that this is an epidemic
 that has to be stopped?  Are we so worried about what others think about us
 that we are unwilling to address this disease that is inflecting our people
 more and more every day?"
     Mr. Cosby points out that media critics such as Christopher Farley at Time
 Magazine are flawed in their argument that African American literary greats
 such as Langston Hughes and Zora Hurston honored the dialects that Mr. Cosby
 criticized as a lack of language proficiency that further denies opportunity
 to inner city blacks.  "Clearly, Mr. Farley did not speak in dialect on 'Good
 Morning America' nor would he probably have been hired by Time if he spoke
 that way.  Secondly, someone should question Mr. Farley whether Mr. Hughes or
 Ms. Hurston knew standard English and chose to write in dialect."
     "I feel that I can no longer remain silent.  If I have to make a choice
 between keeping quiet so that conservative media does not speak negatively or
 ringing the bell to galvanize those who want change in the lower economic
 community, then I choose to be a bell ringer."

SOURCE The Brokaw Company