As the parent of a son who was murdered in cold blood one would think that Bill Cosby would be all over the not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman. However as I scoured the news outlets for any reaction, as well as Web 2.0, the last comments made by Cosby was in 2012 intimating that guns, not race was the more pressing issue in Trayvon Martin’s death. Interesting. I scarcely remember these sentiments when his only son Ennis Cosby was killed. At that stage in time, he was simply a parent grappling with the death of his child. His status, education and entertainment ground-breaks meant absolutely nothing; had no bearing or impact. His son was Black and Male: vulnerable to being dispensable – and got hit.
This peaked my curiosity because Dr. Cosby has had much to say about the ills and “failures” of the so-called Black community, most specifically those of lower income neighborhoods. There have been many rants about how “this community” for lack of tact and terminology is essentially making the rest of “us” (i.e. upper class Black folk) look bad. Cosby pointed the finger with venom; he talked out, talked on, and talked badly. For all intents and purposes he gave Whites of racist mentality a pass. Yet, he believes that the connection between racism and the reason his son is no longer here is on polar opposites of the spectrum.
For Ennis Cosby in comparison to Trayvon Martin via Cosby’s lens may be viewed as apples and oranges. After all, Ennis came from privilege – his parents are well-educated; his economic prowess was set for him; he attended the college of his choice, consciously selecting the Historically Black College/University, all-male Morehouse College. While Trayvon may not have enjoyed the comforts of this particular lifestyle, President Obama had the gumption to state that Trayvon could have been “his son” with absolutely no reference to the “gun problem” in this country. So if it was that clear the president, what is going on in the mind of Dr. Cosby where the concept of being Black and Male can be dangerously vulnerable to death and dying regardless of socioeconomic status? I’ll tell you…nothing.
Because in the eyes of Dr. Cosby he has transcended race. He is Black because his color says so. He is male because, at its base his gender is identified physiologically. But he is all the way American – where opportunities are open for anyone who chooses to work hard. That’s true, Dr. Cosby. So instead of the lectures, come meet the “Trayvons” of the world; introduce them to your son Ennis’ legacy. Be real with these young men who you believe are placing a dent in the upward mobility of elite African Americans about your own “hood” story, your GED, and your come-uppance in the world. Your father’s struggles with alcohol and his physical abuse toward your mother. Tell them you grew up in the projects; poor. Then and only then will these young men take you to heart and do better; see that America is open to them if they open themselves up to it…with the understanding that their station in life does not protect them from racial profiling with the right to kill – just because. And if that doesn’t lend itself to race being included with the gun issue Dr. Cosby…even in your wisdom, you still have a lot to learn.