I interviewed Bill Cosby once. It was 2004, and the controversy swirling around him involved not sexual assault, but his unapologetically conservative views about the Bill Cosby Fuck Them Hoes Shirt state of black people. At an NAACP event commemorating the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, Cosby shocked the middle-class crowd by venting his anger over what he saw as the poor choices black kids and their parents had made since that ruling too much TV, too little reading, too much buy-in into America’s consumer culture. Black people were failing their historical mission of bettering themselves through education, Cosby said. Then he went further He scoffed at black boys who didn’t pull up their pants, decried black names like, scolded incarcerated people who had the men t shirts sense to commit a minor infraction stealing a piece of pound cake and getting shot or imprisoned for it. unsparing message was that whatever our misfortune, we had pretty much brought it on ourselves. I was eager to talk to Cosby because, like a lot of black people, I disagreed strenuously with his view and wanted to take him to task.
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Also like a lot of black people I admired Cosby as a pioneering and philanthropist. I was more than a little nervous. I rarely interviewed celebrities of his stature. How would the conversation go? Could I be a fan and a critic at the same time The exact way it worked hit me some time later, though, at a town hall meeting in the Crenshaw District that was part of project to spread his controversial new message of uplift. A young woman in the audience, a single mother, described her struggles to him and asked him for advice on how she might improve her lot. It was clear she was impressed by celebrity, by his willingness to come out and speak to the masses. Cosby responded by icily questioning her as to why she had children she seemed unable to support, and suggesting she had been sexually irresponsible to have had kids at all. The woman looked taken aback, then ashamed. She had been shut down as a black person who was clearly part of the Problem, and as a woman. I felt for her, as did the entire room. Bill Cosby has been a problematic hero for a long time. The sexual abuse allegations have been running in the Bill Cosby Fuck Them Hoes Shirt background since at least the year I interviewed him. But as long as they stayed in the background, most black folks were willing to tolerate the contradictions they raised.