Sunday, June 04, 2006
Joseph Phillips, -Bill Cosby's T.V. son-in-law Martin- recently wrote a book titled "He Talk Like A White Boy." Unfortunately, I must take issue with some of the things he had to say. Now I have no problem with Mr. Phillips trying to make some money, this is America, and believe me, writing a book aimed at a conservative audience by bashing his own people, will no doubt make him some serious chedder. It works every time. Just ask conservative race pimps like Thomas Sowell, and Walter Williams.
I also have an issue with Mr. Phillips trying to ride on the coat tails of the Cos. He is writing about an issue that we as a people already know exists, and one that the Cos himself has spoken about on numerous occasions.
Nevertheless, I will try to analyze Mr. Phillip's book for you: In one of the book's opening anecdotes; Mr. Phillips makes a comment in an accelerated English class, and a black student says; "He talk like a white boy!" Phillips said he thought to himself, "What does that mean?" He then explains that instead of chastising the girl or dealing with the substance of the remark, the teacher merely corrected the girl's grammer. "No LaQueesha, Joseph speaks like a white boy" That, says Phillips, was the beginning of his life. Apparently, this incident with LaQueesha -who by the way I have serious doubts as to whether this was the girl's actual name. Too perfect, too sterotypical- so traumatized the young Joseph that it would shape his thinking and the very way he views the race problem and societies ills in America. It, in essence, turned him to conservatisim.- Or that's what he would want us to believe- Then, he goes right into the tired old black conservative victim line. He claims that he has received many angry e-mails from blacks labeling him a sellout etc. but he just keeps plugging along. Poor Joseph, he is so misunderstood, and to think, it started when he was a youngster just trying to speak properly.
As I wrote in another blog; black people will see right through this crap. Too many of us grew up understanding that speaking properly (NOT WHITE) and mastering the King's English was an important part of learning. And the thought of teasing someone because they spoke properly never even entered our minds. I still remember my sister and I being teased for our Jamaican accents by our peers when we first moved to this country. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, and we didn't take it that way. Kids have been teased for a lot worse; the way they dress, where they live, you name it. The truth is, kids react to things that are different and kids say dumb things. So those kids weren't discouraging my sister and I from learning, or putting any social pressure on us because we had funny accents. (Heck, according to some of my friends, I still have a funny accent) They were merely expressing the fact that we spoke different than the other kids around us. Which might have been the case with Mr. Phillips. The fact that LaQueesha said "a white boy" just shows that her frame of reference might have been limited. If Joseph had a Spanish accent, she might have said; he talk like a Spanish boy, so what? Anyway, for the sake of this argument, I am going to give Mr. Phillips the benefit of the doubt, and assume that LaQueesha meant it as a bad thing, even though Mr. Phillips just happened to be speaking properly.
The truth of the matter is; there is still a lot of ignorance in our communities, because sadly, poverty and ignorance often go hand in hand. Also, the negative influences our children face when it comes to learning is a problem, we all recognize that. But is this particular problem worthy of a two hundred plus page book? I don't think so. The only people that want this book are conservative whites. It offers a little salve for their souls, reinforcement from one of their ideological soulmates to let them know that they are on the right side of the debate. To them, here is this wonderful black man with a similar political philosophy, and just because he talks like them, he is being vilified by his people. It's the "Tyranny of Opinion" according to Mr. Phillips. Black cultural gate keepers watching how you speak so that you don't stray too far from the script. Has he ever thought that it's not so much how he talks but what he says that bothered LaQueesha? What if LaQueesha and Joseph were previously listening to some Earth Wind & Fire tapes, and Joseph said something like;" Hey don't you have some Nirvana we can listen to?" See, that's not talking like a white boy, that's thinking like a white boy, regardless of how he said it. That could have been LaQueesha's problem with Joseph all along. Joseph wants to be a white boy. If some white "red neck" in Kentucky were to say; dem der negroes be comin dawn her en causing all serts of problems fer us. How would we classify that? I mean, he is a white boy, is he talking like a white boy, or just like a white red neck? And if he attempted to speak properly, would other red necks now say; he talk like one of dem der Yankees? I don't know, it's just a thought. For instance, when little white kids in the burbs imitate their favorite rap stars and start fe shizzeling their parents, is that a good thing? Should the parents now say; Johhny, you talk like an inner city black boy, you stop it this minute! Or should they say, our Johnny sure talks like a black boy how cute, it's so nice to know that little Johhny is street smart. See how crazy this stuff can get? We can go in all different directions with this one. Which is why Mr. Phillip's book and the interest it is drawing is so perplexing to me.
The truth is, I don't have all the answers to the question of the added pressure peers but on each other when it comes to learning. But Joseph Phillips has taken a universal problem and made it just a black one, when we all know that it's a lot more complicated than that. It's a problem that touches peer pressure, societal expectations, and proper role models for our children. Yes we do have problems in the black community with this issue, because we too often dumb down expectations, and exalt in ignorance. But that is something we should be working on with our community groups, schools, and local politicians. Not writing books for our conservative brethren so that they can continue to pass judgment about us. Judgments, by the way, that they are all more than willing to accept as gospel.
Mr. Phillips I am going to suggest that you try to work on your acting, because you obviously have a lot of free time on your hands. I have seen your work, so acting might not pay you as much as this does. But I bet you will sleep better at nights.
Posted by field negro at 2:24 PM