Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bougie Bill Comes to Durham

Bougie Bill Comes to Durham:
Clash of the Classes

Paul Scott

Just like many folks of my generation, I grew up watching Bill Cosby.

I remember going to the local black movie theatre to see Cosby and Sidney Poitier in "Uptown Saturday Night" and its sequels. Not to mention the fond memories of my Saturday morning ritual of eatin' Frosted Flakes while being entertained by Fat Albert and his funky back up band The Cosby Kids performing their classic hits "Drugs are for Dummies" and "Don't Go Tellin' a Lie."

And anyone who says that they didn't alter their Thursday night schedule to watch "The Cosby Show" is a big fat liar.

However, in recent years the easy goin' comedian has transformed himself into the Blues Brother's shades wearin' Dr. William Cosby, crusader against bad parents and black boys wearin' their pants saggin', everywhere.

So, I'm not sure which Cosby is coming to the Durham Performing Arts Center, next weekend; the wise crackin' funny man or the stern schoolmaster with the verbal paddle.

My guess is the latter...

White folks will pay a lot of money to have someone save them the trouble of bad mouthin' black folks. Kinda like the record executive who pays rap artists to say the "N" word so he doesn't have to.

It's not that Cosby wasn't right in much of the criticism that he has levied at some black folks over the last couple of years. I ,for one ,can do without seein' another pair of dirty drawers when I go to the mall.

But like so many of his peers in the middle class they leave out the root causes of the pathological actions of African Americans, as well as the role that they have played in keepin' the masses ig'nant.

In 1957, E. Franklin Frazier wrote the controversial book "Black Bourgeoisie" in which he took shots at bougie black folks for their uppity behavior, saying that in trying to keep up with the Johansons, they separated themselves from the brothas and sistas in tha hood.

Coincidentally, Frazier says that in the early 20th century Durham NC was "the capital of the black bourgeoisie."

In Durham, as well as other cities, black folks don't like to talk about the "C" word. Stop anybody on the street and they will talk your ears off about racism but classism is a horse of a different color.

Never mind the fact that you have a division between the grassroots folks and the bougie folks who have their own bougie organizations, attend their own bougie churches and hang out at their own bougie clubs and do what ever the heck it is that bougie folks do.

They even have their own bougie radio talk show that only has bougie people on as guests talkin' about bougie issues.

We just don't like airing our dirty laundry when it comes to issues of class.

While on the surface there appears to be black unity in Durham when it comes to fighting for equal rights in reality, the upper class black folks call the shots and the grassroots activists are used as bargaining chips or attack dogs.

"OK Mr. Charlie, you can either negotiate with us sophisticated, college educated, BMW drivin' folks or you can deal with those fried chicken and collard green eatin' Negroes in the street..."

As Frazier points out in his book, as "radical" as the black bourgeoisie are supposed to be, they shy away from anything that does not lead to integration into white society.

According to Frazier "the black bourgeoisie have shown no interest in the 'liberation' of Negroes except as it affected their own status or acceptance by the white community."

In other words they ain't rockin' the boat for us poor black folks and risk losing their 2009 Cadillac Sevilles.

Herein, lies the problem with Cosby and the middle class cultural critics, they diagnose the sickness but do not have the ability or will to cure the illness.

In Dr. Bobby Wright's book ,"The Psychopathic Racial Personality," he critiques the limited scope of the works of black social scientists like Cosby's homie, Dr. Alvin Poussaint, by writing that he "ignores the widespread genocidal programs directed against Blacks and writes such trivia as 'The Difference Between Sex and Love,' Blacks and Jews an Appeal for Unity,' and 'Why Blacks Kill Blacks."

So, they give white folks the luxury to sleep good at night knowing that if every black kid in America does not live the life of "Theodore Huxtable," they have no one to blame but themselves and their parents.

As big a critic of Hip Hop as Bill Cosby and others pride themselves as being, one can only wonder why he did not fight harder to purchase NBC back in the day or why he and other rich black folks like Oprah Winfrey have not done more to break up the white media monopoly that is ultimately responsible for the messages that are sent over the airwaves to our children?

I guess like Ice Cube said in that classic scene from Boys in the Hood:

"Either they don't know, don't show or don't care what's goin' on in tha hood."

Paul Scott , writes for No Warning Shots in Durham NC. He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 or