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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Come On People

About a month ago, I got an e-mail from a lady who works at BillCosby.com asking if I would be interested in receiving, reading, and reviewing a new book co-written by The Cos. Being a big fan of Dr. Theodore Huxtable (I mean, my parents even videotaped and saved every episode of the Cosby show), I readily agreed.

A few days later, I received Come on People: On the Path from Victims to Victors, by Bill Cosby and Alvin F. Poussaint. I have just finished reading it, and I found it very poignant and powerful.

The main focus of the book is on the American black family -- its problems, its struggles, and its possible solutions. For young black males especially, there is an overwhelming feeling of victimhood that just continues to build and build with every passing day. Too many of these kids accept this with a sense of fatalism and do absolutely nothing to try to dig themselves out of the hole that they find themselves in. Instead of strengthening family bonds, they reach out to false surrogate families such as gangs and drug dealers, and they get themselves involved in lives that have no worth or meaning.

The authors bemoan the erosion of the family values that used to exist with a father and a mother bringing up the children, lovingly disciplining them, and modeling right and wrong. Heartbreaking statistics reveal that so many young black men are growing up in families where there is no father figure present to demonstrate how a man should act. And without that role model, the cycle perpetuates itself. These young black men might get a young black girl pregnant, and then their instinct is to run from the issue, rather than staying to support the baby. The statistics are also overwhelmingly high for these kids to drop out of school early and to be in jail for some portion of their life.

Cosby and Poussaint have traveled the country, discussing these issues in community call-outs. In these call-outs, various people have shared their own personal stories of adversity, despair, and triumph. Many of these stories are contained within the chapters of Come on People, and they are inspiring to behold.

Come on People should be read by everyone, regardless of age, race, or class status. The only way any of this is ever going to change is if we decide to change things for ourselves.

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