Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bill Cosby vs. Barack Obama?

Google recommended this article from the Atlantic for me yesterday. I imagine it's probably because I searched "Obama" a while back in order to write my recent article about Wikipedia's Obama article, along with the recent searches for Monique Davis incident to this blogpost. Obviously Google's "interest engine" has decided that I'm interested in black politics. (It also thinks I'm interested in ham radio, probably because a few nights ago I spent a couple hours researching VHF and UHF HT and mobile rigs before deciding to buy a used Yaesu VX-5R.)

However, it is an interesting article. I especially found the author's identification of Cosby as Booker T. Washington's intellectual heir interesting. One of my long-favorite poems is Dudley Randall's "Booker T. and W.E.B." History proved that W.E.B. was right: "Unless you help to make the laws, / They'll steal your house with trumped-up clause. / A rope's as tight, a fire as hot, / No matter how much cash you've got." Washington's "Atlanta Compromise" fell apart in short order; however, integration does seem to have made things worse, not better, and I can see why some people think that going back to a segregationalist stance would be less bad than the current state of affairs. I get the sense, after reading Ta-Nehisi Coates' article, that we are seeing the Booker T. vs. W.E.B. debate all over again, with the part of Booker T. being played by Cosby and the part of W.E.B. being played by Barack Obama. What better way to "help make the laws" but to be elected President? Note also that Cosby refuses to even discuss Obama's candidacy.

I don't pretend to understand black politics in the United States; as a white woman I am not likely to have much access to that demographic. If anything, this article did more to convince me that I am even more ignorant of the dynamics in this particular arena than I previously thought.