Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint have published Come on People: On the Path from Victims to Victors to promote a cultural revolution among black Americans. They haven't just written a book -- they have been going around the country issuing the call, listening to responses, pushing African Americans to stop being victims, stop blaming racism as the cause of all the distinctive problems of black people in this country, and get on with the business of taking responsibility for their own conditions and success. I blogged about this movement when the book first came out as "Cosby is Right Again." One of the innovative ways in which Cosby and Toussaint are promoting their cause is to give a copy of the book to 100 bloggers to write about it. That is what I will be doing all this week.
Cosby and Toussaint are old. They are of the Civil Rights generation that fought for legal equality in the '50s and '60s. They remember when racism in this country was much, much worse than it is now. And when the behavior of black individuals and black families was much better than it is now. The fact that they open the book with is this: in 1950, 5 out of 6 black children were born in a two-parent household. Today that number is less than 2 out of 6.
So where do these two old black men start in making their cultural revolution? By addressing young black men. And their main message to young black men is "claim your children." "You can run the biggest drug cartel in America or win the Super Bowl,"they argue, "but if you haven't claimed your children, you are not a man." No matter how much you may have screwed up your life, no matter how much your other problems or goals may claim your attention, black fathers have to reset their values to this standard: "I am more interested in raising my child than any issue I had before. I am going to behave or get help, but it is about the child."
In his excellent business book, Good to Great, Jim Collins says that one of the bedrock principles of any great organization is a willingness to face the brutal facts. Cosby and Toussaint are willing to face the brutal facts about black families and black actions today. And try to rebuild from there.