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There's a black man standing in your Oxfords with you
February 21, 2011 9:01 AM   Subscribe

Bill Cosby: "A lot of people think we oughta wash white, but we aint gonna, you see." "People think that we Afro-Americans started with nothing but little grass skirts like the kids in the Tarzan movies....but uh, we had something before we left Africa." "Now if you want to look history right straight in the eye... you're going to get a black eye. Because it isn't important whether a few black heroes got lost or stolen or strayed in American history textbooks. What's important is why they got left out." Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed. (Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Find at your local library. Some of the people mentioned: Norbert Rillieux, Jan Ernst Matzeliger, Jim Beckwourth, Jean Baptiste du Sable, York, 5000 black cowboys & Deadwood Dick (pictured page 11 of PDF), Matthew Henson, Daniel Hale Williams.

In the second part, Cosby looks at the drawings of black and white children and talks about hollywood's portrayal of black people and the white audience's desire for these portrayals. In part three Cosby continues to examine characters in films, discussing white actors' roles, how they legitimized the messages for white audiences and created lasting memories. Part four continues with Cosby showing the portrayals of black people on film, mostly as servants or other stereotypes, then transitions into the effects of these portrayals, down to a black man's hairstyle. Part 5 opens up with a discussion of black people's acceptance into American society, and goes into a response and reaction to these messages. Cosby returns in the last segment to wrap things up.
posted by cashman (16 comments total) 89 users marked this as a favorite

 
This seems very interesting, thanks for posting. I look forward to checking this out later...
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:20 AM on February 21, 2011


Barack Obama would have been seven when this was made, slightly younger than the kids in the video. I'm not sure what that means but it seems neat.
posted by saturday_morning at 9:22 AM on February 21, 2011


OMG, Thank You! I saw this when I was a kid and totally forgot about it. I can't wait to watch the whole thing.
posted by lesli212 at 9:28 AM on February 21, 2011


Great find, I had no idea this series existed. I've only watched the first episode, but I'm looking forward to seeing all of 'em later today. One thing though, does Cosby wear that extraordinarily noisy sound generator, his leather jacket, through all of it... I hope not.
posted by VikingSword at 9:56 AM on February 21, 2011


Never even heard of this before. Thanks!
posted by AdamCSnider at 10:31 AM on February 21, 2011


Okay, so something I remember has been driving crazy for a while. When I was in grade school we were shown a film of Cosby he must of done around the time he did these films and probably for the same reason. It was just him sitting center screen on a stool smoking a cigar with white makeup on his nose. I suppose it was a reverse blackface or something. He just sat there and went through every race and made derogatroy stereotypical references about them. Anyway, I've always wondered what that was about. I'll have to check these out though, thanks.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:58 AM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't wait to watch this. I listen to the Tom Joyner Morning Show every morning on my way to work and they have something similar, the Little Known Black History Fact. I get really grumpy if I miss it because the radio is cutting out (a.m. radio baby!). I always end up thinking "why in the hell was this stuff left out of history books?" And then I remember why.
posted by hecho de la basura at 12:27 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was just him sitting center screen on a stool smoking a cigar with white makeup on his nose.

Here You go.
posted by Huck500 at 12:36 PM on February 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


No way! I still can't believe one of my grade school teachers showed that to us, but she did stop it a bit of the way through and was a bit upset.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:06 PM on February 21, 2011


By the way, thanks for that.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:07 PM on February 21, 2011


This is interesting, especially in light of the fact that my (apparently flawed) impression has always been that Bill Cosby was not nearly as embraced by the black community as by the white community. Maybe this is a generational issue (I am 26). See Eddie Murphy's famous impersonation from Raw, for example.
posted by beisny at 2:50 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have to mute the video in this office, so I'm watching it with Google captions:

"Black History: lost or stolen or something"

Anyway, I was disappointed to find the only evidence for his "high African culture" was the use of African art by Impressionists, which is a fun art history tidbit, but sort of dodges the question of what life in Africa was like before Europeans arrived.
posted by shii at 4:31 PM on February 21, 2011


Bill Cosby was not nearly as embraced by the black community as by the white community

Very complicated issue. A good start is this brilliant piece from the Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
posted by neroli at 4:34 PM on February 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Thank you for this post. This is very important stuff and should be mandatory viewing.
posted by jnnla at 4:37 PM on February 21, 2011


If you'd prefer instead to have the message of this program distilled into an eight minute extended funk workout, listen to Stevie Wonder's "Black Man".
posted by New Frontier at 8:25 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I was disappointed to find the only evidence for his "high African culture" was the use of African art by Impressionists, which is a fun art history tidbit, but sort of dodges the question of what life in Africa was like before Europeans arrived.

I haven't watched the videos yet, but that is by far not the only evidence for Africa as an advanced and sophisticated culture on par with Europe prior to the colonial era.

I mean, just type "African History" into the search bar at wikipedia or something. Jeez.
posted by Sara C. at 5:07 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


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