He throws the blame back to the community, and prophecies doom if they don't do something about it, because nobody else can do it for them. Most certainly not the white man, not the government, not even God. "You can't keep asking that God will find a way," he shouts. "God is tired of you."
Inspired by Cosby, journalist Juan Williams followed up with a book titled "ENOUGH: The phony leaders, dead-end movements, and culture of failure that are undermining Black America--and what we can do about it." Then Cosby, along with Dr. Alvin Poussaint, came out with "Come on, People," a manifesto and a guide for communities to raise themselves up from victims to victors. And the May issue of The Atlantic has an excellent article by Ta-Nehisi Coates, "This is How We Lost to the White Man," about Cosby's ongoing mission. All are excellent reads.
When I go home to the reservation, and as I hear about gangs, drugs, epidemic alcoholism, violence and crime there and on other reservations, it strikes me that Indian country should take note of the Cosby challenge. It is likely that we will hear that same challenge from Obama, if he is elected, and on down through the federal agencies. Change, they will tell us, comes from the bottom up, not from the top down.
I briefly talked about this recently in a lecture to a group of teachers, and one of them asked, "Does Indian country have a Bill Cosby-type person to carry out such a crusade?" I responded that it would take a person of great courage, and a person not in tribal politics, because too much of what he or she would have to say would be unpopular truth--not the stuff to get him or her elected or re-elected to office. Cosby, for example, was immediately castigated and ridiculed by black political and academic leaders after his "pound cake speech," with the charge that he was "blaming the victim."
I'd say Cosby's message didn't ring a bell because it was so original and insightful. It rang a bell because he was a beloved national figure who unexpectedly took a controversial position. If Oprah Winfrey, Jesse Jackson, or Louis Farrakhan had said something like that, I doubt it would've created much of a stir. Because these people speak out often on social issues.
No one in Indian country is in the position Cosby was. Namely 1) a beloved national figure who 2) has rarely if ever spoken on social issues and 3) believes personal responsibility is the main problem. We'll just have to settle for thousands of less-than-famous educators, social workers, community leaders, activists, and artists saying what Trimble thinks no one is saying.