Bill Cosby Speaks Out
Dr. William “Bill” Cosby and Dr. Alvin Poussaint
Dr. George McKenna
Dr. Brenda Wall
He is not just a comedian and an actor; Bill Cosby is an educator, a teacher, and strong advocate for family values and against violence.
By Yussuf J. Simmonds
Sentinel Managing Editor
Recently, a terrible tragedy occurred in Richmond, California, a suburb of San Francisco …. so terrible is this tragedy that though it may have shocked the conscience of the nation, it also seemed to have de-sensitized and numbed massive public response. A group of about 9 young men gang-raped a 15-year-old girl outside her high school homecoming dance while others looked on and did nothing. According to Richmond police officers, the assault took place in a dimly lit area and the perpetrators ranged in ages from 15 to 21 years old.
Bill Cosby, father of four daughters and a son (deceased), and a very concerned parent, has taken the lead to vociferously speak out against that type of savagery and the brutality, in an effort to shake up the parents, teachers, pastors, etc. hoping to put a dent in the increasing tide of youth violence that seems to be invading the nation’s schools, families and neighborhoods from New York to Chicago to Long Beach–in between and beyond–and Richmond, California.
“Hello Richmond and all points pertaining to behavior, SOME OF OUR YOUTH, and the people who are supposed to be guiding them upward and protecting them from unnecessary bad mistakes,” Cosby started, “Are there any such thing as good mistakes. Of course, there are; ones that we can learn from. Now, pertaining to the violent onslaught of this beautiful female who is now so badly violated, violently violated, her life has been stripped even without having all of the gory details,” he continued, “I can only think of the horror in my skin, from head to toe, the nerve-endings are chilling, most frightening, most horrible … only murder can top it.”
To describe Cosby’s outpouring over this tragedy as mere concern is an understatement. His emotional response was so intimately graphic that it seemed to have touched him personally–and being a father of four daughters, it must have. As he continued, “This beautiful 15-year old child, who someday may give birth/give life to a male, has been desecrated by these assailants, and as a result, she could have nightmares and lifelong pictures that she can never ever really erase from this violent episode of her life.”
Then Cosby called on the nation to join him in this endeavor, this appeal to save the children, the youth, and the leaders of tomorrow. He said, “I’m asking the communities that know of this kind of behavior–that walk away and walk around–saying only in the quietness of their own company, but doing nothing, to see this picture in their minds. Did it have to be their sister, their daughter, their cousin or their niece in order for them to do something?” He beseeched rhetorically and then followed, “You don’t need to go that far; the way they behaved were just like animals.
“We need to talk with each other; we need to not be afraid to speak out. We need to stop thinking that we are protecting our youth when they behave in this manner.” Cosby implored. “The first thing we must answer is ‘Why’ and that can only come about by talking to each other and talking to the youth. Forget where blame is going. We must continue to talk and find out what’s in their minds; not to imagine that just better schools or more jobs, etc., etc. First find out why it was all right to rip this child’s mind (and body) so that psychologically, she may never recover from this–to a life with a smile, to a life with a clear laughter. We must not close the door to behavior of this sort from some of our youth and from some of our grown people.”
In what seemed to be a final moment of supplication, a last ditch effort to save a generation of lost souls (minds, and bodies too), Cosby pleaded, “I say to you and I beg of you, talk to your youth and ask them, ‘Why’. Get together in groups! The grown-ups need to beg psychologists and psychiatrists to join you; go to the youth, go to their parents and their caregivers, and beware of the screaming and the anger and the yelling coming at you; it is nothing more than their fear, their pain for the crime they have committed. This is not dirty laundry; this is something that needs to be addressed.”
To add to Cosby’s concern/shock/outrage and shed some light on this terrible incident and its causes, the Sentinel reached out to a group of educators–two men and a woman–who are all experts in the field of young people’s behavior: Dr. Alvin Poussaint, Dr. George McKenna and Dr. Brenda Wall. They seem to draw parallel observations regarding the tragedy and its ramifications on society as a whole.
Dr. Poussaint, the renowned professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and he was the production consultant of the Cosby Show related his view as an expert on the subject of violence in society. He stated, “About 15 years ago, an article was written about violence in connection with the abuse of women and the pervasiveness of these kinds of assaults occur throughout society, and it’s not just sex, as it is violence to degrade women.”
In the case of the Richmond incident, he said, “There’s the snitch element, one of the factors that come into play here,” referring to the onlookers who did nothing. “Some of the other kids believe that by calling the police, they’d be putting themselves at risk, physically,” he continued. “So their silence is maintained by a threat of violence towards people who snitch to the police–no matter what they do, even though it was a killing … even if they had killed that girl.
“From what I know and saw on TV, I think they (the onlookers) identified with the perpetrators. It also showed the state of some neighborhoods,” said Dr. Poussaint. “The young people in particular are out of control and have a value system in their heads with adopting violence as one of the ways of letting out their frustrations … one of the ways of letting out their anger and even one of the ways, in America, of having fun. It was like putting on a show and giving people a thrill–themselves and the people watching. Some of what is taking over in the heads of these kids is like a reality show. If you look at reality shows, a lot of them are about inflicting harm and hurt on other people … bringing down other people … the competing is harsh and they tend to portray as the most interesting stuff … the stuff that’s most diabolic. So all the violence in the media, in the movies that’s imparted in these young people’s heads and they are more likely to act out these things the more vulnerable they are.”
Dr. McKenna, a lifetime educator and superintendent in the Los Angeles School District, who turned a violent-proned inner city school around into a college-bound institution, echoed some of the same sentiments. He said, “We live in a community call America that uses violence too easily for entertainment, too easily for profit and too easily for settling disputes, and children are affected by the culture in which they live. They see it on television … they are inundated by it and the people that produce these products make money from it so they believe that children should be able to differentiate between reality and fiction.
“The incident that occurred in Richmond is unacceptable by any standards whether it was one person committing it and even more horrific when multiple people do it. Now that is not to excuse any act of violence but there are reasons that people are immune about hurting other people,” said Dr. McKenna.
Dr. Wall, a noted clinical psychologist, an expert in penal psychology and former university professor chimed in with similar sentiments. She stated, “We will pretend with our collective outrage and denial that we do not know how this could have happened or why in the world this happened. We will forget the movies we saw, the video games our children saw and the pornographic industry’s images that have penetrated adolescent culture. The reality shows that market women of limited insight and expansive materialism, are imposed role models for the mothers of young girls. What results is a value that distorts the appreciation of women not much beyond an object of physical gratification. We groom our girls to become proficient in promoting their bodies and hope it lands them the ching-ching. Exploitation of women becomes the norm and sexualized prowess by men replaces love, commitment and relationship. All of this is overlooked until we see our daughter (or son) devastated by violence and encircled with our fear and shame. Then it becomes clear that we have abandoned our posts.”
These three behavioral scientists in addition to Dr. Cosby have extended their time, energy and talent in an effort to try and reverse the prevalence of violence among the youth in American society, by showing some of the causes and the effects–the good, the bad and the ugly.
The young victim of the attack has been released from the hospital and the Richmond Police Department hopes that a $20,000 reward will bring more people forward with information.
Cosby concluded referring to an old gospel hymn: “Onward Christian soldiers marching onto war … Come on People!”