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Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?
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Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?

3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  272 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Michael Eric Dyson took America by storm with this provocative expose of the class and generational divide that is tearing black America apart. Nothing exposed the class and generational divide in black America more starkly than Bill Cosby’s now-infamous assault on the black poor when he received an NAACP award in the spring of 2004. The comedian-cum-social critic lamented ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 24th 2006 by Basic Civitas Books (first published 2005)
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Oct 23, 2007 Brock rated it did not like it
Dyson's argument, while well written, essentially adds up to 200ish pages of "Nuh-uh!" Seldom are the facts backed up by anything other than Dyson's own opinion, and it was actually hard to read this book because of the author's strictly one-sided view. For instance, despite the fact that there are different classes of black Americans, Dyson believes that black entertainers are obligated (that's right, obligated!) to only portray the struggle of the poor or discriminated, because to portray ...more
Feb 17, 2009 Lauren rated it liked it
After skimming over the many reviews on this book it's clear that Dyson elicits a strong reaction from readers, whether it be positive or negative. I had both. Reading Cosby's toxic statements about poor African-Americans is painful, but so is reading Dyson's 242 page picking apart of Cliff Huxtable.

Bill Cosby is a lightening rod for opinions from folks my age, as we were literally raised on him and view him as a father figure. While I disagree with Cosby's current opinions and am fascinated by
May 06, 2008 Angel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Once it became clear that the author was going to spend most of the book trashing on Cosby, I lost interest. Yes, Cosby is not perfect. He has his flaws; we get it already, move on with the argument. And the thing is, Dyson does make some important points about how social issues do have to be taken into account in regards to the poor. However, and I think he may not be totally clear or misses this, those social issues are not an excuse to not be personally responsible. The example he uses of the ...more
Jan 13, 2009 Aaron rated it it was ok
Shelves: igdi
I liked it but I was disappointed. Instead of using Cosby's "pound cake" speach as a microcosm representative of a certain segment of black society, he largely limits his arguments to every part and parcell of Cosby's rant. This does us much of a disservice because Cosby's words that night were obviously off the cuff and not thought out; and, more importantly, this method of examination give much too much credance to one indiviudual (influential though he may be). It was interesting, however, to ...more
Feb 08, 2012 Chris rated it it was ok
Shelves: black-issues
This could have been an excellent book with information and analysis on the origins and impact of class dynamics among African-Americans. Instead, its just a personal diatribe against Bill Cosby.
Jamie Nesbitt
Feb 05, 2011 Jamie Nesbitt rated it did not like it
I've been on page 38 since '08. It's a wrap.
As indicated by the title, this is Michael Eric Dyson's take on Bill Cosby's notorious rants of a few years ago lambasting the poor. For those who are unaware, Cosby took it upon himself to criticize poor blacks, especially youth, for a variety of issues including dressingly sloppily, promiscuity, not being able to "speak English correctly", irresponsible consumerism, and not parenting.

Dyson, in his typical fashion, seeks to explain the larger causes for each of these issues. While Cosby seeks t
David Ward
Jan 16, 2016 David Ward rated it did not like it
Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind? by Michael Eric Dyson (Basic Civatas Books 2005) (305.896073) is unlike anything I've ever read. The sole purpose of the book appears to be to deconstruct and belittle a speech Bill Cosby gave at an awards dinner sponsored by the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Howard University to recognize and praise Cosby's philanthropic endeavors on the fiftieth anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. The author took ...more
Chantelle M
Oct 30, 2013 Chantelle M rated it liked it
While I do agree with the author that Bill Cosby should not have used such a public platform to shame and demean poor African Americans, I think Bill Cosby's comments proved why he should not be speaking publicly about race and class at all. Dyson seems to believe that Black entertainers have a moral obligation to Black youth to be activists and openly discuss issues that many Black Americans face. He was highly critical of Cosby's colorblind comedy because he did not seek to be a voice for ...more
Aug 11, 2008 Dimka added it
Shelves: higher-learning
This was a response from the Cosby speech sometime last year at the NAACP honors or some event of.

I've finally gotten through this book. Frankly, I've been annoyed the whole time I read the book. Dyson makes his argument strongly against what Cosby has said about the black community with information about Cosby's past & family history but it hasn't change my opinion on the 'black community problem' debate.

In fact it makes me want to leave Mr. Dyson in Trenton NJ or Newark, NJ for a few days
Jan 12, 2010 RYCJ rated it really liked it
My question with this particular title were a few of the personal statements that (I guessed) were included to be a part of analyzing the Cos's statement. Perhaps these personal statements could have been used had the Cos made statements in the same to one particular individual... but from my take Cos was speaking in general. Right here (and I forget the philosophy term for arguements built this way) but this is where it made it difficult following Dyson's arguement.
Jun 09, 2008 Maya rated it it was ok
saw it in the airport bookstore and couldn't resist...this was a lot longer than it should have been. the thoughts were interesting, but i felt like this could have been done in 100 pages rather than over 200. i found myself groaning at times...strangely, the second to last chapter was the best one. too bad it didn't come at the beginning of the book. i could have read it and then, put the book down and saved myself the agony of having to get through the whole thing!
Sep 04, 2010 Bryon is currently reading it
this book is good and interesting at first i looked at what bill cosby said and i agreed with him 100% i looked around at the black community and i saw exactly what he was talking about but then as i continued to read i realized that micheal dyson's argument made much more since aand i realized that bill cosby sounded really crazy and non-factual. i have to finish reading but i go with michael what he says really makes since in my opinion....i would give this book to anyone..
Feb 04, 2008 Graham rated it liked it
Well, despite having what might very well be the worst cover design in the history modern day publishing, I actually liked this book. Perhaps just because I always hated BIll Cosby (even before he went on all those rants about why he hates poor black people). Not very academic, but I'm not sure it was meant to be. A very fast read.
Philadelphia Tee-roy
Dec 27, 2007 Philadelphia Tee-roy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone that would like a backround on more in depth backround on mr. high and mighty
In light of Mr. Cosby's crusade/tirade against black america this book was born it does a great job of showing cosby the mediocre student with an honourary doctorate that he didn't earn and a civil rights fight that he didn't want to be involved in in his time.That said I do believe many of cosby's points but this book will show the other side of the agument
Jun 23, 2012 Titus rated it really liked it
Dr. Dyson's book does a good job of exploring and scrutinizing the complex issues Bill Cosby mentioned in his speech. Despite the excellent scruinizing, the book could have been better if more informed reasoning, statistical analysis, case studies etc. were presented. Dr. Dyson's criticism of Cosby's speech is very poignant. I recommend this book.
Marc Hilt
The author seems to argue both sides of the same point, complaining Cosby didn't do more for his race by using race in his 60s comedy routines, but then calls his tirade against poor blacks today as coming from an area of incompetence. It is well written, but I don't think he can state so easily that blacks think about the issue of poverty in a more complex way than whites.
Mar 19, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Dr. Dyson struggled with this book. Yes we know he has a habit of inventing his own vocabulary but he rambled on and on. It is quite evident that his attacds on Mr. Cosby are more personal than anything else
Angie Powell
Jul 27, 2007 Angie Powell rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Very academic! I felt like I needed to take his course in order to understand some of the terms. I don't think he gave an objective opinion, mostly propaganda. He doesn't like Bill Cosby and doesn't believe he has any right to voice his opinions.
Mar 14, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it
I adore Bill Cosby and read this book on the recommendation of my good friend Curtis. I like Dyson and thought that he made some valid points but the book did nothing to diminish the respect I have for Mr.Cosby.... It was definitely worth the read!! Thanks,Curt
Nov 27, 2007 Jason rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Dyson is correct in pointing out that Cosby's attack on poor black America ignores situational causes, but his pages and pages of personal attacks on Bill Cosby do nothing to further his argument. He comes off sounding just as hate-filled and myopic as Cosby did, if not more.
Candace Johnson
Aug 16, 2014 Candace Johnson rated it liked it
I kind of enjoyed the book but I was annoyed by Dyson's argument. Half the time I kept thinking where you going with this? I'm pretty sure you could've summed up the whole book like this. "C'mon son, stop generalizing."
Oct 18, 2007 Shay rated it it was amazing
I like Dyson's approach in this book. He thoroughly examines the off handed derogatory remarks made by Bill Cosby with eloquence and class.
cosby likes to put all the blame on urban, disadvantaged blacks for not simply sucking it up and suggests they stop whining and shut the hell up.

dyson busts a verbal cap in his puddin pop ass.
Feb 26, 2008 Monique rated it it was amazing
That Bill Cosby is a hypocrite and talks a good talk when he's on the other side of the looking glass.
Oct 24, 2008 Melsbac rated it it was amazing
An excellent response to Bill Cosby's "speech" at the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Michael Eric Dyson goes into great detail to explain the disparity among blacks.
Jan 24, 2008 Michael rated it really liked it
I was against Cosby from the start of his tirade. This book put the icing on the cake. When your wife disagrees with your methods, then something has to be wrong!
Tony Weaver
Tony Weaver rated it it was ok
Apr 08, 2013
Nicole rated it liked it
Aug 29, 2014
Katherine Lavelle
Katherine Lavelle rated it really liked it
Jul 29, 2016
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Michael Eric Dyson is an American academic, author, and radio host. He is a professor of sociology at Georgetown University.
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“..And the same rapper who revels in a woman's finely proportioned behind may also speak against racism and on behalf of the poor, even as he encourages them not to look at hip-hop as their salvation.” 9 likes
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