Past Event

Café Society: Was Bill Cosby Right? Race, Class & Gender-The Welfare State & Personal Responsibility

In May 2004, Bill Cosby went before the NAACP and shared his feelings about African-Americans and responsibility for poverty, education and advancement. Asserting that personal responsibility cannot be evaded with excuses, he chastised the black community for using the issue of racism to turn aside its own culpability in the many problems faced by African- Americans in the United States today.

He expressed an ideology that many people in the United States share: that individuals in marginalized communities, people of color, women and people living in poverty, are responsible for changing their circumstances.

Responsibility for our own actions and welfare is a foundation of civilized society. Historically, this idea has combined with a broader sense of community responsibility and accountability to allow us to live cooperatively, side by side. In this age of community breakdown and isolation, what role, if any, can the government play in restoring this sense of responsibility to fractured communities?

Additionally, how does a social justice analysis of oppression rest in balance with concepts of personal responsibility? Are analyses of institutional racism, sexism, classism simply fancy ways to shift blame for our success or failures to others?

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For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.