Whatever one may make of Cosby’s diagnoses and prescriptions, one thing is clear: he’s no hustler. On the contrary, he’s a very rich and respected cultural figure who, by wading into these waters, only risks alienating millions of people whose affection and admiration for his work have made his fortune. Yet he’s taken this step because he recognizes that the black “leaders” of our era (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton) and the academic Black Studies establishment (Gates, West, Karenga) not only have failed to say things that need to be said, but have in many cases encouraged the kinds of pathologies Cosby is alarmed about.
Not surprisingly, a leading black academic, Michael Eric Dyson, has taken on Cosby in a very big way. Dyson, who has taught at DePaul, the University of North Carolina, Columbia, Brown, and the University of Pennsylvania, is now a professor of sociology at Georgetown University and can frequently be heard serving up commentary on NPR, CNN, and Real Time with Bill Maher. In addition, he is an ordained minister who, in 2010, at the upscale New York restaurant Cipriani, officiate at the wedding of a deejay named La La and a pro basketball played named Carmelo Anthony, who at the time were starring in a VH1 reality series. (“The 320 guests,” according to Dyson’s Wikipedia entry, “included Justin Timberlake, Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, Lamar Odom, Ciara, Spike Lee, Ludacris, Kelly Rowland, and LeBron James.”) Dyson, it should be noted, is considered an academic star and is paid a salary in the high six figures. This means that he’s several times more handsomely compensated than many of America’s most distinguished scholars in the humanities and social sciences—or, to look at it in another way, he takes home a bigger paycheck than any dozen or so adjunct professors put together, people who are far more gifted and accomplished than he is and carry much heavier course loads.