Comedian, author and native Philadelphian Bill Cosby posed a serious question yesterday to the audience at a Save Our Children forum in the auditorium of Community College of Philadelphia.
He first asked audience members who had lost loved ones to violence to stand up. More than 75 percent of those in the room stood.
"This is insane," he said. He then asked his question, "Where are we going as parents, as people?"
Speaking in simple, blunt terms, Cosby urged parents not to address their children in negative ways.
"Your child's name is not n-----, your 2-year-old child's name is not mother------," Cosby said, to rousing cheers and just a few gasps from parents in attendance.
Cosby's main issues in his keynote address as one of a number of speakers at the Community College-sponsored "Save Our Children - Exhoodus Tour" were parenting, education and drug-selling, all of which he touched on with just a hint of comedy.
Typical of Cosby's style of stinging and controversial commentary, he also faulted the love shown to the late rapper Tupac Shakur. He said it was crazy for Shakur, who was fatally shot in Las Vegas in 1996, and his mother to enjoy the proceeds from Shakur's drug sales.
"In the book, 'To Momma With Love,' or something like that, he is so happy that he's able to take money from selling cocaine and give the money to his mother," Cosby said.
"How wonderful. Isn't that wonderful. You've got to be kidding. How many lives have you ruined selling packets? How many mothers are not going to go to work because they want to snort? How many dead mothers because of crack, how many babies we got to make turn around because they are crack babies?"
Cosby said the house Shakur bought his mother should be adorned with the pictures of users who died due to drug use.
"Hang up the pictures of the people's lives you ruined," Cosby declared.
Cosby also briefly addressed the criticisms he has endured recently, saying that he doesn't pick on the poor but rather, he tells it like it is.
"[People say] 'Bill Cosby is picking on the poor.' I couldn't care less," Cosby said, with a little edge in his voice. "I'm telling you why your child is sad inside. I would keep my mouth shut if [parents] were doing things."
Cosby also said that he had the right to say what he says because he came from where the people he was addressing came from.
"Up to the age 26, [I lived at] 6159 N. 41st Street," Cosby said. "So don't play games with me. I've seen all of you, whether you are rich, poor or middle-income. And I know when you talk too much, and I know why you talk too much. And that's why I can say what I want to say."