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Cosby to critics: Let them stay mad

Says prodding of fellow blacks is to make people think
/ Source: The Associated Press

Bill Cosby says the opinions he’s expressed in his controversial prodding of fellow blacks are consistent with what he’s done as an entertainer for more than 40 years.

In several forums this year, the 67-year-old Cosby has criticized some black children for not knowing how to read or write, said some had squandered opportunities the civil rights movement gave them and unfairly blame whites for problems such as teen pregnancy and high dropout rates.

“I didn’t take this as a job,” Cosby told CNN’s Paula Zahn in an interview that was to air Thursday night. “I took this as an emotion. No, and I’m not stopping, either.”

As a young comic in the 1960s, Cosby said he didn’t want to be like other black comedians and talk about race issues.

“I don’t play that,” he said. “You’re not going to laugh at the color of my skin. You’re going to laugh with me at our similarities, and some of our differences. But I’m not going to have you, because this is not the time in this United States of America, where you’re going to laugh at what my people are suffering with.”

In the 1980s, “The Cosby Show” came out of seeing so many sitcoms with children smarter than their parents. It seemed many comedy writers had bad relationships with their parents and were trying to retaliate, he said. He wanted to depict parents as strong role models.

Even the cartoon characters in “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” were designed as misfits who made something of themselves, he said.

Cosby said the poet Maya Angelou told him, “You know, Bill, you’re a very nice man, but you have a big mouth.” He said he doesn’t mind that role as long as he makes people think.

And of his critics, Cosby said: “Let them stay mad.”