WASHINGTON – Bemoaning an increasing tendency of parents to "manage their kids' lives by cell phone," entertainer Bill Cosby (search) pleaded Wednesday with fathers, mothers, teachers and other authority figures to work harder to improve the lives of black children.
"With all the systemic racism that pounds at us every day, there is nothing that will defeat parenting," the comedian and education activist told an audience of about 500 people during a panel discussion at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's (search) annual legislative conference.
In the schools, Cosby said many students have "a great deal of anger" that goes unnoticed by educators because of a lack of psychologists and psychiatrists. Underlying problems at home, such as child abuse, can go undetected, Cosby said.
That anger, he said, manifests itself in the profanity-laced language that some kids use today.
"It's very important to call ourselves on it and look in the mirror, but we need all of our players involved and we need to be galvanized," Cosby said.
Wearing sunglasses and dressed in a tan suit, Cosby again stood by remarks he made in May in which he criticized certain segments of the black community on issues from their grammar to complaints about police brutality.
The comments had been construed by some as an elitist attack on the poor.
"As far as I'm concerned, come at me all you want. Write all the articles you want, because you are not making any sense," he said, eliciting applause from the crowd.
Earlier in the day, former Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton (search), black caucus members and other leaders and academics met over breakfast with Cosby to show support for the entertainer's comments and discuss the behavior of black youth.
Sharpton's National Action Network announced it would start a media campaign designed to "bring black families together" and conduct studies about how to improve the black community.