I was reminded of the blistering attack on what we now call gangsta culture by black comedian Bill Cosby in his Pound Cake speech back in 2004 in a comment piece by Dominic Lawson writing in The Independent today.
I wonder what those who damned David Starkey’s albeit clumsy invective on the same theme – people who tweeted their condemnation before their brains connected with their thumbs like Labour leader Ed Miliband, BBC’s Robert Peston, and CNN’s Piers Morgan - would have made of Cosby’s observations.
He was addressing a NAACP celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the court ruling, which ended racial segregation in American schools.
Cosby feared the sacrifices of courageous campaigners made half a century before were being squandered.
“These people who marched and were hit in the face with rocks and punched in the face to get an education and we got these knuckleheads walking around who don’t want to learn English,” he thundered.
Starkey oversold the case for dumping the riots on gangsta culture. But in making clear he believed black and white youngsters were united in adopting the "fashion", acquitted him of the charge of racism even if he was foolish enough to drag Enoch Powell into his assessment.
In focusing on “this Jamaican patois that’s been intruded into England," there is an echo of Cosby’s objections.
“Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads,” said the comedian. “You can't land a plane with “why you ain't...” You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth.”
Cosby caused a storm with his speech because he addressed it directly to the black community. “We have to begin to build in the neighbourhood, have restaurants, have cleaners, have pharmacies, have real estate, have medical buildings instead of trying to rob them all.” Telling it how it is isn’t being racist.
Cosby, who is 74, is still making audiences laugh and fighting the cause of better education and parenting for all of America's less privileged schoolchildren.
The two go hand in hand whatever the colour of your skin – and long may he continue to do so.
Read Cosby's speech here.