27 July, 2015

Hey, hey, hey - Fat Albert wouldn't do that, would he?

Do you remember the cartoon Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids? It showed on Saturday morning when I was a kid. It was about a bunch of kids in inner-city Philadelphia, who ran into trouble each week, but then learned some lesson about how to a better friend or a kinder, stronger person. Fat Albert (voiced by Bill Cosby) was the moral compass of the group, and he always helped people stand up to the bully, ask for help from a responsible adult, and do the right thing. He taught kids to be kind.

I really loved it when I was a kid. I looked it up and the show started when I was in 3nd grade and went off the air after I graduated from high school, so it had a good run.

I'll be honest, it has been a hard couple of months. Last month was the one year anniversary of my friend Toni's death. She is never far from my thoughts. Earlier this spring, a friend's young wife, in the midst of a terrible depression, took her own life, leaving a shattered husband and a young daughter behind. The news is full of murder and mayhem. I was pulled over by a police officer today for a broken taillight, and my thoughts went immediately to my brothers and sisters who might reasonably fear that this could be the traffic stop that lead to their incarceration or death just for having brown skin. I am a mess.

Yesterday I read the horribly disturbing article in New York magazine that Bill Cosby, who in real life was NO Fat Albert, in between making movies, starring in tv shows, doing comedy tours, and making Jello commercials, was also giving women drugs and raping them. I'll never think about Fat Albert in the same way again. Dr. Huxtable, with all those young daughters, now seems creepily suspect.

I am trying to hold on to the words of Mr. Rogers, another person who tried to help kids be kind:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

But some days, it is hard to see the helpers when it seems like the world is mad and getting madder.

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