Attorney Antonio Moore gives a critique of the Bill Cosby prison sentence, and the lasting legacy of the Cosby show on Black America. Moore gives a scathing evaluation of the impact both Cosby’s trial, and his show have had on American racial progress. He looks deep into the surrounding economics around The Cosby Show when it aired. The fairness of Cosby’s sentence, and the fantastical economics of the Huxtable family.
“Cosby Show Dreams and African American Financial Realities“ by Antonio Moore
But, to this I have to say undoubtedly the Huxtables were presented as a wealthy black family, and not shown as middle class. We cannot fail to recognize this fact. I believe we have done just that as we remember their presentation every week in our homes by NBC. As stated in the piece above, “White racism and The Cosby Show” in reference to Cosby’s character, “significant too was a critical aspect of his persona-he never raged or despaired.”
To explain further, we can simply look at the home they lived in to support the statement on their financial position. When businessinsiders.com recently assessed the home the Huxtable’s lived in during the early 1980’s, they stated,
LOCATION: While viewers believed the Cosby clan lived in Brooklyn Heights, the real home was located at 10 Leroy Street in the West Village. THEN: In 1984, a Brooklyn Heights brownstone would have gone for around $700,000. NOW: A Brooklyn Heights town house would cost $5-$7 million, estimates Corcoran.
Giving this context in the early 1980’s normal home loans were given at a rate above 15 percent, a loan of this type would have been likely considerably higher. In addition, a prospective buyer would have to come with anywhere from 10-20 percent or more of the home value as the down payment.
On the low end this family would have had to put down over $100,000 in cash, and paid a mortgage of $8,000 a month in the early 1980s. That would be the equivalent of a $18,000 mortgage today. By any stretch of the imagination, that is not the story of the black middle class. In fact, as I showed in a piece earlier this year “America’s Financial Divide: The Racial Breakdown of U.S. Wealth in Black and White” today in present dollars according to a report by Credit Suisse only 5 percent of black American families even have $350,000 in total assets. So we can only imagine how small the number of black families that had access to $100,000 for a down payment was in 1984.
Relying on data from Credit Suisse and Brandeis University’s Institute on Assets and Social Policy, the Harvard Business Review in the article “How America’s Wealthiest Black Families Invest Money” recently took the analysis above a step further. In the piece the author stated “If you’re white and have a net worth of about $356,000 dollars, that’s good enough to put you in the 72nd percentile of white families. If you’re black, it’s good enough to catapult you into the 95th percentile.” This means 28 percent of the total 83 million white homes, or over 23 million white households, have more than $356,000 dollars in net assets. While only 700,000 of the 14 million black homes have more than $356,000 dollars in total net worth.