Gertrude Cosby answers “Is the glass half full or half empty?”

Listen Siblings, I come in peace,

“To black people like me, a fool is funny–you know, people who love to break bad, people you can’t tell anything to, folks that would take a shotgun to a roach.” — Mabel Lincoln

Gertrude Cosby, Bill Cosby’s grandmother, makes one popular “philosophical” question seem like nothing of import, rightly answering the riddle in seconds where some men of “book learning” pondered years to no avail. Her answer is especially informative because the question “Is the glass half full or half empty?” comes up by Africans whom, hit with ‘pessimistic’ facts (half-empty), suggest optimism (half-full); for instance, in response to how unproductive African people are where though our children attend schools, few of us, if any, manufacture bookbags–the retort would be “at least few among us are making bookbags;” or hit on the economic fact of 0.5% of the U.S.’ wealth being African, it’s seen as if 0.5% is alright (though we are 12% of the population and had 0.5% in 1860!) In essence, the riddle is used as a “paralysis of analysis” and a discouragement of organization. Though not anymore. When you read and understand Gertrude Cosby’s answer, you’ll learn how to dismiss the opposition and bravely organize our race! We’re growing. Count yourself among our ranks! Write as we build African Blood Siblings Community Centers for greater organization! Ours is a race to be restored! Subscribe, share, love.

Excerpt from “Cosbyology: Essays and Observations from the Doctor of Comedy”
by Bill Cosby

When you graduate from college, yes, you do have a degree, and yes, you have been studying the great writers with great professors and lecturers. You’ve figured out some answers to some pretty difficult questions and you’ve written some pretty good papers yourself. But you shouldn’t think that college can give you anything more than an education. It cannot teach you how to think. And you should never feel that, because you have an education, you are brighter than a person with a lesser one.

One day in debate class–I was at Temple University–the professor asked the students to come up with a position on a certain question and then defend that position. The question was: Is the glass half full or half empty?

Now this question seemed unanswerable. All my studying, all the books I read, all the education I had received couldn’t help me. My way of approaching the problem was to say the glass was both half full and half empty. But the professor had told us to take a position one way or the other and be prepared to debate it. I thought about it the rest of the day but nothing came to me.

So I went home that night–and my grandmother was there–and she saw me concentrating and so she asked me what was the matter.

“I’m supposed to figure out if the glass is half full or half empty,” I told her.

Without a moment’s hesitation, in a split second, my grandmother shrugged and said: “It depends on if you’re drinking or pouring.”

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7 thoughts on “Gertrude Cosby answers “Is the glass half full or half empty?”

  1. Very good answer. Another way of saying: It depends on one’s perspective how they will see the contents of the glass, since the glass is both half full and half empty. It’s just two ways of saying the same thing. How it is expressed then is subjective.

    I will be seeing Bill Cosby at the Palace Theatre in Albany in a week. I know it’s going to be a joyous evening.

    1. His heart is in the right place, but his method, like most, is off. If you can speak to him after the show–imagine!–it would be opportune to tell him to promote organization. Critiques on us are valid; but without promoting organization those critiques are futile.

      The grandmother’s quip also tells us that if the glass is emptying then it is half empty and if the glass is filling then it is half full. This alerts us to whether we should be optimistic or pessimistic. As it were, our progress is mostly emptying; so for instance 0.5% of the U.S.’ wealth is a sign of decline not growth and is not subjectively good but objectively bad.

      1. I think Bill Cosby promotes organization, but he doesn’t subscribe to any organizations that I know of. He is very vague about organization, with only a faint reference to organizing, but not through example. Here is an excerpt from his book “Come On People” written with Dr. Alvin Pouissant:

        …..Most poor people suffer from a lack of resources. They lack the power to get the attention they need. They lack the ability to pull themselves together as a community and to wield meaningful political influence…..

        This last sentence is about organization, but he seems to downplay it in his solutions:

        -Get All The School You Can Get
        -Take Any Legitimate Job
        -Maintain Your Independence
        -Beware The Trap (Welfare)
        -Stay Out Of Debt
        -Break The Chains(Materialism)
        -Get Control Of Your Finances
        -Help The Poor Help Themselves
        -Spread The Word About Education
        -Commit Your Heart To The Effort
        -Support Local Business
        -Give Children a Two Parent Home

        This is a list of most of the solutions he and Dr. Alvin Poussaint offer. They are all individual oriented. I think it downplays the absolute environment of White Supremacy we live under. In other words the “Big Picture”. He would do well to read “Blue Print For Black Power” by Dr. Amos Wilson. Dr. Wilson also offers many of the same solutions, but with a difference. He does not down play the power of the context in which we as Black people exist; And that is one of White Supremacy, which is an organization whose goal is to hinder progress in the Black community. We must address how White Supremacy operates and neutralize it. As Dr. Wilson states: “Our very consciousness and brains have been altered whereby we operate in the best interest of others.” The problems facing the Black community run a lot deeper than Bill Cosby and Dr. Poussaint think. THERE ARE FUNDAMENTAL THINGS ABOUT BLACK PEOPLE THEMSELVES THAT MUST BE DEALT WITH FIRST.

        Bill Cosby has been very successful in this White dominated society. He may not want to step too heavily on the White System’s toes. But I think the caring is genuine and there are some things we can still achieve on an individual basis.

      2. That’s the great illusion passing for common sense in America. The truth is that there’s no such thing as individual achievement. It’s so hard to convince our people of this and as long as we believe in the illusion we’ll continue to resist accomplishment.

        Only the organized can achieve. This is the truth of the Law of Nature: Survival. But whom does Nature choose to survive? The European calls it “the fittest” but we know better to specify “the Best Organized.”

        In no way is individual advice helpful to African people, if it neglects acknowledging the Law of Nature. For instance, Henry Ford didn’t complete school and he’s one of the wealthiest Europeans of all time. Henry Ford organized. It was his organization which made even the Great Depression pass him over. A Brother’s now telling me of the number of Professional women so many years ago who are now long-term unemployed. That’s because they are disorganized and went by the delusion that individuals can achieve.

        Our race is disorganized. Thus each and everyone of us outside of organization is doing poorly.

        It’s upon us to go each join a Political Organization, an Economical Organization, and a Cultural Organization. Bill Cosby is Organized. He’s Organized in European Economical Organizations. He’s more wealthy than most of us (in the European sense). Yet he must do for them. What’s more, without a Political or Cultural Organization he’s no more liberated than the rest of us. It’s difficult, but it’s necessary, that we get our people to join African Organizations. Each and every one of us should be Organized Politically, Economically and Culturally. As we are not–we will not achieve. It’s my hope that more will seek to join the ABS. It’s apparent that our race depends on our becoming Organized.

  2. G Wiz, I always thought that myself. It’s the diffenrece between the “Occidental” and the “Original.” One attempts to fragment the world and see it without “context” so as to entirely dominate the present situation already engineered by those in power

    if you want to measure the “crime” then measure the provocation and the multiple stress factors that go into creating the conditions that give rise to the response.

    1. I’ve been holding back on a story of the Dahomey Empire for multiple reasons. One of course is, as an African in America, I look upon that slave trading empire with little admiration. Separately, the Amazons of Dahomey were so strong–able to kill bulls with their bare hands–that I do not know how to title a document to say that while also telling another story. Lastly, I hadn’t really grasped the significance of retelling that story.

      Yet now I have some insight. Unfortunately, because of Sociologists like Durkheim and Marx, we do relate crime to stress factors and provocation, yet these Sociologists, of whom others build, are not nearly as Knowledgeable as we give them credit for. So to say, Dahomey was a criminal in classical Africa, yet the factors aren’t present. More, we know Wall Street and Colonial England as criminals, so what really, really is the basis?

      To me, it returns to “Occidental Philosophy.” Actually, you can look at an alleged speech from a Dahomey King and you can see the Occidentalism and the Criminality, despite that he was well wealthy. In other words, “The key to all problems is the problem of consciousness” and anyone with a bias toward European Philosophy would be considered a criminal to someone with a bias toward African Philosophy.

      Hotep Brother, omalone1. We missed you all month. :)

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