"I feel like one of the good things that came with his comments is the reaction to them from both blacks and whites," he said. "I think it's good that white people want to talk about it.
"What could be bad about it, is if it results in people in the wider society not taking any responsibility," he said.
"We forget that there is a tremendous amount of neglect in these low-income communities."
Whitehead said he hopes Cosby's remarks haven't oversimplified the complex problems troubling poor black communities.
"As someone who studies these things, its very easy to look at the statistics and say, `Hey, these people need to do something,'" he said. "But when I go into these communities and I realize there are families who want to do right, but I begin to ask myself how do these people survive? It's much harder than statistics show."
Either way, Cosby could be strategically using his popularity and credentials (he holds a doctorate in education) as a call for action, Whitehead said.
"He could be putting himself out there to be roasted, just to do something drastic," he said.
Baltimore NAACP member Thelma Daley is eagerly waiting to see what Cosby says Tuesday at the convention.
"Who puts a harness on Bill Cosby? He's earned the right to speak his mind," she said.
"I think that everyone might not approve of the setting or the time that this message may be delivered, but sometimes we need to peel the banana and look at the core of what he's saying."
In May, Bill Cosby criticized the grammar of some poor African-Americans:
"I can't even talk the way these people talk, `Why you ain't', `Where you is' ... and I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. ... Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth."
In early July, Cosby fended off critics who said he was airing the black community's "dirty laundry."
"Let me tell you something, your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2:30 every day, it's cursing and calling each other n- - as they're walking up and down the street," Cosby said.
Source: Associated Press