To the great surprise of a number of people, the venerable Bill Cosby, who has been looked upon as the epitome of fatherhood and morality due to his role as a television dad, has been found guilty on three counts of sexual assault. Predictably, the Black community is up in arms, claiming, for example, that he was targeted because he wanted to buy a major television network. Others say that the 60 female accusers are lying, or are gold diggers seeking a payday. Still others are making statements like “The White man has raped the entire planet…but y’all mad at Bill Cosby;” or “Why did the women wait so long to complain?” Others are saying “I think it is all BS.” Still others are mocking the physical appearance of the accuser, Andrea Constand, saying that Bill Cosby would never have even looked at her because of how unattractive she appears. Additional commenters point to other alleged abusers like Donald Trump, Matt Lauer, Charlie Sheen, Harvey Weinstein, and Bill O’Reilly, asking why Bill Cosby is the only one convicted. Basically, it appears that the majority of African Americans are automatically outraged by the court’s ruling to convict Cosby for the charges against him.
Most likely these musings are the knee-jerk reactions of Black people who feel that they have lost a great legacy. Bill Cosby was revered as a paragon of virtue, and now that image has been tarnished. For them, it is as though the whole community has been tarnished. For many of them, it seems as though truth has taken a back seat to emotion, since most of those who are convinced of Cosby’s innocence weren’t present during the trial.
The really sad thing about this situation is the vitriol that is aimed at the victims. Regarding the question as to why they waited until now to say something, the truth is that many of them did, but no one believed them. Moreover, they were often attacked and called horrendous names when they did step forward. This is enough to keep the faint-hearted from stepping up. One question that has surfaced is why is it that the attackers, especially the females, don’t understand this. There is probably a bit of self-hatred and misogyny in the mix.
Bill Cosby had everything going for him. He is rich, famous, and has an intelligent and beautiful wife. Maybe this was the problem; maybe he had so much that he became arrogant, thinking he was untouchable. But the cost of his situation has been great. Because of the faith invested in him by Black people, he stands to bring the whole community down with him when he goes to prison, if his appeal is not granted. Or so people think.
Actually, Bill Cosby, as a flawed human being, (as are most of us), has the good along with that which is not so good. Because of this, the good that Mr. Cosby has done does not have to go by the wayside. The example that he set as a fictional character is still valid, and can serve as an appropriate role model. The problem is that people have confused the fictional character with the man. Dr. Cliff Huxtable was not Dr. Bill Cosby.
Ultimately, it is really sad that Dr. Cosby has reached the ripe old age of 80 and might have to face multiple years in prison. This situation is surely taking a toll on his family. But while we are caught up in the Cosby crisis, let’s not forget the numerous victims of sexual improprieties like those who were allegedly maltreated by Cosby, R. Kelley, and others. We must understand that the trauma related with sexual misconduct and predation can linger, ultimately generating a wave of dysfunction throughout the community. In a serendipitous turn of events, the “Me Too” movement has received a shot in the arm as a result of this high profile case, and this may possibly represent a new day in the lives of millions of women at risk of sexual abuse and assault. A Luta Continua.