It’s practically a full year since the public was reminded of Bill Cosby’s horrendous rape allegations via a comedy routine by Hannibal Burress. I’d say it’s a done deal that his sterling silver reputation is unsalvageable as it seems that every new month or so, one or two more accusers emerge to say that the puddin’ pop authority and respectable politics advocate raped them.
Recently, it’s been made abundantly clear how far the Cos has fallen as Ebony’s recent issue’s cover displays a shattered image of the cast of the beloved Cosby Show with a huge hole over Cosby’s face. The cover alone has caused quite a stir on and offline. Half the people support the cover, while the other half is disgusted by it as they still believe that Cosby is the innocent victim in all this. And the ones who are at fault, according to them, are the 50-plus women.
It’s easy to see why people hold dear to the Cosby Show’s legacy despite the current hurricane of rape allegations. It showed America a different side of black America, the side that is rarely seen if not imagined. The Cosby Show was about a successful black family living the American dream. Some of the problems, including racism, didn’t exist in that universe. In a way, it showed that black people can indeed “make it”, and that racism was a thing of the past during the administration of perhaps one of America’s most racist presidents.
Some black folks look to the Cosby Show as the Holy Grail of television. They consider it as the blueprint for positive black imagery hardly seen on television back then and in small doses today. And the Huxtables were seen as the anti-stereotype of the way black people, families especially, were seen in the white-owned media.
But the actors behind the show are real people, and with ole’ Bill’s past springing up and Raven Simone’s “New Black-isms”, especially her recent hang up about not hiring black folks with black-sounding names, some of them are quite dysfunctional.
I often hear from Cosby’s defenders why must these allegations surface now? I often ask why not now? Perhaps it has something to do with the current racial climate. With Black Lives Matter still rolling and black lives continue to be taken by law enforcement, it’s a safe bet that Cosby’s rape allegations are not helping in any way.
Many people feel that these allegations of rape against Cosby is shaming black America. Some people feel that black America’s image is tarnished because of it. They hate hearing about it, especially when a new accuser pops up, because it perpetuates the stereotype of the black male rapist, a stereotype among many, that black people struggle to get rid of. Bill Cosby helped to turn the stereotype into a reality in the worst way. In my mind, we should be furious at him, not try to defend him. The fact is many black folks believe in respectability politics, the kind Cosby used to preach, more or less, and with that, you would think they would be pissed off at Cosby for becoming America’s famous serial rapist instead victim blaming the women.
I admit. I struggle with this everyday. I wonder how Cosby’s rape allegations would impact black America as we are all collectively judged by individual screw-ups. I wonder how it would impact his shows’ legacy. After all, he’s not just famous for the Cosby Show. There’s also Fat Albert and I Spy, to name a couple. Can those shows see the light of day again on the small screen, or should they be buried along with the love and admiration people had for Cosby? And I wonder what will become of all the parties involved. What will become of the women? What will become of the Cosby family? How will society as a whole handle rape and sexual assault after this? Will it change for the better, for worse or not change at all?
I know there are some of you who still support Cosby throughout this whole crisis, and I respect that. I don’t know if he is worthy of any support. I no longer became much of a fan after his infamous Pound Cake Speech. As conversations are ignited and will likely remain lit up for some time in the future, we must look at the gender-based and racial angles throughout this whole saga. Only by asking uneasy questions would we on the road to healing.