Like the rest of…well…the entire country and possibly the world, this Bill Cosby scandal has left me with a wide variety of emotions. As a black woman, I feel sad, angry, disappointed, deceived and just plain victimized. I’m sad that the most positive image of black families we’d had prior to the Obamas is permanently tarnished. I can no longer watch reruns of the Cosby show and think of how I once hoped to marry a guy like Cliff so I could be Claire. I can no longer encourage my children to watch the show out of fear that they would idolize that image as well. I’m angry about that. I’m angry that one of the most positive eras of my childhood is erased and my kids will likely never know what all the fuss of my former Thursday night was about. I’m disappointed in Bill Cosby. A man who had just a lifetime of contributions to particularly Black America worthy of the history books just simply blew it! We expected better from him and he let us down! And yes, I’m disappointed at Camille Cosby too for still trying to stand up for a man who has degraded her to highest degree. As bad of a role model as Bill has proven to be, I pray that my daughters never become the type of women who will be with a man so outwardly disrespectful to them and think that’s acceptable or worthy of their loyalty and support.
The worst part of it all is that in a way, this has left all of black America as victims of his crime in addition to the actual victims. We’ve all been terribly deceived by our hero and left to wonder what it will take for us to heal and trust again. I know a good 95% of us who spoke out with conviction that the allegations were false and are now doubting everything we know to be true. As a culture, we are not unfamiliar with similar divisions between genders. It’s unfortunately not uncommon for a black woman to cry wolf against a wealthy black male celebrity for the purpose of financial gain. Black women judge other women for this frequently, as was the case with the 20 or so women that came out initially. Actually, it wasn’t until Beverly Johnson, a woman we all love and admire, spoke out against him that most of us began to even consider the question of whether or not he’d done it. (you know…because we know her so well). Again, this was after A LOT of other “no-name” women had already spoken out. After all, why would she want to “ruin” Bill Cosby?
The victimization still continues. Some couples are now finding conflicts in their relationships when one party continues to defend him or try to find a cause to justify his actions. We are victims of a society that finds upset with the women for bringing their truth out and thus ruining our fantasy worlds. Our children are victims of lost art, as they may never witness the comedic genius of The Cosby Show. Moral of the story- everybody loses!
So where do we go from here? I wonder if other actual victims of rape (particularly by men of power) are actually empowered to tell their stories or still discouraged because of the potential outrage this tragedy has caused. I hope so, because regardless of the damage that has or could occur, I pray these women understand that the only person who could’ve prevented it is their violator.
As for Black America…we may have lost our childhood hero, but hopefully we have not lost the lesson. Despite all, we have gained quite a bit from his contribution to our society through his TV show, books, speeches, etc. We’ve grown up to build supportive families. We’ve found ways to find some work-life balance and become excellent parents and loving spouses. Even more powerful than seeing a black doctor and lawyer on TV, we see a black President and First Lady. We’ve educated countless young men and women through his sponsorships and foundations. Yes, there’s no doubt that the world has benefitted from Bill Cosby, but we will be ok.
Perhaps someday The Cosby Show reruns will start to air again and we can enjoy Claire and the rest of the Huxtable clan, but until then, we have to let justice take its course.