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Bill Cosby: Fallen Legacy

Bill Cosby Dr Huxtable

Well, the verdict is in and Bill Cosby has been found guilty of sexual assault so, hang onto your hats, because mine is not a popular stance on the issue. You might remember that back in late 2014, I wrote about this case as women (white and black) continued to step forward with allegations against him.  I cautioned against making judgements until this case played itself out in court. While this verdict saddens me, it also infuriates me because he threw away his legacy

Bill Cosby is a genius. He’s a prolific speaker, writer, entertainer, and businessman.  The things he managed to accomplish in racist America speaks volumes to the accolades he’s achieved and the pride he’s instilled in the Black Community.  There is a great divide among blacks because Cosby has also been viewed as an elitist who is out of touch with the lives of poor people.  But the truth of the matter is this: Cosby is a predator and a rapist, and the Black community should take a breath and stop defending the indefensible.

We can continue with the “war of the memes” and go down memory lane with Dr. Huxtable, but it doesn’t erase the fact that Bill Cosby drugged and preyed on women- whether it was 10, 20, or 30 years ago is irrelevant. He violated someone’s body, mind, and sense of safety- often without them being aware of it.  He, like many rich and powerful men, attempted to cover it up.  So, let’s go through some of the reasons we use to defend Cosby and why we should stop:

  1. He admitted to giving Quaaludes to women without their knowledge.
  • Seriously, if you personally knew someone like that, would you be so quick to make excuses for them?
  1. This is punishment due to his attempt to purchase NBC.
  • I’m pretty sure we can say this is a possibility. However, that is a huge stretch of the imagination when there were at least two allegations made against him (one recorded but never published) as early as the 80s. Not only that, but NBC was worth over 4 billion dollars at the time.  Cosby was not looking to purchase NBC by himself- he needed partners/investors/loans to accomplish this. Regardless of that, when it fell through, he had the same option as Oprah: start his own network. She did it with far less capital than what he supposedly was attempting to do.
  1. Historical rape of black women by white men
  • This is the most disturbing of all the excuses. Rape is rape no matter who perpetrates it.  It’s not news that black women have been raped by white men.  We’ve been raped by black men too. I would rather see a movement to bring the Weinsteins, Trumps, Collins (Steve) of the world to justice instead of using this as a defense. Remember, he assaulted or sexually harassed black women too.
  1. “Steve Collins admitted to molesting children – not raping GROWN WHITE WOMEN” / Woody Allen got a pass because he’s white…
  • Both rape and pedophilia are heinous crimes. So… are we suggesting that Cosby gets a pass because the victims are ADULTS (and white)?? If molesting children is disgusting to an individual, then raping anyone should be just as vile and unacceptable.
  1. It’s a distraction because it directs us away from more important issues going on in the black community.
  • No, it doesn’t. Its difficult to be distracted by Cosby when we’re constantly immersed by reports of black people being killed by police, arrested in restaurants, or forced off golf courses and trains.  This man raped women – both black and white. He was found out, tried, and convicted (of one but lets face it, he got lucky).  I believe that energy should be best delegated to those other issues instead of fiercely defending a sexual predator.
  1. Some of the women lied about the rapes.
  • Yes, they did. But he also admitted securing drugs, he’s made jokes about Spanish Fly, and he settled with Constrand. His pattern of behavior has been established. Any women who lies about rape is a sick opportunist but that is still not a defense for what he’s done.  Hasn’t Trump’s pattern of behavior as a racist, liar, and sexual predator been established? Well, so has Cosby’s. The only difference between the two is that Bill Cosby had a solid reputation as a person of character and, an enduring legacy and the other one…

Here’s the thing… I’m most angry because Bill Cosby did this to himself.  Phylicia Rashad is quoted as saying “What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated. I don’t know why or who’s doing it, but it’s the legacy. And it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture,” she said. “This show represented America to the outside world. This was the American family. And now you’re seeing it being destroyed. Why?”  Why? Well, sadly, because he couldn’t keep it in his pants.  He’s not Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, or Philando Castille.  He wasn’t minding his own business when along came the police or ‘the system’ to ruin his life.  HE THREW IT ALL AWAY. He literally gave it away.

Bill Cosby built a legacy that should’ve produced accolades speaking highly of his laurels.  Instead, he allowed his ego to catapult him into a perverted abuse of his wealth and power.  It doesn’t matter the race of the victims because every sexual predator has a type.  People love to forget that. His type was white women and light-skinned black women who could almost pass for white.  He knew what he was doing when he made the comment about Spanish Fly just as Donald Trump knew and understood that “grabbing her by the pussy” was something to be proud of.  The look of perverted glee on Cosby’s face when he said it tells us what his mindset is.  Cosby provided his enemies with the ammunition they needed to destroy him.  He, of all people should’ve known that White America would not give him a pass. That, eventually, the bill would become due.

We keep forgetting that this is a highly educated and intelligent man- emphasis on man– prone to human errors and frailty of character. He’s not perfect – none of us are. Cosby never imagined he would ever be called out or, that it would take such a tragic turn.  But… here we are, fighting among ourselves about “them destroying him because he wanted NBC”. To be honest, I think that he stepped on the wrong toes and someone set out to get a devastating revenge.  But he still committed a crime.

Bill Cosby was once quoted as saying The lower economic people,” he said, “are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things for their kids — $500 sneakers for what? And won’t spend $200 for “Hooked on Phonics!”  Well, Bill Cosby, you did not hold up your end in this deal.  You allowed your misogynistic and egotistical personality to blind your judgement.  Now, at 80 years old, you have left us with a new legacy – one of sadness and anger. You allowed for the evidence and destruction of your legacy- one that was to be a beacon of endurance to our culture.  You’ve created a new space of dissension among black people – including “the lower economic people” as they argue among themselves to make sense of what you’ve done. Lastly, rape victims are being victimized because they were ashamed to come forward earlier and future victims will remember this. That is what you’ve left us.

Black people, please – let us mourn the loss of the icon he used to be and, accept the fact that he is a disappointment to the people he claimed to represent- you. There is no washing over the fact that he is a rapist and a sexual predator.  There aren’t enough news stories you can share or memes you can post (pointing out the unfairness of him not getting away with it as white men have done) to cover up what Bill Cosby has done to himself, his wife, his children, and Black Americans.

So, when you post those memes to juxtaposition the crime he’s been convicted of vs the free pass that those white celebrities have enjoyed, be honest and call it what it is.  Try this “It is unjust that Bill Cosby, a convicted rapist, was rightfully convicted for his crime while Steve Collins, a pedophile, hasn’t been charged or punished for molesting children. They both violated the safe space of people and should both be punished.”  Say that. But let’s stop trying to rehabilitate Cosby’s image.  He put it in a shredder. It’s gone. That, is the biggest and most painful tragedy that we must comprehend.

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The Survival of a Cop Killer

police-1537106_1280A cop has died.  On Monday night (Oct. 9), a 19-year-old Texas student was taken into custody. While being processed, he pulled out a gun and shot the officer in the head, fatally wounding him.  The young man, identified as Hollis Daniels, fled the station on foot.  After a lock-down of the station and pursuit of the suspect, Hollis was finally apprehended.  As horrifying and sad as the officer’s death has been, something else occurred that is tragically and glaringly obvious… Daniels is still alive.

That sounds like a harsh statement but truth of the matter is, it hurts my soul. Because this, without question, represents the cornerstone of everything Colin Kaepernick kneeled for and blacks won’t shut up about! Right here… again- an armed violent white person commits a heinous crime and walks away with a beating heart.

It’s becoming uncomfortable to try ignoring what no longer can be ignored: Black people are endangered in this country. The reason is simple… black skin equals clear and present danger. It’s akin to standing in the middle of a busy expressway. Black skin incites fear, violence, and death and appears to produce an instant discomfort that seems to put others on high alert.  I’ll pause here to state the obvious: of course, not all non-blacks/whites feel it, but deep down, most cannot pretend it’s not there. It needs to be discussed because people are dying for no reason. Encounters with police appear to be detrimental to black health. Yet, police encounters with whites appear to be harmful to their own well-being.

Eliza Wasni is a 16-year-old who managed to openly steal a knife and a machete from a Walmart store in Skokie, IL and use it to murder 34-year-old Uber driver, Grant Nelson. After waving the weapons at officers, Wasni was taken into custody after she was tasered by police. Laquan McDonald wasn’t so lucky.  The 17-year-old was shot sixteen times while wielding a knife and moving away from officers.  Last year a Brooklyn resident Robert Crumb, killed his wife, stabbed his daughter, and after crashing his car into a gas station, he then attacked the officer whose gun was drawn and pointing directly at Crumb’s chest. Crumb continued to advance, threw the officer to the ground, and was eventually pulled off by other cops.  Yet we watched in horror as police shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice within two seconds of officers stopping their vehicle.  Tamir had a toy gun. Can we say it again: Black Lives Matter.

Before I go into BLM vs Black-on-Black crime, let’s talk about the problem of white privilege and the dirty little secret of the police department that neither they nor the media wants to discuss. In 2016 there was a huge increase in police killed on the job- a whopping 59% increase.  Of those killed, 71% were by the hands of whites.  Yet, as Shaun King states, the media has been silent.  This is clearly an uptick from an earlier study that was posted in Newsweek in 2015 which states “In 2013, 44 percent of cop killers were white, 37 percent were black and 11 percent were Hispanic. Last year, 54 percent were white, 26 percent were black and 18 percent were Hispanic.”  What’s wrong with this picture?

The conclusion I draw is that police are not threatened by white skin and because of that, they are dying on the job. Because they move around in this world with a privilege not enjoyed by others, they automatically extend it to the white criminals they encounter on the job.  Even Dylan Roof was fed a meal on his way to jail after he shot up a black church and murdered 9 people.  That’s privilege, plain, simple, and painful.

Inevitably, whenever one says Black Lives Matter, people want to compare it to the blue unicorn called “Black-on-black” crime.  That is because they don’t understand what SYSTEMIC racism is and that it exists in EVERY FACET of Black and brown Lives. It’s NOT just about police-on-black crime!! It’s about the educational system, the grade school-to-prison pipeline, the Criminal Justice system, and a myriad of other issues plaguing the black/brown communities within that “System”. A system, mind you, that is a living, breathing, and ever-churning machine of corruption. Black-on-black crime is a separate issue, so crunching numbers to dismiss #BLM is an irrelevant comparison. Studies in 2016 show that roughly 84% of Whites are killed by Whites and about 90% of Blacks are killed by Blacks- which makes sense because crimes are usually committed by the group we’re in the closest proximity to.  It’s safe to say that this is a crime problem – not a systemic and criminal justice problem.  I’ve never seen a blue unicorn so it’s safe to say Black-on-Black crime doesn’t exist in the form that the average racist would like to claim as a bullet point against BLM. Not unless, of course, you mention White-on-White crime in the same breath.

Hollis Daniels was brought in because he had drugs and drug paraphernalia in his room.  He evidently received treatment so respectful and compassionate that they did not even frisk him.  Then, he managed to pull out the weapon (was he even handcuffed?), shoot an officer and escape because no one could restrain him. This would never have occurred had he been black. If he managed to escape the frisk, there’s no way he would’ve made it out of that police station alive. That’s the ugly truth.

The good news is that people are slowly waking up to the fact that we can no longer live within the bubbles of our lives and ignore the festering injustices swarming around us.  Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the National Anthem and the country went berserk. But there is a problem because police are brutalizing and killing Black people and police, in turn, are being murdered by Whites. We tell drug addicts that unless they admit there’s a problem, they can’t even begin to fix it. Well, it’s time to apply that same analogy to this problem- which for officers- appears to be getting worse. They can start by treating their encounters with all races equally and stop giving Whites the benefit of the doubt. Maybe, just maybe we’ll all make it home alive.

Justice Has Finally Prevailed

 

Proano

Marco Proano, the Chicago Police officer who fired 16 shots into a car full of unarmed teens, was found guilty of two federal civil rights violations -using unreasonable force and causing bodily injury.  Though it is a small step of victory for supporters of criminal justice reform, it was not a clean victory nor was it without it’s shadows of impropriety.

A vehicle carrying 6 teens was pulled over at 95th and LaSalle by 2 other officers.  Dash cam footage shows Proano arriving minutes later to the scene.  Proano, upon exiting his vehicle, quickly withdrew his weapon (pointing it sideways into the teen’s stolen vehicle) and firing as the driver reverses away from him. The December 2013 shooting left two teens shot and another otherwise injured but no one was killed.

In the aftermath of the shooting, supporters of Proano claimed that it was a ‘split-second’ decision and that his actions were justified although I can’t imagine anyone watching the video believing that he felt there was an immediate danger. This incident didn’t fall through the cracks because the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) launched an investigation into the shooting.  Initially, they barely investigated because, ironically, IPRA is just another cog in the rusty wheel of the criminal justice system.

IPRA was created in 2007 when complaints about how investigations against police officers were being conducted became unavoidable. Comprised of independent investigators, it replaced the Office of Professional Standards (OPS) which, was basically a group of police “investigating” police.  IPRA was tasked to deliver unbiased and unfiltered investigations of complaints lodged against officers. It was not a secret, however, that OPS investigators simply moved over to IPRA.  So much for transparency and accountability.

Ex-FBI Special Agent Larissa Camancho testified in court that in 2015 IPRA was contemplating clearing Proano in the shooting.  After speaking with the investigator on the case, she went to the head of IPRA and told him she believed that the officer should be investigated.  Not surprising because it’s been found that because IPRA has a less than 2% sustainability of complaints against officers, it was not as independent as the public was led to believe and moving forward, in September 2017, they will be replaced by a more rigorously independent agency, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA).

When black people say the criminal justice system is broken and skewed heavily away from the rights of blacks, it is not an understatement.  We’ve seen proof of this when IPRA tried to clear officer Jason Van Dyke who, about a year after Proano’s crime, heinously shot and killed 17-year-old LaQuan McDonald.  It wasn’t until that video was released that Van Dyke was charged with murder.

Marco Proano faces up to 20 years in prison for his crime.  I will wait to see, with bated breath, how many years he’ll receive.  In the meantime we will celebrate because today there is one less volatile officer on the street slaughtering black people with impunity.  This conviction sends at the very least a whisper that the status quo is no longer going to fly.

“Just”- Use it Sparingly

Justify Until we Stop Thinking

I guess that’s why it’s called ‘controversy’-  not everyone agrees.  The controversy I’m referring to is Willow Smith’s nipple shirt.  This isn’t about the “Free the Nipple” movement. I don’t think it’s appropriate attire for a 14-year-old child. Others believe I’m going overboard because it’s just a shirt.   I feel, however, that It removes boundaries and sets them up to be victimized.  I disagree and the word “just” makes it sound innocent enough.  It “just” doesn’t work for kids as well as it does for adults. I’m not saying this leads to bad behavior or that Willow is a bad kid. Willow is a rich, sheltered child who can afford to be expressive.  That doesn’t hold true for the average American kid. We live in a society that complains about out-of-control kids and yet we’re afraid to set boundaries. In fact, we continue to remove them in the name of  “freedom of expression”.  “Just”… There’s just something about that word:

  • Just a joint, until you get hooked on crack or meth- between ages 16-25 I’ve had guys tell me “do just one line of coke for me”. Just one. Just…
  • Just sex, until you get pregnant
  • They’re “just” boys – until the behavior escalates
  • It’s “just” a conversation (or kiss, or hug) with that married person, until they have that affair
  • Just one more drink, until you wreck the car
  • Why not add: Just 4 killed/18 wounded over the weekend in Chicago. As opposed to 82 shot, 14 killed last July
  • He’s just a child and it’s just a dollar he took. Give him a break, mom/dad. It could be worse.

My son wanted “just” a tattoo, a cell phone, a pager, a TV/VCR in his room, and pierced ears when he was 13.  I told him when he turned 18 he could have as many tats as he wanted.  He’s 32 and doesn’t have any tattoos (though he did get his ears pierced :-)!  His priorities shifted as an adult and he didn’t think about tattoos anymore.  I have nothing against those things.  I didn’t feel that a black male teen in Chicago had a reason to have tattoos, pagers, and cell phones in the early 90s.  And, I was right.

Is it possible that “just” opens the door to something “more”?  Is it just a scratch that’ll heal, or one that will fester and require antibiotics?  Is it just a scratch in the paint that’ll buff out, or is it one that will cost five hundred dollars to remove?  Yes, I’m an “over thinker”.  I’m the person who studies heavy traffic ½ mile down the road to determine my next lane change or whether or not I should exit.  What seems “innocent” to some can actually be of potential harm to others.

I didn’t raise a girl but I’m 100% sure if I did she wouldn’t possess that particular shirt.  There are so many ways to raise a girl and teach her to love her body and to empower her sexuality.  At 14, this is not the way to encourage it because let’s face it, it invites the wrong kind of attention. In her mind she’s expressing liberation and freedom (I guess). But that is not what a pedophile will see when they see a child walking down the street wearing that shirt.  Grown women are being followed, harassed, and attacked for deflecting unwanted attention.  It’s not just a shirt–it’s a slippery slope.

So as far as “just” goes, there are reasonable ones and questionable ones.  I feel that Willow’s nipple shirt falls into the latter.  Just… In retrospect, maybe I should’ve tried just one line of coke to find out why everyone else was so fascinated. Just one.

I’m “just” saying, this is just my opinion…

The Ripples of Loss…

 

Every life touches a life.  That statement could not be truer than now for the people Alexander Villafane touched.  He was a Humboldt Park youth football coach and resident of Little Village when he was shot in the head in front of his son just outside his home.  Not only did the 39-year-old husband and father leave behind 2 sons and 2 daughters, he also left behind the children he coached and mentored.

For all the lives Mr. Villafane touched, there were many more to come.  Children who needed a stable male presence in the most critical stage — ages 10-13– will now be left to navigate life without him.  One bullet silenced a man who sacrificed his time and energy to keep kids off the streets and give them something positive and meaningful to look forward to.  Just one bullet.

The ripple effect of a life snatched away cuts deep into the heart of our communities.  The loss of this man reverberates from Humboldt Park, IL where he grew up and coached the Patriots, to Little Village where he lived, and throughout Chicago.  As we wrestle with the senselessness of his death, we have to also discover what it will take to staunch the bloodshed that is to come.

Our communities are only as strong as the people who reside in them.  Cameras can be installed and multitudes of police can be deployed but until we decide to stop covering for murderers, these tragedies will only continue to flow.  Alexander Villafane is gone. We can only pray that the 10 to 13-year-old boys he left behind will not stray from the love that he instilled in them.  We can only pray that whoever knows the person who did this will come forward.  Maybe then the ripples of loss will become the waves of change.

(c) 2015 Kim R Woods – all rights reserved

**video:  Homicide Watch Chicago homicides.suntimes.com