Tag Archive | Sexual assault

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.

Advertisements

Bill Cosby: Villain or Victim? A Different Point of View

Bill Cosby

 

There’s a resurgence of rape allegations against Dr. Bill Cosby—complete with a new ever-growing cast of victims. As the Black community builds a cocoon of support around him, there’s a disturbing backlash against his accusers—who happen to be white women. Rape (and other forms of sexual assault) is a seriously under-reported crime in the United States. Because of that, our response to these accusations must proceed with great caution and attempts to make this a racial issue should be restrained—at least for now.

Bill Cosby is not new to allegations of sexual assault. Andrea Constand –the only woman to file formal charges—came forward in 2005 alleging a 2004 sexual assault. In support of Ms. Constand, Barbara Bowman and 13 anonymous others came forward in 2005 with reports that they too, were assaulted by the actor/comedian/author/producer/activist. Although the DA did not have enough evidence to charge him in a criminal case, Bill Cosby settled out of court with her in 2006.

It’s extremely distressing (especially in the Black community) to think that our beloved “America’s Dad” could be capable of such repeated heinous acts. As a man who has accomplished a lifetime of accolades and who has been a beacon for Blacks both on screen and off, it’s hard for us to wrap our heads around these accusations. But as a responsible societal member, we must not be quick to vilify the women who’ve come forward.

I watched Don Lemon interview one of Cosby’s accuser’s, Joan Tarshis, on CNN (via YouTube) the other day. When asked why she did not come forward after the alleged assaults, she said: “Who’s going to believe me? Bill Cosby, the All American Dad, the All American Husband, Mr. Jell-O that everybody loves…who would believe me?” One YouTube commentator correctly noted that he didn’t do the Jell-O ads until 1974 and the Cosby show even later than that—in 1984. But this isn’t a chronological memory. This is an all-encompassing image of Bill Cosby that perhaps she, over the course of many years, struggled with while dealing with what allegedly happened to her. Put into perspective, there was a six-year passage of time between the supposed assault and his first Jell-O commercial. During this period, “Hey, Hey, Hey…It’s Fat Albert” ran as a primetime special (in 1969, the year of the alleged assault) and, later in 1972, “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” was becoming one of the best cartoons of the 70s. Cosby’s star was continually on the rise. One can’t help but wonder how many times over that 6-year period she wanted to say something to her own mother– who was crazy about this man. Sexual assault is not a cut and dry crime. Nor is the way victims respond to it.

According to the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN), 60% of all rapes are NOT reported. Even more distressing 97% of abusers never see the inside of a prison. Deep shame and embarrassment are among reasons victims do not come forward. Some are so traumatized they bury the assault for years until something triggers flashbacks. Others, as in the case of Dr. Cosby’s accusers, are victims of people in power (whether perceived or real). It is not uncommon for people to come forward 10, 20, or 30 years after an assault.

It’s an insult and a disservice to victims everywhere when we insult and bully them in the media or any forum. There may very well be recent victims who are now terrified to come forward. Fifteen plus women alleging sexual assault can no longer be ignored. This is an unfortunate “lose-lose” situation for all involved and has already become a hot Black/White issue on social media.

He’s not the only TV dad to disappoint us. Actor Stephen Collins of 7th Heaven confessed to being a child molester to his wife—who recorded and released the confession to the media. Collins, a white, actor is also being destroyed in the media (rightly so since he verbally confessed!). Now some will say that there’s a clear difference between the two however, sexual abuse is still a forceful criminal act—both disgusting and disturbing. Collins admitted his crime verbally whereas Cosby could very well have admitted it by settling out of court with Ms. Constand.

Sexual predators have a type. For Collins it’s children. Perhaps for Cosby, it’s young and impressionable white women. Money is power and money talks and let’s face it, Bill Cosby has plenty of both. Remember the accusations lobbied against priests in the Catholic churches? Grown men in their 30s and 40s were among those who came forward to speak out about their sexual abusers. Their allegations were also well beyond the legal statutes of limitations. Are their claims less valid because they didn’t come forward immediately?

There are facts that cannot be disputed at this point. He paid Shawn Upshaw $100,000 to keep her quiet about an affair they had in the 70s. He settled a sexual abuse lawsuit with Andrea Constand. It begs the question “How many silences has he bought to protect his image?” Everyone has secrets and this man is no exception.

Is this a modern-day ‘lynching’ of Bill Cosby? I hope not. Has my opinion of him changed? I can’t look at him and not wonder. Before we give in to our urgent desire to defend Bill Cosby, my position is that we wait and see how the rest of this story unfolds before we yell racism. Why? Because there are thousands of unreported and late reported rapes every year and when these men, women, and children step forward, someone has to believe them.

©2014Kim R. Woods all rights reserved