Whether it be because of history, race, or truth, a suspicion of successful black men forcibly removed from their perches exists. Despite overwhelming evidence, there are still those who will challenge you to a fight if you call OJ Simpson a murderer. A part of that is because we see innocent black men released regularly from prison after years of incarceration. The confession by the white woman who accused and facilitated the lynching of black teen Emmitt Till for supposedly touching her in 1955 is still a fresh memory for black men my age and a legendary injustice for those younger.
Bill Cosby, in my opinion, is guilty of rape and sexual assault, but the pain of his guilt has affected my community in ways hard to explain. I have watched the first three episodes of the four-part exposé on Mr. Cosby’s alleged crimes with great trepidation and morbid curiosity. The aptly entitled We Need to Talk about Cosby was conceived by Comedian/Writer/Director Kamau Bell. His use of interviews with various professionals and experts in sexual assault and therapy paled in comparison to the stories of the victims. If you have any doubts about Mr. Cosby’s guilt, I dare you to watch.
Face after face, story after story and refusals to cry by the many women who accused Bill Cosby were so convincingly powerful that I cried—for them. His alleged victims’ fear, defiance, humiliation, and embarrassment are palpable. When sports journalist Jemele Hill (who was not a victim, by the way) admits she had to take a “black girl sigh,” it was her way of accepting, Mr. Cosby took himself off the perch he worked so long to construct.
I realized halfway through watching the strained faces and disappointing looks of resignation by the victims and those asked for their opinions that I had never publicly written or spoken on the issue until now. The more I watched, the more my thoughts reflected those of the women who suffered. Some women blamed themselves for lapses in judgment (unaware of the power of the drugs they were given). Over and over, others would say, but he is Bill Cosby. I wanted Mr. Cosby not to be guilty. The man who pushed his TV family to achieve love and treated his wife like a black queen could not be guilty. Quickly, as the names, faces, and stories added up, I could not deny the obvious. Like many others, having to set aside the hours and, in my case, years of laughter and goodwill was tough. Mr. Bell tried hard not to be heavy-handed or judgmental, but the subject left him no choice. No matter how often Bell lauded Cosby’s many contributions to HBCU(s) or integrating parts of show business, the victims’ stressed stares, deep breaths, and quivering lips holding back tears overshadowed his achievements.
As for me, I have not been able to watch the Cosby show since he was first found guilty of sexual assault (later overturned on appeal). Yes, I miss watching the show, but I do not miss Dr. Cosby’s monstrous Hyde.
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