Up until now, I’ve not spoken a word about the Bill Cosby issue. As someone who has been a volunteer for an organization providing services to survivors of sexual assault, I do have an opinion. But I have not shared it publicly. And with very few people I know.
A lot of African-Americans have taken issue with this upcoming cover for Ebony Magazine. It’s a family portrait of the Huxtables from The Cosby Show. But obviously, the glass in the frame is cracked. In real life, this happens because the frame may have been accidentally knocked over. Or perhaps, picked up and slammed to the floor. In this case, it’s a physical representation of what many Americans now feel about The Cosby Show.
But many don’t like Ebony Magazine has chosen to depict this animosity. Many have threatened to cancel their subscriptions. Many have stated they will never buy a copy of the magazine ever again.
Over recent years, Ebony has taken a bolder stance on many issues affecting the Black community (police brutality, homosexuality, politics, racism, etc). It was noticed by many, questioned by a few but largely accepted as the magazine adjusts to the current climate on social issues. But this issue seems to have really struck a nerve. I have not seen the issue. Nor have I read the article written by journalist Goldie Taylor. And I’m not totally sure of how to interpret this cover. But for me, it brings to the surface what Black America has been grappling with since the allegations surfaced: the separation between Dr. Bill Cosby and Dr. Cliff Huxtable. Dr. Huxtable is a fictional character. Dr. Bill Cosby is a human being. They are not one in the same. I will always love Dr. Huxtable. I’m struggling to love Dr. Cosby.
Black America feels Dr. Cosby is being targeted in an attempt to “dethrone” him from his reputation of honor because he is a wealthy and famous Black entertainer.
Black America feels it’s unfair The Cosby Show has been yanked from TV while episodes of 7th Heaven are still broadcast. (7th Heaven star Stephen Collins has admitted to inappropriate sexual contact with three female minors. His show was removed from network TV when the news first came out. But then, after viewers expressed they could separate the character from the actor, the show returned to the UP network.)
Should the legacy of The Cosby Show suffer because of the accusations? Good question. As much as the show included scenes of Dr. Cosby as Dr. Huxtable, it also included the scene where Theo pierced his own ear, causing an infection. There was the episode where Vanessa formed a girl group in skimpy costumes. And several scenes where all the children performed karaoke to songs by Ray Charles and James Brown. It doesn’t seem fair we should lose out on viewing those scenes again on TV.
It doesn’t seem fair Dr. Cliff Huxtable, and the entire Huxtable family, should serve time for the alleged crimes of Dr. Cliff Huxtable. While they share many traits, we never saw an episode of Dr. Huxtable wooing, seducing or assaulting any other woman than Claire. And as a matter of fact, we’ve never witnessed Dr. Cosby commit these acts either. However, there are many comedians and other entertainers who will attest to Dr. Cosby’s extra marital relationships with other women. And now, we have the accounts of almost 50 women who state they were assaulted by Dr. Cosby.
Do I think Dr. Cosby is guilty? Are these women telling the truth? Is someone paying these women? Are they all just trying to become famous? Are they just making these accusations in hopes of winning a big windfall of money through legal action?
Ask yourself: how much would someone pay you to falsely accuse someone else of a crime against you? How much would someone pay you to be publicly accused of fabricating said lie against someone else? How much would someone pay you to be called a liar, gold digger, and other horrible names? How much would someone pay you to be spit on, yelled at and have things throw at you? Who has enough money to pay over 50 women to make this allegation? Or who has enough power, clout or influence to even offer a promise of monetary reward to almost 50 women as a result of a legal recourse against Dr. Cosby to tell such a lie?
Here’s a brief fact about sexual assault: It’s about POWER – not SEX. Perpetrators use their power (physical, verbal, psychological, financial, etc.) as weapons. That power can influence, manipulate, intimidate and force a woman to comply against her will.
The Ebony article is not the problem. It’s not just shattering an image; it’s forcing us to think and talk about a subject we are uncomfortable discussing. The fact is we still have a lot to learn about sexual assault. We still have a lot to learn about celebrity – what is real and what is image. And we still have a lot to learn about how heroes can sometimes fail.
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