Regarding the Conflicted: My thing about Bill Cosby
I am always reluctant to write these types of posts because, in the grand scheme of things, my opinion doesn't really matter. This will be a droplet in a sea of news stories, op-eds, blog posts, and barbershop rants about Bill Cosby. Regardless, I feel compelled to add my own take on the matter.
I want to begin by stating the obvious: Bill Cosby is a serial rapist.
We can talk about the statute of limitations, the justice system, victim shaming, White America bringing down the Black man, and all that until Jesus comes back to put us out of our misery. But, let's not pretend that 35 women having the same encounter with the same man can be written off as mere speculation. One victim is a serious enough problem, but thirty-five? There's nothing to debate about.
But, I want to address the problem I see in those who express outrage towards people who continue to support Cosby.
First, let's start with the criticism towards Camille Cosby for continuing to stand by her husband. Bear in mind that Bill Cosby is her husband. We can safely assume that deep inside she knows that the allegations are true, but that doesn't change the fact that they raised kids into adults together. One of their children was murdered and they went through that anguish (publicly) together. If they're anything like my mother and father or me and my wife, they've lied awake in bed and shared inside jokes with each other. They've talked about and built their future together. You cannot expect anyone with that type of relationship to turn against their significant other as quickly as the rest of us can even when they've done something as disgusting as this. You have to understand that, with these allegations, everything Camille Cosby has come to know and love is artifice. The past few decades of being with her husband is a farce, so excuse her if she hangs in denial for a little bit. Let her realize the truth in her own time without everyone on-line shaming her for doing something that every old school mother teaches their daughter to do: Standing by her man.
Next, let's touch on Black men who support Cosby. I can attest to the fact that when I was younger, there were almost zero positive male role models on television with dark skin (that's not to say there are much more now). It may sound silly to you, but Bill Cosby is like an uncle to me. I'm fortunate enough to have grown up with an amazing father, but imagine who Bill Cosby is to the obscene number of Black men in America who don't have a father. This man has a lot to do with who we are and where we are as a people.
Imagine what it did to me to realize that this man, a staple in my life, is a serial rapist. Imagine the revelation that someone that you've looked up to your entire life is actually the worst type of human being there is. As a Black man, I always saw Bill Cosby as the best of us, but as it turns out he's among the worst.
What's even more sad is to know that the loss of Bill Cosby as a role model in the Black Community pales in comparison to the loss that Bill Cosby's victims feel. These 35+ women feel a loss and burden so great that I am clearly over stepping my bounds in even trying to understand it. No person should have to go through that sort of pain. For them hearing anyone stand by Cosby's side drives the dagger deeper and the bravery it takes to tell their stories in spite of that takes strength and courage that I will never know in life.
I'm not saying that the people who support Cosby shouldn't have a lot of sense injected into their brains (with the exception of Camille Cosby, for the reasons I mentioned above). I just thought it would help to understand a couple of reasons why they may be reluctant to step into the light. In either case, it's not right to attack Cosby supporters as if they raped 35+ women. Support for Cosby hurts those women and other rape victims, that much we can agree on, but they know not what they do (at the moment).
It's all about understanding, which I think is very different from justification. The Cosby supporters will come around. Just give them time and space to figure this out and let things set in. There's no way you can see 35+ women in that much pain and showing that much courage and not believe them.
In the meantime, I offer this: Whenever you write a mean status update about or to a Cosby supporter, before clicking "send" or "update", change it to a supportive comment for these 35+ women. They need your support more than the deluded need your negativity.
Okay, that's it.