Bill Cosby is a convicted violent sexual predator.
The 81-year-old was sentenced to 3-10 years in a state prison for drugging and raping Andrea Constand at his home in 2004.
I remember being a kid in the late ’90s watching The Cosby Show reruns on Nick at Nite with my family every night. I remember seeing a role model of a black family flash across my TV screen while simultaneously ingrain on my mind as a life goal. The perfect family. Two parent household. Upper middle class. Noble upbringing.
The Huxtables personified black excellence, class and like the black community had never seen before. And Dr. Cliff Huxtable was the patriarch of that excellence. Before Barack Obama, I had never witnessed a prominent Black male figure command the nation’s attention with such decorum and geniality as Huxtable did.
As the first sexual assault allegations came in 2015, I came to realize that the father figure I and so many black children had looked up to was nothing but a figment of our imagination. Admittedly, it was hard to accept that the same man we called “America’s Dad” comforted his daughters after a heartbreak day in and day out across television screens, had also seemed to break someone else’s daughters in unfathomable ways. The cognitive dissonance in many Black Americans minds made it difficult to separate the man from the made-up hero we internalized to be human years ago.
Bill Cosby is a rapist. Dr. Huxtable is not.
Dr. Huxtable was a charismatic and pure character we all viewed as “America’s Dad.” Bill Cosby is a violent sexual assailant we all must not sympathize with. Although it is a hard pill to swallow, Black decency did not begin with Bill Cosby and certainly will not end with him either.
In a 2005 deposition, Cosby admitted to purchasing Quaaludes with the intent of having sex with women. While Cosby has not admitted to raping Constand and others, he has admitted to using drugs to make women have sex with him.
That is sick.
That is not right.
That is rape.
While we know the justice system rarely does right by the black man, this is just not the case here. We must hold our leaders to the same standards we hold those of a different shade.
The Show Must Go On
Can we mourn the loss of the idea of Bill Cosby? Sure. Can we mourn the loss of a childhood hero? Of course. Will we mourn the loss of a rapist? I definitely hope not.
It is time we stop clinging on to a figment of our imagination. Dr. Cliff Huxtable was an outstanding example of what a man should be. Bill Cosby is an even greater example of what a man shouldn’t be. Although bittersweet, there’s a lesson in decency, manhood and humanity with both Huxtable and Cosby.
As a community, we must learn to separate the figure from the felon; the character from the criminal and the revered from the rapist.