“I’m Losing My Dad” Jill Scott Explains Exactly Why She Defended Bill Cosby
Many of us released groans and moans when Jill Scott stepped forward to tweet her support for Bill Cosby during the middle of firestorm where women were coming forward, all over the place, accusing Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them, over several decades.
Jill Scott, in many of our eyes is a woman’s woman. She’s sung and written so eloquently about our experiences that it seemed like when an issue, very particular to women, came up she would empathize with their issues. But that’s not what happened.
And after the deposition surfaced, where Cosby explained that he obtained Quaaludes to have sex (read: rape) women, Scott said that she could no longer defend him.
Still, yesterday during her interview with “The Breakfast Club,” Jill explained why she was initially so adamant about supporting him.
Charlemagne: You said being an artist and a Black man that is beloved is one of the most dangerous positions that you can be in, can you elaborate on that?
Jill: I remember the day when, I was in New Jersey, and I saw every kid with an Allen Iverson jersey. Every kid, everywhere. And I thought to myself, he’s in trouble. When you are looked past your skin and at your talent, when you looked past your skin and at what your bring to something that people love, that means you’re beloved, beyond the color of your skin, your race and all that.
And it was maybe a month later, he was on the cover of The Daily News, in Philadelphia, with his braids out and he was two shades darker on the cover. It was like they had vilified him that quick. Bringing a lot of light and attention to the prospect of a human being simply being a human being, coming from a Black man, is dangerous in my opinion.
Look at what happened to Michael Jackson, look at what happened to Kevin Clash, I’m talking about Elmo, how he was so beloved by everyone. I’m not trying to dismiss the fact that people have done some terrible, foul things, with the understanding that men all have proclivities. Rich ones, smart ones, dumb ones, backwoods ones, all men have proclivities. That just means something that’s natural to you that’s probably really bad.
But what I see is that our heroes–and please understand–I’m from North Philly, Bill Cosby is from North Philly. That man was like a father to me. He showed me everything about life that I did not see in North Philadelphia, not just because I watched the television shows, but I did watch them. I watched “The Cosby Show,” “Fat Albert,” “A Different World” made me want to go to college. ‘College, ain’t nobody around my way going to no college.’ I appreciate and respect that legacy, still that’s a man. And I’ve always been about that with fame and famous people.
But I felt the need to remember the Michael Jacksons, the Kevin Clashes and how people were really trying to destroy that legacy.
What’s the dude’s name? Phil Spector. He killed a woman, tried and convicted but he’s still in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If I’m not mistaken, Elvis liked ’em young. I’m not saying that this is right. I’m saying that all men have proclivities and I really feel that whatever is done to some, do to all. Don’t decimate the legacy of the good.
You’re trying to tell me that regardless of how much good I do in the world, if I do something bad, just something terrible, everything else gets pushed away.
The history and list of men with dirty, terrible things–and guess what, the more money you get, the more easily and more apt you are to the worst things because they’ve always been in you. If nobody’s helped you or guided you or stopped you.
Then Angela Yee asked what does she think should happen to Bill Cosby.
Charlemagne interrupts to say that the best thing for him to do would be to pass away.
So, Jill never got a chance to answer that question.
But she did continue
Jill: All I’m saying is that, looking at the big picture was the reason that I could not make any real decisions other than love. If it’s your father, if it’s your dad and 50-60, let’s say 100 people say something terrible about your father, the one that’s raised you, the one that’s been there, the one that took care of your skinned knees, and I’m not saying this because I saw the man on television. Bill Cosby has been good to me. He had his daughter drive to New York, to get something for my throat and I tore it up. I drank it everyday. It’s hard…
Charlemagne: You came out and said you had to stop defending him though.
It doesn’t look good. My mind is present. My heart did not want to believe anything negative about someone that I love and admire and respect so much but my mind is still present and I was like ‘Damnnit, there’s no way around this. It looks bad, it smells bad, it tastes bad.’
All I know is that I’m a human being and my love ain’t watery. And just cuz it got hot, it didn’t just jump and eviscerate and evaporate. People may not understand. You don’t understand I’m a person.
And this man…If I could explain all the people who died in North Philly, especially when I was growing up. If I could explain the differences between myself and, I felt like, so many other people. I felt very alone. And I saw someone, just making strides, knocking down doors… It was inspiring to me.
And I would hope that if the shoe was ever on the other foot, that something was being said about me that was terrible, horrible, vile and disgusting, I would hope that somebody who’s ever claimed to appreciate, love and respect me would be like ‘Wait, wait. I’m not jumping to anything. I’m going to hold tight.’
Other women on her thoughts on Bill Cosby
What I got from elder sister about the Bill Cosby situation, she said, ‘I don’t agree with you but you have the right to feel the way you do.’ Now, what the rest of the world didn’t know is at the same time, my father has dementia. So I’m losing my dad and I’m losing my dad…at the same time.
I’m not looking for anybody to feel sorry for me, I’m just saying that I am a person and there’s stuff that happens in the course of life that other people don’t understand.
As someone who had heard of Cosby’s sexual assault allegations in the past, there was no doubt in my mind that when these women started stepping forward again this year, there was a great deal of truth behind many, if not all of their stories. Still, it wasn’t a fact I took pride in. I wasn’t happy to be right about this one. I was disappointed in not only Bill Cosby but in the people who were so ready and willing to demonize the women who stepped forward to tell their story.
It was amazing to me that people who had never met or interacted Bill Cosby , and not Heathcliff Huxtable, were so willing to believe his complete lack of response over more than 40 women coming forward to say that he had violated them. It seemed that the only thing that made Bill more credible and reliable than these women were his celebrity status, the good work he had done for the community; when in actuality, one has little to do with the other.
And though I’ve been staunch and adamant about this guilt, I listened to Jill’s rationale and I understood it. This was someone who knew him personally. When she asked what Angela Yee would have done if it were her father being accused. And I agree with Jill, you can only love someone for what they’ve been to you. And for her, his impact and influence was huge. She didn’t stop loving him just because he had a history of being horrible and predatory, at the same time he was inspiring, giving back and uplifting. If many of us look over our own lives, we have someone like that in our lives as well.
But Yee’s question about punishment remains. And in their discussion, it’s unfortunate that more time was spent speaking about Bill Cosby’s legacy than there was time dedicated to the physical, emotional and psychological damage he perpetuated on these women, for decades. That’s a part of his legacy too. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Obviously he is a conflicted and hypocritical man. But a part of life is being held responsible for our actions. And if you love someone truly, you’ll want them to be held responsible as well. Since he might never serve time in jail, is it so unreasonable to remove a statue in his honor and cease to air the reruns from his decades-old television show? That’s the absolute least that could be done.
With that being said, Jill makes an impeccable point about what you do for one, do for all. There are far too many White men who haven’t had to pay as severely, or at all, for their shortcomings in the way that Black men often do.
You should definitely check out the entirety of Jill Scott’s interview. Y’all know she speaks the truth.