Why Are We Not More Upset Over How Awful Bill Treated Camille?
There’s something that has always bothered me about Bill Cosby defenders.
Okay, there are a lot of things that have always bothered me about Bill Cosby defenders. But this one particular question has been particularly perplexing.
Basically, why aren’t folks more upset at Cosby for disrespecting Camille?
Yes I know: why is this important?
Well, it matters when you consider that it is a commonly held belief among Cosby defenders that all of this is happening to the legendary comedian because he is both a powerful and influential champion of family values and personal accountability in the Black community. That includes his long and dedicated history of philanthropy as well as the countless respectable representations of Black people that Cosby has brought to both film and television.
Folks like to say things like, “’they’ can’t stand to see us do anything positive and good for the Black community” and “all ‘they’ do is promote negative images, which seeks to destroy the Black family. And in all realness, I totally feel that and in most cases, I believe it is at least partially true.
Still you can’t blame “them” too much when folks themselves make it so easy.
As no matter how we may individually feel about his guilt or innocence in regards to the countless sexual assault accusations levied against him, you can not deny Cosby’s own responsibility in the destruction of his legacy. You can’t blame “them” for the (admitted) extra-martial affairs, lying and all around pain and embarrassment he caused to his wife. And more importantly, you can’t blame “them” for his failure to live up to the values, which he not only created on-screen but vigorously championed for us to model off-screen.
What I mean is that Camille was not only the inspiration behind Cosby’s TV wife on “The Cosby Show,” but both the real Camille and her inspiration are held up by Cosby (and many of his defenders) as the epitome of everything that is promoted as respectable Black womanhood.
The daughter of a man who earned a masters degree from Fisk and was an colonel in the Army and her mother who graduated from Howard University, Camille would enjoy the fruits of what were a solid middle class Black family in Washington D.C. Although Camille would drop out of college at the University of Maryland to marry Bill, a high-school drop-out himself, she would later return back to school to earn her Ph.d in education.
But as we know, education alone does not make the women great. At least that’s what the champions of family values tells us.
Outside of being highly educated, Camille is known for both her grace and humility. For instance, in a 1994 New York Times profile of the wife and mother entitled AT HOME WITH: Camille O. Cosby; A Private Woman, A Public Cause, writer Lena Williams once called “her a study in serene elegance.”
And in the same profile, Williams wrote about Camille’s overall decorum:
“Perhaps it is the way she greets friends and acquaintances with hugs and kisses to both cheeks. Or how she welcomes strangers by cupping her hands over theirs. Much like the mother who has taught her children to mind their manners, Mrs. Cosby is careful to refer to everyone — from a reporter to her driver — with the respectful titles of Mr. or Ms.
The Cosbys have a partnership in which she has played a major role in overseeing aspects of her husband’s career, in addition to her own creative ventures. She and her husband have granted millions of dollars in scholarships and grants to universities and organizations like the National Council of Negro Women.
Her own projects have brought this guarded woman out in the open. And she says she’d be willing to talk for a lifetime about “my people” — black Americans — if doing so would change the way the world sees them, but her home and her family remain mostly off-limits.”
She is well-educated, a helpmate, good mannered, reserved and a fierce protector of the family. And I bet you she even fixes Bill’s plates…
What I’m trying to point out here is that Camille was the epitome of everything Cosby defenders tell us is lacking from both contemporary Black womanhood and the modern Black family.
And yet despite being the ideal image of Black womanhood, Bill still did her dirty.
And not only did he do her dirty, but it is she who likely suffers the most from actions. That includes the public humiliation, the likely loss of status in her community of peers and friends, and the very real possibility of having to relive some traumatic moments in her life in a deposition aimed at finding out the truth about her husband’s misdeeds.
Granted, the Cosby’s personal failures are a lot less important than everything else that he is being accused of. But since family values are such a major aspiration for us – and since Black women in particular have being ridiculed, harassed, demeaned, and basically violated for not being good enough girls, women, mothers and other halves in the Black family – I just have to know from his defenders, why aren’t you holding him up to his role as a respectable and responsible man and husband?
And why are you all not peeved at him for his failure to treasure, respect and take care of one of the good ones?