All Articles Tagged "Bill Cosby"

Bill Cosby Addresses Rape Allegations …And Has Us All Scratching Our Heads

May 15th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Bill Cosby Addresses Rape Allegations

Source: ABC

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby, in the midst of allegations from more than 30 women who say he drugged or raped them, partnered to help improve the underfunded school system in Alabama. While he was there for philanthropic reasons, his interview with “Good Morning America,” took a turn toward the scandalous when reporter Linsey Davis asked Cosby about the rape allegations.

Davis asked, “Are you prepared for the backlash if a young person comes up to you and says, ‘My mom says you’ve done some bad things.’ How will you answer them if they are pressing you, ‘Are you guilty, did you do it, are the allegations true?'”

Cosby responded:

“I’m not sure that they will come like that. I think that many of them say well, ‘You’re a hypocrite. You say one thing, you say the other.’ My point is, ok, listen to me carefully: I’m telling you where the road is out. Now, you want to go here or you want to be concerned about who’s giving you the message?” 

Davis: Are you concerned that the allegations will overshadow your message?

“I have been in this business 52 years and I’ve never seen anything like this. And reality is, the situation. And I, I can’t speak.”

Then Davis told Mr. Cosby that many, even his fans, are concerned about his legacy and she wanted to know if he, himself is concerned. He shook his head before saying:

“I really know about what I’m going to do tomorrow. I have a ton of ideas to put on television about people and their love for each other.”

Yes, you read those quotes correctly. And yes, they are a little sparse on actual answers to the questions posed. But if you want to see Cosby answer these questions for himself, you can watch the video below.

What do you think about Bill Cosby finally addressing the allegations? Do you think Alabama schools made a good decision in partnering with him?


ABC News Videos | ABC Entertainment News

Do Honorary Degrees Devalue The PhD?

May 13th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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Kanye West honorary degree, via Kim Kardashian West Instagram

Instagram

Well folks, I think I have seen everything. Kanye West just received an honorary doctorate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Thankful for the recognition, “The College Dropout” Grammy winner also mentioned how important the art of “I’m sorry” can be. “‘I’m sorry’ is something you can use a lot,” mentioned West. “It gives you the opportunity to give your opinion, apologize for it and give your opinion again.”

I personally never understood why colleges are willing to hand out honorary degrees, but do understand the marketing ploy. Having a socially relevant and influential figure associated with your institution can certainly help when it comes to funding and attracting applicants. Yet it seems like these days they’ll hand almost anyone an honorary doctorate.

Do you think standards have gone out the window when it comes to the recipient? Or is anyone who makes a splash in pop culture fair game?

“Recipients of honorary doctorate degrees do not earn the degree through academic achievements, rather with generous and altruistic actions or lifetime accomplishments that benefit a community, nation or humanity in general,” one site notes.

This might explain why figures like Bill Gates, Oprah and the late Maya Angelou have complimentary degrees. They made significant contributions to society. Now we want to add Kanye West into the mix? Just to put things in perspective a little, the late great Steve Jobs (y’all remember him) who once gave an amazing commencement speech at Stanford University and didn’t even receive a honorary doctorate. He thought it was weird!

Like West, Jobs was a college dropout whose success is a testament to hard work and dedication. Come to think of it, many celebrity recipients of an honorary doctorate either dropped out of college or didn’t attend at all. Both Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs and True Blood star Alexander Skarsgård are two examples of people who received an honorary degree from the very college they left. Mike Tyson dropped out of high school and received a Doctorate of Human Letters from Central State University.

I guess better late than never?

At the end of the day, honorary degrees are subjective. If a college or university feels someone is an appropriate recipient, they will have no problem giving out a doctorate to a celebrity. We might agree with some and side eye others, but ultimately just have to nod and keep it moving.

And what about celebrities with shamed legacies like Bill Cosby? Given he has well over 15 honorary degrees, should they be rescinded?

I personally don’t have a PhD. It’s too much school for me, but who knows what can happen down the road. I do however know plenty of friends and relatives who went to school and put in the hard work to obtain one. Some don’t care if a celebrity gets an honorary doctorate while others think it sets the wrong tone for those pursuing higher education. Why pay so much money to the point of debt when you can just have one handed to you?

Read Surprising Celebrities Who Received Honorary Doctorate Degrees

Queen Latifah Talks Sexuality, Bessie Smith And Bill Cosby With Uptown Magazine

April 27th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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queen latifah

Source: Uptown

Every time I think about Queen Latifah, I think, you can’t hold a good woman down. Throughout her entire career, she has been the master of diversification. From rapper, to actress, to jazz singer, to talk-show host.

After taking off her talk-show host hat, Queen Latifah is donning the actress hat once again in the upcoming HBO film, Bessie. In the film, there’s a moment when Bessie Smith, played by Queen Latifah, sits naked.

Doing so in front of a movie crew, was a new experience for the 45-year-old renaissance woman.

In a recent interview with Uptown Magazine, Latifah said, “I’ve never done that before.” Still, she didn’t let the newness of the moment prevent her from getting the job done.

I don’t find [this nude scene] any more uncomfortable than kissing a girl in ‘Set It Off’ and stick to the script. You have to take your mind off of yourself and honor that character. Respect Cleo, respect Bessie.” 

Sexuality plays quite a significant role in Bessie’s life story, and so Uptown asked Latifah how she felt audiences would perceive Bessie’s bisexuality being played out so vividly on screen.

“I’m not really sure how people will feel about [Bessie’s bisexuality]. It’s not like it’s a secret with her story. She was just free.”

But back in the day, the idea of a free sexuality wasn’t as taboo as it is today. Latifah said, “People’s ideas in general are antiquated when it comes to who you love. We haven’t moved as quickly as we probably should. And the reality is that there’s always been gay people in the black community, so it’s not foreign to us. And not just as a black community but just a society as a whole…Who you choose to marry is really up to you and it’s not something you should be judged on. I don’t find being gay or lesbian to be a character flaw. Couples should be protected under the laws of this country period. It actually angers me. It’s not unusual to let’s be adults and let’s move forward.”

Why Black Women Don’t Report Their Sexual Assaults

March 25th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Why Black Women Don't Report Their Sexual Assaults

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I’ve been gravely disappointed during this ongoing Cosby scandal. Partially because the Bill Cosby I’d watched and admired was now marred by this scandal but mostly because of the people in my circles who tried to demonize the women who spoke out against him. After all, I never knew Bill Cosby. I do, however, know the family members, friends, distant associates and others who asked questions like “why are these women just now coming forward?”

Sad.

This type of thought pattern just showed that there is a gross ignorance among people about sexual assault and what happens, emotionally and psychologically, to the women who have endured it.

And while I’ve tried to fight the good fight on my Facebook page and in conversations where it happened to come up, explaining that there is no set way to process trauma; now there is empirical, anecdotal evidence to support what I had been saying all along, especially as it pertains to Black women.

A New York based human right’s organization, called Black Women’s Blueprint, is conducting an ongoing study which found that nearly 60 percent of Black women have been involved in a coercive sexual assault by the time they are 18-years-old.

And in relaying her own story, one of these women explained in an article with Raw Story why it’s so hard for Black women to report their sexual assaults to the authorities.

If we report our assaults to police, we risk being retraumatized not only by the inhumane process of reliving a violent experience through sharing its gory details – but also by the violence of the criminal justice system itself , which treats rape victims like suspects . Worse yet, the police themselves commit assault with impunity ; often, they target black women in particular , knowing our existence at the intersections of racism and misogyny make crimes against us far less likely to be investigated .

To be a “ good rape victim ” is to immediately report your assault to the police (even knowing you will likely never see “justice” ), but to be a good black person is to avoid the police entirely because your life quite literally depends on it . The tightrope walk is impossible.

These words sound alarmingly like the ones Beverly Johnson wrote when she detailed her sexual assault with Cosby. You might recall that she hesitated coming forward because, with all the racial tension in the country these days, she didn’t want to be the Black woman attempting to drag a Black man down.  

She knew before the essay was even published that she would be in for a world of scrutiny and judgement.

And she was right. My heart broke as I watched people, some of them MN readers (women), call Johnson everything but a child of God for daring to step forward with this story.

If Johnson, with her illustrious career and the respect she’s earned in the industry, was torn down in this way, imagine what happens to the “unknown” women who tell their doubting family members and law enforcement officers about their own sexual assaults? The outcome is not likely to provide any closure. In fact, the experience of being doubted, questioned or further victimized might just result in even more trauma.

To paraphrase one of my Facebook and real life friends: ladies and gentlemen, the women in your life, who’ve been quietly living with the secrets and burdens of their own sexual assaults, are watching you and your reaction to this whole Bill Cosby situation, wondering if they should continue to remain silent and whether or not you’ll doubt them too.

#WontHeDoIt! ‘A Different World’ Is Coming To Netflix

February 25th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Every few weeks, Netflix revamps its content and sends or takes away our favorite gems. The New York Observer has announced the news we’ve been waiting for: A Different World is coming to Netflix! The hit ‘90s show that inspired us to go to college never gets tired. And we’re excited to be locked up in the house to catch up on the lives of Denise, Whitley and Dwayne. Netflix will also be adding the seventh season of Mad Men and Halle Berry’s film Frankie & Alice

It is a surprise, though, that Netflix is supporting the work of Bill Cosby after canceling his November 2014 comedy special  due to the mounting sexual assault allegations against him. Cosby created A Different World as a spin-off for The Cosby Show to showcase Huxtable daughter Denise’s college experience.

The complete season of A Different World will debut on March 15.

Bill Cosby Faces Protests & Ticket Refunds As He Heads Into Denver This Weekend

January 14th, 2015 - By Ann Brown
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Image Source: WENN

Image Source: WENN

As the Bill Cosby scandal rages on, Ticketmaster has decided to offer refunds for the Bill Cosby shows scheduled at the Buell Theater in Denver this coming Saturday.

While some locations have outright canceled Cosby’s shows, the Mile High City has let the show go on. But Denver’s City Councilwoman Susan Shepherd as well as other members of the council have taken a very public stand against the comedian’s show.

She actually abstained from voting on the concert promoter’s incentives contract during a recent city council meeting which, if passed, would extend the current incentives through 2015. It would directly benefit AEG Live , the promotion company hosting Cosby.

She and others will be protesting. “More than 3,000 tickets have been sold for the two shows scheduled for Saturday while an organization called Turn Back Cosby has planned a protest outside of the Buell Theatre at the same time,” reports The Daily Beast.  Even attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing some of Cosby’s alleged victims, is said to be attending the protest.

“There are people who are hurting. And this doesn’t feel good..this feels uncomfortable,” Shepherd said. “Victims of abuse often don’t feel free to speak up. I feel like it was very important for those people in our community to hear from a member in council, a woman in leadership–willing to be sympathetic to how they feel and to stand for them in this situation.”

AEG is going ahead with the show because Cosby has not faced legal repercussions. Cosby is facing sexual-assault allegations from more than 15 women but he has yet to be charged, reports KUSA-TV, an NBC affiliate.

Beverly Johnson’s Ex-Boyfriend Sues CNN For $19 Million Due To Defamation

January 13th, 2015 - By Madame Noire
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Former supermodel Beverly Johnson talks life after Cosby allegations: "It's been a whirlwind month." In December, she accused Cosby of drugging her.

WENN

From TMZ

An ex-boyfriend of Bill Cosby accuser Beverly Johnson is suing CNN for allegedly defaming him by talking crap about him to TMZ.

Johnson was contacted by CNN for a special that focused on her accusations. TMZ broke the story … Cosby’s lawyer urged the network to interview Mark Burk because he lived with Johnson for 4 years, and would say she only had praise for the comedian and never mentioned drugging allegations.

We contacted CNN before the show aired, and ended up with a letter the network sent to Cosby’s lawyer saying Burk was a criminal with an ax to grind and lived with Johnson long after she was allegedly drugged. As a result they said he was not included in the special.

Read more about this case against CNN at TMZ.com

Bill Cosby, His Accusers And The Way We Treat Women Who Say They Are Victims Of Sexual Assault

January 13th, 2015 - By Alexandra Olivier
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Shutterstock

Shutterstock

To date, 29 women have come out and accused Bill Cosby of varying levels of sexual assault. Woven throughout their stories are the same claims of drug use and an abuse of both Cosby’s power and celebrity status. The allegations date as far back as 1965 and as recent as 2008. And while there are no criminal investigations going on for any of these claims, a few of his accusers are launching civil lawsuits.

Despite the overwhelming uproar and the many allegations, the embattled comedian has kept very quiet. As his lawyer put it, “he will not justify these allegations with a response.” So instead, the few friends he does have left in the business have been stepping up to take the heat for him. Most of them are women.

Phylicia Rashad, Debbie Allen, Keshia Knight-Pulliam, Whoopi Goldberg, Jill Scott, Stacey Dash and Vivica Fox have all come to the defense of their friend, mentor and/or former co-star. Most of these women have dismissed or questioned the claims of these accusers, and a few have even called the allegations baseless, much like Cosby’s lawyer has every time a new accusation surfaces.

But while they feel that they’re speaking up for good reason, their dismissal of what these women have allegedly gone through is hurtful.

When the media swarm began and women from all walks of life started to come forward, I didn’t want to believe them either. This is someone I grew up watching faithfully. He was behind the strong on-screen African-American family I would hope to one day have when I reached adulthood. This is a man known for his many philanthropic efforts. This is also a man who motivated me during his commencement speech at my alma mater, Temple University.

But something is definitely going on that can’t be ignored.

Whoopi Goldberg’s open skepticism of Barbara Bowman’s accusations on “The View” came off as distasteful: “Don’t you do a kit when you say someone has raped you? Isn’t that the next step once you make an allegation? Don’t the cops take you into a hospital for a kit?” Her questions may seem appropriate, but her choice to pose them on her platform is what keeps other victims of sexual assault from coming forward.

Phylicia Rashad’s own controversial comments and choice to make this situation less about the women and more about a legacy being tarnished alludes to the idea that their hurt and shame isn’t worth listening to.

Like Goldberg and Rashad, I wanted to find “holes” in these stories. I questioned and asked, why now? But that is simply victim shaming, and finding an excuse for Cosby, who chooses to use this situation as material for his stand-up.

And while I look up to most of these women and can appreciate that they have positive relationships with Cosby, they were not there and certainly shouldn’t shut down these women and their stories. Without the facts, you can’t dismiss them or Cosby, so people should stop trying.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 68 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Discounting these women for when they decided to come forward sends a message to other victims that the road in seeking justice may be too hard and not worth the fight, especially if and when your attacker is rich and famous. Bowman claimed that she was laughed out of an attorney’s office once for coming up with such “stories” about what she had claimed to have been through.

Rape and sexual assault are very hard to talk about. Whether the alleged attacker is John Doe who bags groceries, or a powerful actor with a lengthy list of accomplishments, it is not the VICTIM who should be heavily scrutinized.

We don’t know what happened 20, 30 or 40 years ago in those dressing rooms or within the walls of the home he shares with his wife, Camille. But in such a high-profile case, we should not put these women on trial just because they have been unable to put Cosby on trial within the courts.

 

They Just Keep Coming: More Bill Cosby Secrets We Never Knew

January 12th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: WENN

Image Source: WENN

As the number of rape allegations climb to 29, the Bill Cosby secrets just keep coming.

Phylicia Rashad And What It Means To Really Be Classy

January 9th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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Phylicia Rashad And What It Means To Really Be Classy

Source: ABC

How does one define class?

I’ve been thinking about that a bunch as of late, considering how cavalierly the word is often thrown around. Folks, particularly womenfolk, are obsessed with it. What I mean is, I see folks use the word to signify a number of mostly aesthetically (and shallow) attributes like how poised one is in both posture and mannerism; the style and mostly conservative tone of dress; and how one articulates their words and punctuates with the finest of verb and noun agreements. Basically, being classy is about the image of refinement and civility we like to project out to the world.

And it sort of makes sense: women, who smile pleasantly, speak softly and remember to end their sentences with “please” and “thank you,” earn lots of people capital in a society, which still has a difficult time not referring to assertive women, who forgo social conventions, as “bitches.”

But for all of the “rewards,” which being a class act can afford us outwardly, what does class really say about character? You know, how poised and well-mannered someone is on the inside? More importantly, when faced with a situation that requires a bit of righteous indignation, what happens when one’s internal classiness conflicts with the appearance of dignity, respect and sophistication we like to project out to the world?

It’s a question that I wish Phylicia Rashad would have considered long and hard before even attempting to defend her former on-screen husband from allegations of sexual assault and doping women. If I had not made myself clear: I’m talking about Bill Cosby. Not that she didn’t have a right to offer a character witness and even her support to Cosby, who she regards as a long time friend. But it’s a whole ‘nother thing to rinse over the allegations against him – all 26 of them.

And yet that’s what Rashad did. First, during an interview with Showbiz 411 when she said, “Forget these women…What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated.”

And then again the following day, in another interview meant to clarify her previous thoughts about how we should feel about the women. With her head held high and while enunciating every syllable and affix, Rashad proudly tells the news program:

“That was a misquote. That is not what I said. What I said is this is not about the women. This about something else. This is about the obliteration of legacy….I am a woman. I would never say such a thing.”

In the interview, Rashad is both poised and dignified in her defense of not only Cosby, but now, of herself. Her pedigree, being the daughter of a Pulitzer Prize-nominated artist and an orthodontist, combined with all the years spent performing in the theater and her signature role as Clair Huxtable, shines through in a way that is almost enchanting. And for a split second, you can’t help but feel like you are getting the imaginary scolding we all secretly wanted from our favorite Black high achieving lawyer-wife and mother of five children and Olivia (Pam too if we want to get technical).

For the record, Showbiz 411 writer Roger Friedman, also clarified Rashad’s “real” intention, writing:

“There was NEVER the meaning in ‘Forget those women’ that she was saying to actually forget or dismiss then. [sic] She meant, ‘those women aside’– as in, she’s not talking about that, she’s talking about Cosby’s legacy being destroyed. It was conversational. Somehow this got twisted.”He also took out “forget those women” from his original article “because it was misunderstood and for no other reason.”

However, even with the clarification and adherence to grace, it is hard to see any real difference in either statement, particularly when during the original interview Friedman also writes: “Rashad dismisses claims from both Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson. ‘Oh, please,’ she said when their names came up.”

Rashad never offered an explanation for the “oh please” statement in her followup interview with ABC News. Perhaps her flippant dismissal of both Dickinson and Johnson’s alleged victimization was also a misquote too? Perhaps she meant, “Oh, please. I will have another scone and crumpet to go with my spot of tea. Pip pip and cheerio, old chap. And thank you…?”

In all seriousness, Rashad’s “oh please” mirrors what many sexual assault victims face at the hands of police, the justice system as well as the court of public opinion. The “oh please” tells us that just like so many sexual assault victims before them, Dickinson and Johnson are the wrong kind of victims. Why? Rashad never says.

As far as we know, neither has ever falsely accused any other man of allegedly doping and/or sexually assaulting them. We do know that Dickinson is a bit eccentric and Johnson admitted to using drugs in the past. Perhaps of sexual reputation or other less “dignified” personal behavior is enough to invalidate whatever act of violence might have happened to them? But if that is the case, what does make a victim worthy of belief, or the very least, having their allegations taken seriously enough to be investigated? Is it the actual crime itself or the person?

And more importantly, why isn’t their alleged victimization as important as Cosby’s legacy? Rashad insistence that we set the women aside and focus primarily on what these allegations are going to do when Cosby is long dead and gone (because that’s what we mean by legacy, right?) also highlights how we, as society, but more particularly a culture, have come to value appearance over the actuality of things. We do it with slave owning anti-Black presidents and other dignitaries. We do it with women-hating civil rights leaders and activists. And now we are doing it with comedians.

More specifically to the Black community, we often sacrifice our victimization and ignore the wrongs committed against us in favor of not looking angry. Or lazy. Or dishonest. Or worse, uncivilized and classless. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s consider the words of Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, who writes in Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880-1920:

The role of black churches, their educational institutions, and missionaries in disseminating bourgeois values underscores the bicultural reality of black existence in America. Stating in the days of slavery, but particularly in the decades thereafter, black men and women lived within spatial and ideological communities whose collective behavior developed not in a cultural vacuum, but in contexts continuously though unevenly informed by the social, political, and economic values and behavior of the dominant American society. Home missions and other self-help activities of black women served to inculcate within the masses of poor and uneducated blacks psychological allegiance to certain mainstream values and behavior. Such values and behavior, especially as related to motherhood and domestic duties, were deemed proper and correct, even if difficult to sustain in practice.”

In my opinion, the adherence to certain values and behaviors, particularly the ones that place appearance over substance, should not be sustained. In particular, when social graces and “class” are used to mask lots of dysfunctional, regressive and even anti-Black people behavior. And while Mistress Emily Post might be happy with Rashad’s performance, I have to say I’ve seen classier…