I feel like our side won, and we should be proud of that.
The “we” being those of us who have argued from either day one or day 234 that Cosby is, in fact, guilty of drugging and sexually abusing women. #TeamCosbyDidIt. We told ya’ll so. And now look at you, all the false believers, eating crow and doing about-faces. Even Jill Scott, who was Cosby’s second most-influential supporter behind Phylicia Rashad, has thrown in the white towel of defeat. This is a great day for us. And we’re trying to be gracious about it. Honestly, we are. But after a long fought war where we were called everything from sell-out race traitors to Black man haters, we are definitely going to write a thousand think pieces reminding you all of how right we were…
And let’s not pretend like this issue wasn’t personal for a hell of a lot of us. The Cosby cases had stopped being about the actual women and their allegations a long time ago. Instead, this case touched on the long-standing idealogical and cultural divisions happening in the Black community, particularly around class and gender. And it created an immense wedge within the Black community, where everyone, regardless of age, gender, and religious beliefs, made passionate appeals to either his guilt or innocence.
The most vocal of them were the Black social conservatives, including Black misogynists, Black conservatives, and Cosby fans alike. They thought the allegations against him were the result of America’s long- standing tradition of tearing down powerful Black man, particularly ones who try to help their community. These were the same folks who ate large spoonfuls of Cosby’s Jello pudding jive. And according to many of these social conservatives, Cosby was a truth-teller and a visionary who wasn’t afraid to tell the Black community what was wrong with it. A conscious brother who promoted an old Black philosophy of empowerment and pride. He not only donated millions to help Black people empower themselves, but he sold us a wholesome image, both on and off the screen, of the type of people we should aspire to be. This was all the proof they needed of his innocence and genuine love for Black people. And he if he was telling us to pull our pants up and stop stealing, it was only because he loved us.
However, there were the Black social progressives, which included Black feminists and other liberals, who saw Cosby and his Jello jive speech as nothing more than White supremacy in blackface. Cosby was a man who blamed the lower social economic Black class, particularly Black mothers, for their own disenfranchisement. A man who rationalized the George Zimmerman verdict as an instance where there was no proof of his guilt. A man who had gone on cross-country tours promoting Black family values and respectability and telling Black people to stop whining about being preyed on by the White man. And all along, he was also a man who had been allegedly preying on women for decades.
Bill Cosby was not the pillar of Black respectability that he claimed to be. As such, the allegations were just another example of the hypocrisy of Black conservatism and why as a movement of thought, it is contrarian to true Black liberation. And it also pointed out the philosophy’s fundamental flaw: Sure, Cosby did lots of financial good for the Black community. But he was also a man who used his position of power to abuse a lot of us, particularly women. And how can a man claim to righteously love us if he is constantly beating on us?
Personally, this latest update in the Cosby case brought to mind every single bitter argument I had with Black conservatives who would not accept the fact that Cosby was very likely guilty of all the allegations against him. Folks like the cousin whose defense of Cosby included a reminder that “hoes lie” for money all the time, so there’s no way you can believe 40 of them. Or the one person I spoke to in passing who slyly tried to redefine rape by asking, “How is slipping someone a drug before you have sex with them considered rape?” Or that Facebook friend who said that these allegations are nothing but distractions from the revolutionary work Cosby was about to do for the Black community.
With a confirmation in his own words, those regressive detractors have been muted. And I can now lay down my sword and claim victory. And I can also rub it in their noses too. Yes, Cosby must fall. And so shall fall all other monuments to our oppression – be it bred out of race, patriarchy or respectability. Of course, there are the hardliners. Those who refuse to admit the possibility that Cosby is guilty. Those who feel that these accusations (and last I heard there were about 40 of them) are a part of some larger conspiracy to get the Black man. Those who will say “Well, if he is guilty why didn’t he go to jail?” For some, there will be no amount of proof that could make them believe otherwise.
But we’ll just put them in the same category as the crazies who refuse to believe that Tupac is dead or that the Willie Lynch letter is real or that the Confederate flag isn’t racist.