You know I love you. You know I respect your opinion, and you know that I appreciate all you sacrificed to raise me to be the strong, independent woman I am. You also know that we will never agree on certain things. Some examples of those differences of opinion are religion, LGBT rights, and the role of women in the household. Judging from the two heated discussions we have had on the Bill Cosby sexual assault situation, that is another matter we disagree on. While the others are things we have been able to agree to disagree on and never discuss again in the interest of preserving our relationship, this Bill Cosby situation is one I cannot keep my mouth shut on.
Daddy, I know what Bill Cosby means to you. In your eyes,the eyes of a black man who grew up during the turmoil of the Civil Rights movement and went to an all black high school in the racist south in the 1960’s, Bill Cosby means a lot to you. He represents the fact that a black man can overcome America’s racism to become successful and loved. He could get rich in a wholesome, respected way, and he could transcend seemingly impenetrable racial boundaries and a system that is built to benefit white people. He was, for the longest time, Cliff Huxtable, America’s dad, no matter the color of your skin. He was everything you wanted to be, and his family had everything you wanted for your own. He proved to you that, despite all you had learned about being Black in America, success was and is possible for a black man. I get that.
I also know that you cherish the memories of family time every Thursday night when I was a kid, wathcing The Cosby Show around the only small television we had. It was the only real family time we had, and it made us, the kids from your second wife, one family with the kids from your first wife. That family represented everything you wanted us to be, everything you thought we could be one day. Again, I get that.
However, you need to understand something. Bill Cosby is not Cliff Huxtable. Bill Cosby isn’t even Bill Cosby, at least not as he presented himself to the world for all those years. He put on an act, both as a celebrity and as a television character. What you need to understand, though, is that this is what actors do. Bill Cosby is, no matter what else he might be, a brilliant actor. Nobody is trying to take that away from him.
However, he is also a serial rapist. Daddy, the accusations started in the 80’s, at the height of his career. He couldn’t be touched, and law enforcement and victims alike knew it. Nobody dared drag him into a police station or a courtroom. Had they done so, the allegations would have been dismissed as ridiculous, as women looking for fame and fortune. However, now, as he ages, and at the end of his career, he can be exposed for what he is.
Now, let us look at the reasons you don’t want to believe it. You say Janice Dickinson is a liar and a drug addict and nobody should believe her. Did it ever occur to you that her behavior is typical of sexual assault victims? Maybe she turned to drugs and fame to bury the trauma and pain of being sexually assaulted by one of the most famous men in the world, and also knew that she’d never get real justice for what happened to her. Maybe that explains her unstable behavior. You also say that coming forward 40 years later is crazy, that they should have kept their mouths shut.
Well, as a sexual abuse victim, let me tell you that what you are doing, Daddy, is called victim blaming. I was sexually abused right under your nose as a child. Mom didn’t know about it until I was 18, and you didn’t know about it until I was 22. Do you know why? I was ashamed. I was traumatized. I thought I’d be blamed, and I thought nobody would believe me. This is typical of victims of sexual assault. We don’t come forward because of the same sorts of responses you are giving to the Bill Cosby situation- not believing the perpetrator is capable of such a heinous act, not being believed, being discredited, being ashamed. This is why it took so long for even one person to come forward. That one person’s courage gave courage to Cosby’s other victims.
Again, Daddy. I get it. Bill Cosby’s public persona and his character on his television show is representative of everything you have ever wanted to be, everything you ever wanted for your family. However, you also need to know that it is just that: a persona. Every time you try to explain away and apologize for what he did, you blame, shame, and re- victimize people who have already experienced what is perhaps the most heinous and personally violating crime imaginable, and that is wrong.
Daddy, I get it. You love and admire Bill Cosby. But it isn’t the real Bill Cosby you love, admire, look up to, and want to be like. It is a persona, and a television character. The real Bill Cosby is a serial rapist, and you need to face that. Don’t let those facts tarnish your memory of our Thursday night family time, but DO let the truth shine through so that you can show some respect and compassion for the victims. Believe me, you don’t want to be like the real Bill Cosby. You are a million times the man he ever has been or will ever be. You don’t need to be rich, famous, and untouchable for your crimes to be a successful black man in America. In fact, I’d say you’re a whole lot more successful as a person than Bill Cosby will ever be.
All My Love,