Folks have been asking me when I would say something about the Bill Cosby accusations. When it comes to media sensationalism, I like to think I am pretty well balanced in my views. Mainly because of the friends I have had for a very long time in entertainment and the stories I know that never make the news, I am never really surprised about any accusations that come against anyone with Hollywood or top level music industry connections. However, as black folk we are a little more cynical when it comes down to attacks against black celebrities, especially when it appears like a game of pile on
With the O. J. Simpson case, most of us knew he was guilty. But as I wrote in an op-ed piece back in 1994, celebration of his acquittal was not about O.J., but about the economic expediency upon which the black and the poor face disproportionate rates of conviction and incarceration over and above white people arrested for the same crimes. Though undeservedly celebrated, O.J. Simpson was simply that black face that gave the system a taste of its own medicine.
When it came to Mike Tyson, that one was just too easy. Mike was already perceived as the most dangerous black man on the planet. There is not a groupie in this world who did not know what she was getting into going back to a hotel room with Mike Tyson except a naive college student he met at a Miss Black America Pageant. Mike deserved to go to prison because no woman deserves to be raped.
But I also know that the entertainment world is full of professional victims. Ask Kobe Bryant of the Lakers. The world is full of women who are sexual extortionists who will use the guilt by default perception to try to get money out of a man. It happens everyday- especially the more famous you become. Only Kobe was young enough and dumb enough to be seen as the cheating celebrity idiot that he was among many of his peers who were quietly guilty of the same thing. Kobe wasn’t a creepy old rich sexual predator going after younger girls so the media did its due diligence to look at the motives of the accuser. Even the sexual excesses of Tiger Woods weren’t any different than what is glorified in movies about rock stars. Tiger’s escapades were sensationalized because he was married to a white female.
When it came to Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, I was pretty much disgusted with them both. This was simply the system pitting two black people against each other for political points. Say what you will about the politics of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas but Anita Hill was no victim. Were it not for the fact that Thomas was basically a Republican conservative married to a white woman, black folk would have told Anita Hill to sit her ass down and shut up. There are many jokes said between men and women on every level of relationship that a woman can’t just come back when it is politically to her advantage and complain about after she was comfortable enough to follow him to work in another office. That situation was just downright dirty politics. I would have loved for Thomas not to have made it to the Supreme Court- just not that way.
When it came to Michel Jackson, all I can say is what a precious, naive and stupid fool. No one will ever be able to convince me he molested a child. Michael Jackson was a child in so many ways. I don’t believe there was a single parent of one of his so-called victims who believed he did anything but leave himself wide open for extortion. When you are that big with that kind of fame and money and totally clueless when it comes down to the propriety of how a grown man should act with kids that don’t belong to you, this world will eat you alive. All the Michael Jackson accusations were about the media and money.
When I mention the recently deceased Marion Barry, a lot of my readers were not alive when he was Mayor of Washington DC the first time around and you don’t understand the politics of Washington with its high black population but basically controlled by congress. In the 1980s Marion Barry was a champion of the poor. He poured money into summer jobs and recreation programs that kept kids off the streets. There are many successful black adults today who benefited from his programs. Congress hated his community focus so they set him up. Barry did not have the benefit of friends in high places to cover his drug addiction so he went to prison after an FBI sting.
And yet no sooner than he was released, black DC voted him back into office because Barry never stole anything or hurt anybody but himself. However, that kind of redemption is only supposed to be reserved for white politicians so Congress stripped the Mayor’s office of its power. One of the reasons white conservatives have worked so hard to redraw the voting districts and have all of these new voter ID laws stems back to the voting power of black people that put Barry right back into office and there wasn’t a damn thing they could do about it. As whites diminish more as the majority, they are cheating the system to stay in power by redistricting and creating voting ghettos thereby canceling the ability of the minority vote to affect many of the elections that used to be more competitive. This is why state representative, secretary of state, and gubernatorial races are so important. Chocolate City power simply could not be allowed to replicate through the states.
Now the media is playing games with NFL players Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. I already wrote about this in previous articles but some points are worth repeating. Adrian Peterson whooped his kid with a switch? Well whoop de do. If they charged every parent with that when I grew up, everybody would be on probation. This is clearly a case where black folk especially need to step away from their liberal white friends whose rude disrespectful narcissistic kids are not being shot daily by police or disproportionately imprisoned. And you also need to think twice about who you marry and have kids with because your kids, however yella they are, still are black to white cops and you can’t be fooling yourself or trying to pacify a clueless white wife or her family as to why your kids need to be raised a certain way.
The last people in the world who need to be telling black people how to raise black kids are white people whose historic institutional racism and latter disenfranchisement are largely responsible for the current conditions of the community and the marginalizing of black life within the justice system. The stuff that comes out of the mouths of white kids to their parents, as even celebrated in a Doritos commercial, I would not have had an ass or teeth left if I even thought about copping that kind of attitude when I was little. By today’s great white media standard, my mother would have been in jail if I was that so-called Cowboy Kid in the Doritos commercial. Adrian Peterson owes nobody an apology.
On the other hand, no matter how you slice it, Ray Rice got what he deserved. Despite the fact that I think his, now wife, suffers from some psychological issues that the NFL took into consideration and tried to keep quiet, given the video tape, it was impossible and remains impossible to let him off the hook without putting their whole relationship under the public microscope. Even with that you leave the truth open to manipulation by people with other motives and agendas.
White people will forgive a dog and feed it a steak faster than they will forgive a black man for kicking a dog. Ask Michael Vick. And yet they will stand by and raise tens of thousands of dollars to support trigger happy cops and other white people who kill unarmed blacks. We can’t say they treat us like dogs because their dogs live better and I guess the concept of blaming the owner simply does not apply to nearly 500 years of slavery followed by generations of being treated like a stray mutt. Being black with money will only buy you a good lawyer. But these women’s groups which are fueling this with the NFL are not interested in the truth. Like the prosecution, they are only interested in making their case. And we all know you get an automatic higher conviction rate on a black man.
Unless your name is Bill Cosby. Let me get the first question out of the way. Do I think Bill Cosby is guilty? Yes I do. Like I said, I have a lot of friends in entertainment older than me and I know and I understand the culture behind power and celebrity and how much is covered up as long as you are making money for the powers that be.
Cosby’s legacy extends long before the age of the internet. He was born and emerged during a time when the media kept quiet that President Roosevelt could not walk, hid the infidelity of John F. Kennedy, and even in modern times went out of their way not to report on Strom Thurmond’s black daughter while this man ran for president as a racist segregationist and remained in the U.S. Senate for 48 years voting against the interest of minorities until he finally retired and died in 2003.
So when you ask how could such a thing be going on so long and these people only now start talking, you need only look to Essie Mae Washington-Williams who the media did not fully publish her story until she was in her mid 70’s and only after Strom Thurmond died. Yet she was a very well known secret for decades. You need only to look at how surprised white people are about black people being shot unarmed and disproportionately convicted of crimes where white people get acquitted. You need only look at this generation of black folk finally understanding that if you have no representation of your interests in politics, on a school board, or in a police force, it is because you have failed to vote.
Like those whose racist past actions in what they thought was a bygone civil rights era would never come back to haunt them, Cosby is now being visited by the ghosts of Hollywood excess in a social media age where he has attempted to remain relevant. Only now, the usual methods of quieting a story no longer exist. Traditional news and entertainment outlets that could be threatened or bought off have been replaced by lawless social networks as dangerous as ISIS.
In the case of Rice and Peterson, it has resulted in a disproportionate white opinion representation that the NFL translates into a marketing disaster that has forced their hand. When you also factor in the digital divide which results in statistically lesser numbers of blacks with internet access, you create a media adversarial system that appears to look like a pile on against blacks due to a lack of diverse voices of color. And the black voices that are represented are usually hand picked and threatened with suspension if they do not share the prevailing white opinion on such matters. A true poll of black opinion in the Rice and Peterson NFL cases are starkly different than that of the black mouth pieces on TV who are being paid to shape opinion.
Still, the question remains. If all the accusations are true, why Cosby? And why now? The most obvious answer is social media being the great equalizer against a once insurmountable power. None of these women would have had a chance to appear credible before the age of the mass community verdict which yields even greater weight than an actual court case. If you can get enough people to talk about anything online, you can get Adrian Peterson, the NFL’s premier rusher kicked out for using a switch to discipline a child when there is hardly a black person outside of Oprah, who stopped being black after she left her Afro at WJZ in Baltimore, who would have given that story a second glance. These social media mob juries can be dangerous waters for some, but also sweet vindication to others.
Just like President Kennedy and Senator Strom Thurmond, there were always powers who were aware of Cosby’s actions. Lackeys that are stepping forth now to admit their complicity in the cover ups who valued their jobs over and above their conscience. Like the recent guy who held onto copies of money orders used to pay off girls victimized by Cosby not unlike the semen stained dress of Monica Lewinsky. These people only grow a conscience when it is in their best interest.
You see, the power of the entertainment industry is very seductive, addicting, and a conscience destroyer. That is why a man of conscience like Barry Sanders retired early from the NFL. The evils of celebrity and appalling vanity you must allow to possess you in order to live within it are too much for a lot of people. That is the reason I never sought it after I realized the price associated with it.
It is an industry known for its excesses, even drugging children and looking the other way. It is a community of cover ups. Cosby was brought up through the heyday of the Untouchables where if you have fame, power, and money, there is only one obstacle in life left for you to conquer- impunity. After being able to get anything and anybody you want, the only high left for you is what your power will allow you to steal or actually get away with. That is where the old adage that absolute power corrupts absolutely comes from. Those are the news stories that leave so many with so little scratching their heads. Like how can a person worth millions be caught shoplifting something so minor and risk their millions over it? Because after you have everything, the only thing left is to have no rules apply to you- IMPUNITY.
Once the studios were complicit, granting Cosby impunity, he adopted a mentality of hubris- an almost godlike self importance. All gods live a life of impunity because there is no equal to correct them. They over compensate for their guilt through unequaled generosity. Every ancient story of a god’s remorse is followed by an act of immense love or generosity that they hope will outlive their misdeed. Many of Cosby’s older entertainment contemporaries successfully did just that. They understood that the world had changed and they became quiet elder statesmen whom everyone knew lived through periods of excess and took it to their grave without the world being the wiser and their victims accepting their generosity as unspoken penance for their past indiscretions.
As such, Cosby mistook the quiet of his victims as acceptance of his remorse through his benevolence. But Cosby’s desire to remain relevant came with controversial statements which also divided the community and fostered debates that rattled those same skeletons who were still very much alive and could speak to and about his moral authority to lead those conversations.
Now, in his continued hubris, he believes that his silence on these matters will also make him appear invisible- that somehow that veil of impunity will be resurrected. He has yet to realize that the threads that were once a part of that veil are also now choosing to talk. After all, those who participated in the cover ups considered their past role in it as an investment in a future that would someday pay them handsomely for what they know. It is all standard fare in the annuls of “Tell All Hollywood” after the fact.
Now before you become dismissive of the facts because you believe too much time has gone by for any of these women to be considered credible, you need to consider that for all the good the Catholic Church has done, it still sustained a pedophile factory of priests that victimized children worldwide for who knows how many years despite its pro family and anti-gay stance. How long did it take for that to become news and for the grown victims to be recognized? On a more personal note, how many women do you know who were raped and the rapist still walks because of past perceived fear of their power or authority or guilt by the victim of being the one to bring such trouble out in the open. When it comes to rape there is a staggering amount of quiet victims.
Cosby is 77 and is boxed in. He simply cannot say much about these accusations. He has nothing to gain by opening his mouth. Anything he says can be examined or cross examined meticulously in the media in far greater measure than the restraint attached to court testimony or rules of evidence. Critics like to say that his lack of words are telling. I disagree. What is telling is the carefulness of his words. Conversely these women really have nothing to gain in opening their mouths now but the restoration of their dignity now that modern times have emancipated them from the strong arm bondage of a media previously historically in cahoots and beholden to the advertising dollars of Hollywood and Madison Avenue.
Cosby’s people cut the fuse and threw water on the powder keg. They didn’t count on time drying it out before he died. They didn’t count on Chicago born and raised black comedian Hannibal Buress stumbling on the accusations online and giving them some serious study and using it to make a social commentary in his act. They didn’t count on young people who had only seen Cosby in reruns who would look to see if it was just another internet rumor and the viral fuse that it lit throughout social media that would find and ignite every indexed story. That translated into a preponderance of evidence to the gullible and the naive. But it also gave power to truth which allowed it to finally speak truth to power with backup. The mainstream media simply could not dismiss it this time.
And neither can we. In the decades that followed Civil Rights, came a lot of social programs intended to help the black community. There was also a lot of resistance against those social programs that politicians like Marion Barry and activists like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton had to defend even if they had to lie about the facts to sustain the momentum of progress. It was just the way the game was played.
But that was then. This is now. We can no longer lie about the truth just so we can’t give racist white people with so called conservative agendas the satisfaction of being factually correct even though we know how far they will go to distort those facts. That strategy was born out of politically choosing to try to beat white folk at their own game. But that is not who we can be anymore.
We can no longer be apologists for black people just for the sake of protecting blackness. That narrative only sustains a victim mentality within our children who, despite continued inequities, are still far more privileged than we or our fathers have known and are far more integrated than our generation for whom a lot of our experiences are only stories to them. They are part of a generational nexus where hip hop loving white kids and Internet nerds possess a sense of fairness that is not bound to the legacies we try to tie them to.
We can only educate them as to our experiences. We can no longer expect them to live the fears that we are burdened with as a result of those experiences. They have to find their own way. My father’s ambivalence toward whites was profound and clear because of his life experiences. Nothing going on with Ferguson would surprise him given the generation that is largely in power there. He warned me about that generation, but he encouraged me to seek hope within my own .
In essence, the greatest gift he gave me was permission to be disloyal to his fears. Because of that, I was able to to take the most noble aspects of those lessons and allow them to guide me through my own struggles and successes. I know there are those more historically versed than even I, who will refuse to give up Cosby because they know what a blow it will be against black progress to give white racists such a powerful tool in their arsenal of supremacist weaponry. But I now stand at the place where my father once stood and I can neither command of myself nor of the progeny of blackness a loyalty to Cosby for blackness sake. I can only mourn the loss of an icon.
The war of true progress demands of us the merciless brutality of truth, from which causalities will emerge from both the living and the once celebrated posthumous dead. The Internet age is an unyielding storm upon life’s waters. It can toss us to and fro. It can sicken us. It can cause our lives to capsize. It can create waves too strong in which to swim. It can chill you to the bone while treading water and bring fear to your heart as predatory fins surround you.
Yet not every high wind and tall wave is a storm. Sometimes they are a result of someone else s rain. You can either allow your life to capsize, or you can turn your veil into a sail and ride the truth home. These are Cosby’s rainy days. Storm clouds that he seeded long ago. Where the winds from it take you, is entirely your choice. -NEO BLAQNESS