Day 7: Why Bill Cosby is coming off my son’s poster

I loved The Cosby Show. And it’s place in American pop culture – no one can take that away from Bill Cosby. But I want to speak about Phylicia Rashad’s decision to defend Cosby against the 20+ women who have now accused him of sexual assault.

First of all, I understand Rashad’s reluctance to want to believe the allegations. Assuming he was appropriate on the set, to her and everyone she knows, how can she reconcile that with the allegations. It’s hard. I’ve known people accused of domestic violence and sexual assault. It’s very difficult to sit with the person you know, by lived experience, and integrate terrible crimes they’ve been accused of.

But it just doesn’t make rational sense that 20+ women would subject themselves to media criticism, in order to tear down a beloved childhood icon. When it was one vague, settled out of court sexual harassment charge from the 1980’s – as it was up until recent years – it was easier to say, well, we will never know what the truth is. That’s why I included Cosby in the dozen or so African-American men on my son’s poster when I made it two years ago. It’s all important historical and cultural icons I wanted him to be able to emulate. The only rule was no athletes, because he’ll have plenty of people telling him he can be an athlete.

But the women keep speaking out. Women who have nothing to gain from telling their stories. Which is why I plan to re-make the poster and take Cosby off it. Because I don’t want my son to emulate Cosby.

It doesn’t mean I don’t still love The Cosby Show, or appreciate how important Cosby has been in contemporary pop culture and groundbreaking in television history. But as a person, he’s more deeply disturbed than any of us realized, and that is not what I hope for in my son.

The question is, who do I use in Cosby’s place? If I stick with groundbreaking comedians I’m inclined to go with Richard Pryor if I go by history, of W. Kamau Bell, if I go with who I follow and enjoy the most. But chef Marcus Samuelsson is compelling, although he’d be the only non-American on the
poster. Maybe all three? After all, Cosby – even if he is a rapist – has pretty big shoes to fill.


~ by realsupergirl on January 7, 2015.

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