The recent avalanche of tawdry allegations directed at African American icon Bill Cosby resurrects feelings of profound loss akin to the deaths of Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. Although Cosbyʼs demise is not a physical death, it certainly feels like the larger than life persona we knew and loved for almost half a century is gone forever. The scurrilous attacks on Cosby however, follow a dangerous and alarming trend. In recent weeks and months we have witnessed an almost continuous parade of black men being plastered across the television screens as networks saturate the airwaves with the stories of alleged violence and lawlessness against women and kids.
The recent attacks on Cosbyʼs heretofore sterling reputation by half a dozen white women, who now claim rape and sexual misconduct in some cases thirty years later, doesn’t pass the smell test. In fact it stinks to high heaven of racism and cultural genocide. If white America through its cadre of cable news networks and endless supply of opinionated sycophants can sully and smear the legacy of a man of Cosbyʼs accomplishments without so much of a word of protest, then we as black folks have lost not just the battle but also the war. With one fell swoop, an endearing and enduring legacy of black pride and accomplishment has been destroyed. With Cosbyʼs destruction, comes one more nail in the coffin of the African American male’s battered and tattered perception of respectability.
Whether Cosby is guilty as charged is anybody’s guess. Far be it from me to decide Cosbyʼs guilt or innocence. What we do know is that throughout America’s history black men have been falsely accused of sexual misconduct involving white women, and paid with their lives at the hands of mob and vigilante injustice. Untold numbers of African American men have been lynched and murdered for “wayward eyes” and the mere suspicion of consorting with white women. I guess Mr. Cosby should be thankful it’s 2014 and not 1914. If so, this discussion and the aftermath would undoubtedly be much different.
There are those who legitimately raise the question of the likelihood of all twelve women lying. I don’t know, but stranger things have happened. It’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibility. This is especially true considering the questionable timing of the allegations, in some cases thirty years later by women who in some cases continued to have relations with Cosby long after the alleged rape took place. Among the most vociferous of Cosbyʼs accusers is Janice Dickinson, whose years of admitted and well chronicled drug-fueled lifestyle is the stuff of legend. Dickinson’s past and questionable choices in voluntarily taking a pill allegedly offered by Cosby raise serious questions about her credibility.
Whatever the case, I believe that Mr. Cosby has earned over a lifetime of achievement and public service, and at least the right of discretionary pause by those in the mainstream media who would so quickly rush to judgment.
Editor’s note: Gerald Torrence is a lawyer, educator, scholar, writer, social and political activist, and motivational speaker living in Atlanta. You can find more insightful opinions on TheTruthTeller at the-truth-teller.com. You can follow Gerald on Twitter @tttspokentruth.