Crucified? Sorry superfans, but Bill Cosby is nobody’s martyr
Reaction to comic’s conviction and sentencing reveals an all-too common strain of sexism.
Bill Cosby’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, compares him to Jesus being mercilessly crucified on the cross. The prosecution pegs him as a “sexually violent predator,” but now that he’s been sentenced to three to 10 years behind bars for the sexual assault of Andrea Constand, what does Black America believe about Bill Cosby?
Sadly, the collective social media reaction to the implosion of the noted philanthropist and one-time hero known as “Heathcliff Huxtable” is shaping up as a tale of two timelines: with a number of male supporters claiming he was set up and women decrying the lack of belief in female victims of sexual abuse.
It’s not shocking that there’s such stark division along gender lines, but it is surprising that some of Cosby’s staunchest defenders are oblivious to their own hypocrisy. They are clearly not applying the same logic they leveraged in the outcome of the R. Kelly case.
You can’t vigorously defend the self-proclaimed “Pied Piper of R &B” and his long-rumored predatory tendencies toward Black girls on the basis of a 2008 “not guilty” verdict, then reverse yourself and suggest the same celebrity and wealth-influenced system that freed Kelly betrayed Cosby.
All you’re proving is that women, no matter their race or class, are generally not believed when it comes to sexual assault.
It is this corrosive and sexist line of thinking that enables Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh to still be in serious consideration for confirmation though not one, but at least two (maybe three), accusers have stepped up to accuse him of sexual assault. It also empowered his advocate, 45 Savage, to be busted on tape boasting about grabbing women by the p*ssy, yet go on to win the election and be sworn in as President.
This isn’t a simple Black and White issue, despite obvious racial disparities in the legal system and the existence of “affluenza.” The same flawed logic and disbelief in the veracity of women’s words is why Kavanaugh’s would-be peer (and decidedly Black) Clarence Thomas is on anybody’s bench, let alone the highest court in the land.
Had Anita Hill received the respect and unilateral support (hey, Joe Biden) she deserved, Thomas would be somewhere working under an assumed name a la “Better Call Saul” selling pre-paid legal services.
Hill and far too many other Black women have been silenced by men who falsely and cruelly claim they aren’t feminine enough, respectable enough, or believable enough to deserve justice against sexual assault perpetrators. Though false accusations of sexual assault are uncommon, negative reaction to its predominantly female victims runs rampant.
Any man who continues to relentlessly ride for Cosby, despite not knowing him any better than you do his long list of accusers, is sending a disturbing and misogynistic message that no matter the evidence piling up against him, a beloved Black man like Cosby is unimpeachable or should go free merely because their White counterparts—Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Sheen, and others— are seemingly getting away with abuses. In reality, we should raise our collective voices to make sure that White men face equal punishment in order to make this a safer, and decidedly less sexist, society.
#FactsOnly: Cosby is going to prison, whether you believe his accusers— a number that does include Black women— or not. Further, his fall from grace is no more a reflection on African Americans than the happily married “Heathcliff Huxtable” seems to be.
Some men are spending a reckless amount of their personal credibility defending a stranger they “know” only from behind the warm glow of a TV screen. That energy would be better extended support, not further silencing, actual victims of an all-too common crime.
Kyra Kyles is a nationally known multiplatform media executive, author, and speaker on media diversity. In addition to her 20-plus years as a journalist, including a tenure as Editor-in-Chief of EBONY and a multimedia correspondent/columnist for the Tribune Company, Kyra is the Chicago-based co-founder of content development collective, Myth Lab Entertainment and a contributor to outlets including TheGrio and Bustle. Follow and interact with her via @thekylesfiles on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. That is, unless you’re some kind of troll or card-carrying member of #LawrenceHive.