By Nsenga K. Burton
America’s favorite Dad is now behind bars. A sad ending to a fairytale story of success against all odds in an entertainment industry not known for being historically kind to Black folk has come to an end. Bill Cosby, a man much admired and revered for his groundbreaking rise in Hollywood as an actor and then as a creator of one of the most successful television shows in television history (The Cosby Show), was sentenced to 3 to 10 years for the 2004 sexual assault of Andrea Constand.
America’s favorite dad has been found guilty in one of 60 accusations of sexual assault against womenaccusations he did not deny. In fact, Mr. Cosby said he gave women drugs (Quaaludes) to render them unconscious and then had sex with them, stating that it was what they did back in the day. However, 2004 isn’t exactly back in the day and copping to a criminal act in such a cavalier manner isn’t exactly bright. Even if drugging and raping women was standard practice at the Playboy Mansion and in Hollywood celebrity circles, that doesn’t mean the behavior doesn’t fit the legal definition of rape.
For example, many college students get “white boy wasted” and then have sex with each other on a regular basis. According to the laws in most states, a person cannot legally consent to sex when intoxicated. While the students may think they’re just being college students, they are in fact engaging in what is legally defined as rape and subject to prosecution if and when a person contacts authorities and alleges rape.
While Mr. Cosby and his lawyer insist he was behaving within the scope of what was acceptable sexual behavior in Hollywood over the last 30 or more years, he was in fact legally raping women during that time. When the father of four daughters fails to show empathy or offer remorse for the victims of his actions, then he and we should not be surprised when Cosby is labeled a “sexually violent predator,” and immediately remanded to prison following his sentencing hearing.
While some people’s heads are still spinning over the verdict and sentencing, others have lost their minds (See Andrew Wyatt). Cue the conspiracy theorists: Cosby was brought down because he was too rich and famous and tried to buy NBC. Cosby was brought down because the victims were white women and you know how America feels about Black men and white women. Actually, some of the alleged victims were Black women, but I digress. Cosby was brought down because they had to make an example out of a Black man and reinforce the stereotype of the sexual Black brute.
How about this fact? Bill Cosby was brought down because of Bill Cosby.
How many people can have 60+ allegations of sexual assault over 30 plus years and remain free? Three to 10 years for a serial rapist is too much time for some folks out here, saying the prosecution was hard on him. Hard on him? He admitted to the crimemultiple times. Prosecutors sat on evidence against him for decades. He will only serve three years with good behavior. Cosby should be counting his blessings, not allowing his publicist Andrew Wyatt to conflate the issue by saying Cosby and Brett Kavanaugh are caught up in “a sex war.” Really, Andrew?
Cosby is a pig at best and a serial rapist at worst and I suspect there are many men who never had to drug a woman into unconsciousness and have sex with them without her consent. The idea that someone is doing something to Bill Cosby, who has done plenty to his victims, because he’s Bill Cosby is asinine. Bill Cosby and his arrogance put Bill Cosby in jail.
Let’s say this together — Bill Cosby, the sexual predator is the same person as Bill Cosby the actor/producer/philanthropist — and folks need to wrap their minds around that fact. Black folks, especially women, don’t have to support Bill Cosby because he’s Black; behaving like race is the pre-determining factor in his conviction is vile. Race is a factor, which is the case with any Black person involved in the criminal justice system, but it isn’t the only reason Cosby is in prison. He is in prison because he drugs and rapes women.
Is it fair that at the same time folks are persecuting Cosby, some of those same folks are trying to will Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court? No. Should Cosby serve time, even though he is legally blind and 81-years-old? Yes. Prisons are full of people battling all kinds of illnesses including diabetes, hypertension, cancer and the like. For the record, if you’re interested in the possibility of house arrest, then having lavish parties at your estate close to the time when you’re being considered for house arrest is probably not a good idea, which leads me back to Mr. Cosby. Bill Cosby is in this mess because of Bill Cosby. He admitted to the crime of which he was accused and is serving time for it. Period.
The idea that Black folks need to spend their time rallying around and defending yet another sexual predator in the entertainment industry, who in this case is Black, is ridiculous. Forgive me for not feeling sorry for a man who literally had it all (amazing family, illustrious career and immense wealth) and messed it up by victimizing women.
Mr. Cosby has left scores of women traumatized due to his creepy and criminal actions and is getting what he deservestime in prison. He is exactly where he needs to be and should have been more than thirty years ago. America’s favorite dad, who was a pillar of the Black community, is a convicted rapist who is now behind bars. Deal with it and let the actual victims heal.
Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D. is culture and entertainment editor for NNPA/Black Press USA. She is also founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire, an award-winning news blog covering the African Diaspora. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual.
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