I have to admit, I played this whole ordeal wrong. I was one of THOSE people. The one who held out hope that, despite everything, Bill Cosby was in some way innocent. I was one of those people that completely ignored what my ears were hearing, what my eyes were showing me, and the logic that reasoned with me. I created an excuse for all of the women who accused him of heinous and despicable acts.
When the first 10 women lined up, I told myself it was a publicity stunt. When the number reached 20, I said "hey, it was the 70's... everyone was drugged up on SOMETHING." At 30, I started to believe the conspiracy theories about how network television was attempting to sabotage his efforts at establishing a new network, and that each of these women were all on the "industry's" payroll. By the time the total reached forty-two, I had already completely stopped paying attention. It wasn't until a deposition from 2005 was released where he admitted drugging women for sex that I was finally able to come to grips with the fact that Bill Cosby was a real life rapist.
Why was I so willing to ignore what was right in front of my eyes? Why were the accounts of over forty crying women on national television not enough to sway me? Why was I so willing to give Bill the benefit of the doubt?
Part of this can be contributed to the 80's Baby in me that failed to separate Bill Cosby, the person, from Bill Cosby, the actor. Not Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable. How could the face of black prosperity and family values in my childhood be a predator at the same time? No way could the man with the perfect life, perfect wife, and perfect family do something like this. But that was fiction. "Cliff" was a character. However in Cosby's case, Cliff translated off the screen into peoples real-life perception of his character. To much of Black America, Cosby and Huxtable were synonymous, so hearing that Dr. Huxtable was was a rapist is the same as hearing your best friend is a murderer... you just can't imagine it being true. Under any circumstance, it doesn't fit his "character".
An even greater part of my denial can, unfortunately, be contributed to a culture that has become perpetuated by a systemic disbelief when it comes to the claims of sexual assault. Far too often, accusations of rape are met with as much scrutiny as they are appall, especially when it comes to a celebrity figure being the focal point of the allegations. It is that skepticism that made it so difficult for each of those forty-two women, and thousands more around the country, to come forward with charges against their assailant. When you combine that culture with the fact that Bill Cosby was who he is, it makes publicizing claims like these even more impossible. It is that culture that would result in the public coming up with excuses as to why each and every one of those accusations couldn't possibly be true. Cosby was filthy rich. He could sleep with any woman he wanted to, when he wanted to. Why would he have to drug women to get them in bed? Most of these accusations came in the 70's where cocaine use, pill popping, and sexual freedom were at an all time high. They are all just looking for money. The very adoration that the public had for Cosby dissuaded the multitude of victims from seeking justice. He was "too famous". He was "too powerful". He was "too rich". Nobody would believe them. And to be honest, I didn't. Any of them. I was wrong.
Now that I know that I was wrong, what do I do now? How to I come to terms with my poorly misguided frame of thought. How do we, who fought the truth for the past two years, reconcile with our collective conscious. Do we now boycott all things "Cosby"? Should I turn the channel every time I see little Rudy singing Ray Charles on the staircase? Should I immediately cease my binge watching of "Different World" on Netflix? Should I never again watch Ghost Dad or Uptown Saturday Night?
To be honest, I don't have an answer to that. In an era where it seems like the answer to everything is to protest, to boycott, I find myself asking, "What good will that do"? Will that bring justice for all of those women who were raped? No. Justice would be Bill Cosby going to jail for the rest of his natural life which, at 77 years old, wouldn't be very long at all. Trouble is, in virtually all of these cases, the statute of limitations for criminal charges have long expired, leaving little recourse in the judicial system for the victims. There is, however, a good possibility that Cosby will die broke if the victims are in some way able to work their way around civil restrictions on limitations. Cosby's reputation is irreparably destroyed, and that may be what pains him the most. He has to live out the rest of his life knowing that he was once the face of values and morality, he had a whole community on his back, and now, he's nothing more than a cereal rapist. In that sense, he has lost everything.
Now I'm left to picking myself up and slowly rebuilding my adolescence, because it took a major hit.