Thursday, November 20, 2014

Why are black women supporting Bill Cosby?

Can we talk? I mean, can we really, really talk?

I’m upset with the comments of some black women popping up in my Facebook news feed.  I’m not sure how to take it all.  I mean, I’m a man.  I don’t know what it feels like to carry all that comes with being mistreated as a woman.  I don’t claim to be an expert, but I do my best to understand.

So, help me understand why so many black women are defending Bill Cosby?  Why are they attacking the 13 women who accuse Cosby of drugging and raping them over the years?  Why are they challenging the credibility of those accusations because it happened so long ago?

Help a brother understand.

I recognize why the image of Dr. Huxtable remains fixated in the imagination of those who grew up with Claire, Cliff and those adorable children.  Could it be that Cosby’s television persona kindles memories that help us feel warm and fuzzy when we watch those reruns? Are black women afraid of losing their model of marriage, parenting and career success?

I get all of that, but help me understand why women are throwing other women under the bus.  This troubles me for numerous reasons.  Top on my list of confusion regards the number of women I have dated who have experienced sexual assault. 

Get this.  I can’t think of one woman who hasn’t. Not one.  I’ll confess I’ve dated more than enough to draw an adequate conclusion. Many of those women have experienced multiple rapes.  Some have been drugged, beaten and raped. One escaped in the middle of the day while running with no clothes to cover her body.  Many were raped by family members.  It’s a long, pathetic list that exposes the ghastly ways of men.

All of them are black.  They represent the vast experiences of black women.  Some are highly educated. Others are high school graduates with amazing careers. In other words, it doesn’t matter how much money they earn or where they received training.  Black women, from all walks of life, catch Hell from men. And, it’s not just black men who use the bodies of black women for play.

Given the common experiences of black women, help me understand how a woman can’t understand why a woman refuses to speak up after being raped.  The women I know didn’t speak up.  They kept it to themselves for a variety of reasons.  Some feared retaliation.  Others felt no one would believe them.  A bunch of them merely wanted the nightmare to go away.

They didn’t want their names dragged in public space.  They didn’t want their friends to know.  They dreaded being labeled.  You know, it’s because of the way you dress.  You carried yourself like you wanted it.  You’re not innocent – you’re a whore who asked for it.

Why wouldn’t they believe all of that?  Isn’t that the common encounter of those who yell their truth?  Help me women! Isn’t that what happens? Isn’t that what happened to you? Isn’t that the reason you kept it to yourself?

I’ll say it again, I’m not an expert on how it feels to be a woman, but I am when it comes to doing my best to carry the burden of a woman I love.  Loving a woman means listening and embracing everything she has experienced.

What does that look like?

It means standing for any woman who screams rape.  It means fighting on behalf of all victims of sexual assault.  It means not calling her a liar when she says he drugged and raped her, and she was afraid to speak.

Yes, I’m aware of all the liars who make it hard to stand.  Yes, I’m still pissed at Wanetta Gibson for fabricating a story that landed Brian Banks in prison (see Rev-elution: Brian Banks not only victim of Wanetta Gibson lie, June 2013). I accept the hostility people feel towards Crystal Magum for accusing members of the Duke Lacrosse team of sexual assault.  That stuff is real, but none of that has any bearing regarding a case involving the claims of 13 women.

Help me understand black women.  Is it because most of the women are white?  Is it because you refuse to believe your television dad would do such a thing?  Is your refusal to accept the possibility of guilt rooted in a need to claim racial solidarity?

I’m not refuting your right to cling to support, but help me, please help me understand.

If anyone understands being screwed, it should be you.  So help a brother out.

Listening still.





1 comment:

  1. I believe the defenses are for all the reasons you cited, plus the deeply justified anger over the memory of black men who've been lynched in the past just on the basis of flimsy allegations by white women. The problem with applying that to Bill Cosby is that he was protected for a long time because of his ability to earn revenue for the powers-that-be in Hollywood, along with the benign image he cultivated. It was as far as anyone could get from the big, scary black man stereotype. Because of these things, a lot of black women simply cannot relate to white women, especially those accusing a black man of raping them. It's a sad commentary that too many among us believe in protecting black men, even when they are accused of doing something as egregious as raping even black women. As a black woman myself, I firmly believe that defending him means ignoring the fact that he's been paying off women for years. It also means ignoring the fact that he's paid off and intimidated news outlets to keep them from printing these stories about him. And I see it as a travesty to compare him with actual victims like Emmitt Till, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and many others, men and women.