Every morning I wake up to the National Public Radio Broadcast. During the week it’s “Morning Edition” and on Saturday and Sunday it’s “Weekend Edition.” The news streams through my semi-conscious mind whether I plan to get up early or not. It’s a ritual I inherited from my parents…at least know something about the world you’re about to face.” This past Saturday I heard a segment with host Scott Simon where he was interviewing Bill and Camille Cosby about their lending 62 pieces from their extensive Black art collection for display at the Smithsonian. This is the kind of thing we have come to expect of the avuncular Mr. Cosby. But, there was something lingering in the air regarding our beloved, “Cos.”
Before I get into the “elephant in the room” I must give a disclaimer. I have always loved Bill Cosby’s humor. It spoke directly to me as a child who grew up in Philadelphia. I always understood his neighborhood references and “Philly-isms”–cheese steaks, hoagies, the game of Buck-Buck, and Fat Albert were constants in my community. I also loved that Bill Cosby could make you laugh without cussing you out. His humor reflected the funny side of just plain old living. When he brought his brand of humor to the TV screen I was delighted. Finally, there was something I could share with my own children that was not demeaning or ridiculous. Bill Cosby brought us a complex, Black middle class family that had challenges with their children while loving them unconditionally. They brought us traditions and family rituals and they exposed a new generation to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). I hated to see that series end.
However, about 17 years ago we started hearing disturbing accounts about Mr. Cosby’s marital infidelities and an alleged out of wedlock child. This was not in keeping with the Cosby brand. Instead of selling pudding pops and entertaining kids we were starting to see a mortal man–warts and all. And, if we were just talking about this one particular indiscretion I think most people would forgive him. However, about 10 years ago Mr. Cosby decided that the rest of Black people–especially poor Black people–needed to be lectured and taught how to live. He lambasted Black parents and Black youth for wearing low-slung pants, speaking Black vernacular, and doing poorly in school. He called us thugs and welfare queens. All of a sudden Mr. Cosby wasn’t everybody’s dad…he was Uncle Ruckus. He hated us and didn’t want anything to do with us until we “cleaned up our act!”
But lurking behind Mr. Cosby’s self-righteous pronouncements was a string of accusations from women who claimed that he had sexually assaulted them. They alleged predatory behavior that involved being drugged and sexually assaulted. In the NPR interview Saturday Scott Simon said he had to ask about the alleged assaults. The radio went dead silent. Mr. Simon acknowledged that Cosby just shook his head. Simon asked another question about the allegations. Again, Mr. Cosby gave no response and Simon reported, “You are shaking your head no. I guess that means you will not answer.” Later I learned that Mr. Cosby had cancelled a scheduled appearance on the David Letterman Show this week.
I know responding “no comment” is not an admission of guilt but trust me, Mr. Cosby we have our suspicions. My late mother would say, “People who live in glass houses can’t throw rocks.” But, Mr. Cosby you threw the rocks…now we want to look inside your house. I know…”no comment!” But, we’ve got our suspicions!
Stay Black & Smart!
A glass house indeed. I do believe that something “broke” with Mr. Cosby when his son Ennis was robbed and murdered in 1997. I am not making excuses. If he is guilty of the alleged sex crimes, he should be have his day in a court of law and if found guilty punished for his crimes. I would hope, however, that he is required to under go extensive evaluation for any mental illness. No excuses, perhaps treatment, for a man who has been “broken” for awhile now.