Dear William H. Cosby,
I’m writing this letter in order to get some things off my chest. I know this will likely never reach you, but this is just my way of venting.
First off, I wanted to say that I admired your work. I watched Fat Albert, the Cosby Show, A Different World and your stand-up shows. But then, in 2004, you delivered what would be known as the “Pound Cake” speech at the NAACP Awards Ceremony. You were critical of poor black folks, especially single mothers, baby daddies and young black males with no father figures. You did not blame this histories, past and contemporary, discrimination, segregation, the racial achievement gap, or any institutional and systematic socioeconomic or political factors. No. You blamed this on poor black people themselves which is the usual conservative end-all, be-all for why poor black folks are in prison or dead. But some black folks agreed with you. They agreed with your concept of respectability politics that suggests that things would be better for us if we just did better.
I must admit that, at first, I saw where you were coming from. I even agreed with some of your points while disagreeing with others. Since then, I disagreed more and more with your stance concerning the struggling black underclass, but I still admired you nonetheless. I still thought you were a great human being despite your opinions on the black poor.
But then, we hear about your sexual escapades involving drugging women and raping them, and all my respect crumbled. A comedian, a black male himself by the name of Hannibal Burress, brought up how you “raped women”, and since then it was all down hill from there. Your reputation, your image as well as the respect and adulation you’ve gained over the years started to dwindle into nothing as more and more women bravely came out and told the world how you treated them. These women have been harmed by you. Their lives have been altered because of you. And whether you want to face it or not, you are responsible.
I must also admit that in the beginning, I didn’t believe these women. As more and more victims came out, I started to think it was some kind of “plot” against you, a powerful black man loved around the world. I thought these women were nothing more than opportunists scheming to get at your money and their 15 minutes of fame. I thought what so many of your fans thought. But somewhere along the way, I started to realize that these women were not wrong at all, that you really did something against them. I started to consider that the man who made me laugh when I was little was a monster who harmed so many women, women who looked up to you and wanted your guidance. My only regret was that I didn’t see it sooner.
It was painful on a few levels to learn that you, Bill Cosby, a man who has done so much good for others and brought laughter to so many people, was a serial rapist. And dozen of women can not be wrong. But you know what’s especially uncomfortable about this whole mess is? It’s the fact that you are a black man, and I don’t know if you realize it, but we don’t have the best image when it comes to sexual relations.
I know there are those who will object to what I’m about to say, and tell me how this is a gender issue and not a race issue. But here me out nonetheless as we live in a racist society. You see, black men have a reputation among racist white folks as being natural-born rapists, brutes with an inability to control our sexual urges, especially when it comes to white women. White women to racist white people are seen as precious, pure and cosmically beautiful. Mr. Cosby, some of your victims are white women. And because of that, you helped to solidify a stereotype black men have been working so hard to destroy.
And it’s not just you. Sadly, there are some other black men who didn’t get the memo, because they were never taught their history or how the world sees them. You helped made things harder for black men everywhere.
Even more upsetting is that some of your victims are black women. How can we, as black men, stand up for freedom, while we harm our women? Consider how this must be devastating for not only your victims, but also your wife Camille and your daughters.
When it comes to rape, black men are interconnected with that word and its definition since slavery. It’s part of the white supremacist doctrine forced upon us through brutality. It’s no different than being associated with crime or fatherlessness. Black men have so many negative stereotypes attached to them that it becomes hard, practically harmful or even fatal, to just live in this nation that paints us all with a broad brush. Unlike white males, we don’t have the privilege of being seen as individuals when a member of our group commits a horrible crime. One black male rapist becomes a representative of the black male existence. We are guilty until proven innocent, and sometimes even then, it’s too late. One way or another, we are painted as the most evil, and you helped prove that notion.
What’s even more disappointing is that you also look like a colossal hypocrite. You sought fit to lecture black people on doing better when you were, as Burress pointed out, raped so many women throughout your career. (What makes you better than the people you scold?) God only knows how many women you actually harmed by your antics. But thank goodness some came out and told their stories.
Mr. Cosby, you have traumatized to a lot of people who looked up to you, and denying it will only make things worse for yourself and others. If by a microscopic chance this letter does somehow reach you, here’s what I implore you to do:
1. Confess and apologize to the women you harmed and the fans and family you saddened.
2. Get some help for your sick illness.
3. Find ways to repair the damage you’ve done to so many people and help fight against rape.
The problem of rape does not begin and end with you. It’s a social problem we must all confront and fix before there are any more victims. I only hope there will be more men out there that will join the cause and stop this problem for the sake of humanity. Why not take ownership for your sexual assaults and fix the damage you’ve left behind? Only then would you take the first step in redeeming yourself and help fight rape culture. What will you do, Mr. Cosby?