Bill Cosby's Carefully Crafted Image is Shattered

I grew up listening to Bill Cosby comedy albums.  for whatever reason, I remember 'Why is There Air' like it was yesterday.  This album was recorded in 1965 at the Flamengo Hotel in Las Vegas.  That was almost fifty years ago and it reflects the supposed staying power that Bill Cosby once enjoyed.  Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids was one of my favorite cartoons.  It premiered in 1972 and played for 13 years.  Mr. Cosby's residuals must be astounding.

Some of Bill Cosby's current troubles started when he was working on a proposed pilot for a new show.  Bill, most people will call him that because we feel like we know him, is now seventy seven years old.  Once again, he was going to reprise his role as a loving patriarch who dispensed wisdom to three grown daughters with children.  I guess we can never get enough of the wholesome advice that he dispenses.  The Cosby Show ran from 1984 until 1982.  It featured Bill as an Obstetrician and Phylicia Rashad as an Attorney.  It launched careers for Lisa Bonet, Malcolm Jamal-Warner and Raven Symone.  The family was upper middle class and was the model for success for African Americans and other minorities.

Bill used this platform to begin to criticize the failings of lower income African Americans.  He went on a listening tour to a number of cities when he felt like lower income African Americans were not holding up their part of the deal.  Although the message might have been relevant, his present personal struggles make me wonder if he was the right person delivering the message.  Here is an excerpt from a reporter following one of his tours:

He has lambasted "lower-economic people," parents who spend more on athletic shoes than education, and children who use poor English and curse constantly. He has said blacks need to stop blaming whites and take control of their children and their communities.

He had some traction early on but many people got tired of his constant criticism of individuals and families trying to survive in a society where there is a serious problem with wealth inequality.

There was a woman who came forward this week who claimed that Bill drugged her drink and attempted to force himself on her back in 1965.  Imagine the courage it must take to reveal this type of encounter.  Many of the people who want to defend Bill would point to the fact that the statute of limitations has expired on attempted rape cases.  Bill's credibility to me was tarnished when he settled an assault allegation against Andrea Constand.  She was working for Temple University at the time.  She revealed a very similar tale of waking up alone with Bill Cosby after having been drugged.  She waited a year to press charges so she could not provide DNA or have her blood checked.  I can imagine the backlash she might have faced because Bill is a Temple alumni and a revered American icon.


The David Letterman show cancelled an appearance by Bill Cosby.  Ironically, after the Queen Latifah show cancelled an appearance, her show was recently cancelled.  Bill's comedy show on Netflix for Thanksgiving has been cancelled.  His planned comedy show on NBC has been cancelled also.  He claims that he will not justify these allegations against him with a response.  I think he might need to revisit this strategy.  I also am wondering why he feels the need to still try to provide guidance and provide entertainment for Americans.  There is such a thing called retirement.  He might have been better served staying out of the public eye. 

I was amused by a Facebook thread in which an individual tried to repudiate these claims because there were no abusers of color.  One came forward this week.  Why that was a reason for trying to keep Bill on a pedestal was beyond me.  This story is far from over unless Bill rides into the sunset.  Until then, I applaud the strength of the accusers to publicly admit their sordid encounters with an American hero that is rapidly falling from the dizzying heights he once occupied.  An admission might be a cause for criminal prosecution.  

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