is one vindictive sistah of justice.
thought about her unforgiving wrath with the recent guilty verdict of
Bill Cosby. Cosby, once dubbed the “American Dad,” is the
target of a parade of women who have made sexual allegations against
admit that I was skeptical when the first rape accusation against
Bill Cosby came out. My skepticism was not about inherently not
believing rape victims; I’ve been working on violence against
women for too many years to be in that camp. However, I cannot be
oblivious to the history of Black men being falsely accused of rape
white by women. Neither can I be dismissive of America’s
treatment of Black men who get too big for their britches. But I was
convinced of Cosby’s guilt long before the recent retrial of
sexual assault of Andrea Constand.
me, his character flaws became more real and large after criticizing
Black mothers for buying their sons expensive Air Jordan tennis shoes
instead of investing in Hooked on Phonics. It was downhill from there
with more shaming of the Black community in his response to the
Trayvon Martin murder by racist vigilante George Zimmerman. At the
same time Cosby was hurling his moral and self-righteous indignities
at Black working class families, he was actively preying on women
knowing that his powerful status would provide him cover and
the preponderance of evidence, there are too many who believe in
Cosby’s innocence. There is a deep divide in the African
American community on the rape charges. That divide didn’t
close with the recent guilty verdict. We often give these predators a
pass because of who they are and because we love them as the
characters they play in the entertainment-sports world.
unconditional support of super-stars (and some not so super) is a
critical reason why girls and women are reluctant to come forth when
any form of sexual assault has been committed. It’s an
environment that smacks a victim into shame and silence whether they
are seven years young or 57 years old.
victims go way back. The public finally heard that these accusations
have been swirling in Hollywood for decades. We finally heard that in
Constand’s 2005 lawsuit that Cosby admitted to the use of
Quaaludes and giving women Benadryl to cause drowsiness. The exact
number of Cosby victims will probably never be known because in
addition to rape, there was the groping, attempted rape and other
forms of sexual harassment that women endured but decided to move on
with their lives.
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that 68
percent of sexual assaults don’t get reported to authorities
which means that 98 percent of the victimizers will face the justice
they deserve. The refusal to believe a female has little to do with
whether their attacker is a super-star. There are predators on the
lower rung who have gotten away with their dastardly deeds simply
because they were males and their voices carry more weight in a
matter how I’ve talked about rape from the standpoint of power
and control—and having little to do with sex—I can’t
count the number of debates I’ve had with men and women about
what a woman did to deserve such a horrific assault. What about the
shirt skirt she was wearing? And what time did she go to that man’s
hotel room? Why would he have to rape her when he can get any woman
he wants? How can it be rape when she knows him?
these biased questions prevailed. My hope is that the #Me Too and the
#Times Up Movements are going to take the issue of sexual violence to
a much deeper place. A place where people can truly understand the
underlying reasons for sexual control. A place where there’s a
believing community support system to embrace a victim and not vilify
him or her. A place where victimizers also get what they need in the
form of psychological help and consequences.
refused to shed a tear when heavy-weight boxer Mike Tyson went to
jail for rape or when Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein crashed from
grace. I won’t have any tears for Bill Cosby. Only sadness for
his family who must suffer the shame he selfishly bought upon them.
Only unconditional affirmation for his victims as well as other
victims of sexual violence.
ways big and small, we are all responsible for nurturing an
anti-woman environment where our worth is routinely ignored and
de-valued and therefore our pain and suffering becomes invisible.
That means we must all commit to working together to make sure time’s
up on sexual predators regardless of their relationship to the
victim, race, popularity or status.