Over the course of the past decade, charges that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted more than a dozen women have been reported in plenty of splashy venues: in Newsweek and Gawker, on-camera on “The Today Show” in 2005; in People magazine in 2006. During the same years, esteemed journalists including Kevin Merida and Ta-Nehisi Coates have dissected the racial messages that Cosby has been delivering around the country. Scholar Michael Eric Dyson even wrote a book about it.
Yet much of this stuff has remained unacknowledged in the context of Cosby celebration….
One reason that we have collectively plugged our ears against a decade of dismal revelations about Bill Cosby is that he made lots of Americans feel good about two things we rarely have reason to feel good about: race and gender. To confront the ugliness of Cosby’s alleged criminal misdeeds, especially in light of his rhetoric around racial responsibility, would mean reckoning with what was always fraught, false, or incomplete about his messages. It’s a process that is likely to make a lot of people feel very bad—not just about Cosby, but about ourselves and our nation’s persistent inequalities.