Like many of the women who say they were assaulted by Bill Cosby, it took me two decades to gain the courage to reveal it publicly. His accusers – mostly white, so far – have faced retaliation, humiliation and skepticism by coming forward. As an African American woman, I felt the stakes for me were even higher. Historic images of black men being vilified en masse as sexually violent sent chills through my body. Telling my story wouldn’t only help bring down Cosby; I feared it would undermine the entire African American community.
When I first heard Andrea Constand and Tamara Green publicly tell their stories about being drugged and assaulted by Cosby, I wasn’t relieved; I was terrified. I knew these women weren’t fabricating stories and conspiring to destroy America’s favorite dad, but I did not want to see yet another African American man vilified in the media. As I debated whether to come forward, I struggled with where my allegiances should lie – with the women who were sexually victimized or with black America, which had been systemically victimized. I called several friends for advice. While some encouraged me to speak out, others were cautious – even angry. One friend, an African American man, insisted I should stay quiet: “You will be eaten alive, and for what? The black community is not going to support you.” It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but I think it was his way of protecting me.