Yesterday afternoon, I was doing my regular lunch break skim of current events making sure there was nothing I needed to bring to FatherWinter’s attention during our daily evening share and saw a bold headline that caught my eye. “Bill Cosby Drugged Me. This Is My Story.” Like everyone, I’ve seen and heard the numerous women who have stepped forward and stated that Mr. Cosby allegedly sexually assaulted them or drugged them. I listened to their story and reserved judgment as I have no idea who is or is not speaking accurately. This one, however, stopped me in my tracks. This article was written by Beverly Johnson. Yes, African-American CEO, model, legacy, ICON, Beverly Johnson.
This woman was the first African-American woman to grace the cover of Vogue. In 1975, she was the first African-American woman to appear on the French magazine cover Elle. This woman’s pictures were in Jet and Ebony. I remember seeing her in various media mentions as a youngster and well into young womanhood. As simple and wrong as it sounds, this woman immediately had some clout with me. This is not to say that the other women who have come forward have not struck a chord. They have. I have said in recent weeks that something must be going on because suddenly everyone is coming forward with the same story, same method of delivery, and same deep scares. Coming from a woman who has faced sexual abuse, I know how difficult it is to come forward and tell your story. I know the doubt and mockery that can come. I don’t take that away from any of these women. However, seeing Ms. Johnson’s face next to article and then again during her television interview on Today this morning drove this story a more out into the open for me.
The Cosby Show Photo Credit: In Flex we trust.com
Just what is really going on with Mr. Cosby? Like millions of other Americans, I grew up watching The Cosby Show on television. My great-grandmother, cousins, and I would sit in my great-grandmother’s room and would watch the antics of Cliff, Claire, Sandra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa, and Rudy. We loved the anniversary episode where Rudy sang to Cliff’s parents. I laughed out loud when Clair politely and assertively put Elvin in place after her spoke chauvinistic babble. This was our show. We were pleased to see positive representations of African-Americans on the television. Here, there were doctors and lawyers, entrepreneurs, business executives, musical artists. I saw possibility and familiarity as I knew I had relatives who’d attended college and knew it what I was going to do given the chance and opportunity. It was why I kept my grades up, why I studied hard, why I stayed out of trouble and didn’t follow the crowd. Mr. Cosby was a “good guy” to me and filled my desire for a father in a time when my father was unknown and not present. You can imagine my shock at the first case alerting of this issue. And, I sorrowfully admit that I thought “is this someone who is trying to blackmail him”. But then more and more women started coming forward. It seemed everyday someone else was giving an interview and showing support for the original alleged victim. And my thoughts took me to Tiger Woods.
Tiger Woods Photo credit: Desktopcover.com
Remember when Tiger and his former wife had their famous holiday episode where he crashed the car and she chased him with the golf club? At first it seemed some a small domestic issue, crazy, but isolated. Then, suddenly there was a woman who claimed she was having an affair with Tiger. The world laughed, but then came another, and another, and another until finally Tiger admitted that ALL of them were telling the truth. He’d been intimate and/or inappropriate with ALL of them while married to his wife. There was so much smoke in this instance and the fire was certainly revealed. Is it so wrong to wonder the same in this instance?
We’ve gone from one woman who has been mocked and ridiculed to several dozen. Each one with similar instances, similar storylines, and we’ve had no rebuttal from Mr. Cosby. This is definitely a smoke, yell fire situation, right? I have to say I am not in any position to judge anyone. I certainly don’t want to be judged, but with all of the noise that has been raised from these events recently, I’m not sure that my thoughts of Mr. Cosby’s brand will ever be the same.
It would appear the public is thinking the same. Mr. Cosby has lost his upcoming television show with NBC. He’s resigned from his Board of Trustee position with Temple University. Endorsements are being lost. In a strange way, it appears the alleged victims of this heinous act will have some comfort in they are being believed and heard despite what they feared.
I leave my musings with this: I will continue to watch this story develop, await to see if there is any word from the Cosby camp, and hope that appropriate punishment, apology, and change occurs.