Like most black people of my generation, I grew up watching Fat Albert, The Cosby Show, and A Different World. Bill Cosby was everyone’s pretend dad, and those pudding pops were delicious. Later, I developed such huge respect for Cosby as he gave millions to historically black colleges and encouraged us to be as brilliant as our brains would allow. I hooted at his bravery at addressing the shameful out-of-wedlock rate in the black community. I admired how he and his wife appeared to have a loving and long lasting union, which is virtually unheard of in Hollywood.
So when I heard that Cosby had a dark side, I didn’t want to believe it. How could I reconcile with the idea that the man I wished was my rich uncle could admit to drugging women who would later claim were sexually violated by this man? I reserved judgement at first, but I didn’t automatically give a knee-jerk proclamation of his innocence despite of all the reasons I stated above. But as the floodgates began to break and more and more women came out to tell virtually identical tales of being drugged and waking with Cosby’s naked body looming above their naked body, I observed prominent black women do what we always do: Defend and deify our communities sacred cows. Jill Scott is most famous for it, and no one will soon forget how much egg she has on her face after proclaiming Cosby to be innocent until she was forced to redact it with an equally public mia culpa. Misee Harris, my former friend, wrote a piece called, Bill Cosby Accusers Lied : These Chicks Ain’t Loyal.
That’s an interesting choice of words, and I’ll focus on the last one: LOYAL. Black women have been trained virtually from birth to swear loyalty and fidelity to the black community and it’s “sacred saints” unquestionably. It’s why Eddie Long still has a church and Reverend Dollar got his coveted gulf stream jet. We may be suspicious of outsiders, but the people (the men especially) whom we embrace as icons are to never be questioned or critically analyzed. And therein lies the danger. If you never allow yourself to critically analyze the actions of the people who lead you, they are capable to leading your right off a cliff.
Another problem with our insistence that our “sacred saints” be perfect is that we get blind spots about their vices and human weaknesses. If our leaders are perfect, they have no weaknesses, and if anyone dare to say so, they are filleted and skewered over the coals. We blame the victim instead of digging deeper. We refuse to believe, like all mere mortals,, our “sacred saints” are merely human just like us, multilayered and capable of both greatness and depravity.
The expectation of complete loyalty in our “sacred saints” is an example of how, despite those who wish to claim the contrary, the black community clings to patriarchal ideals and the superiority of men over women. But what’s most sad to see is how black women blindly accept that they must tolerate these behaviors, even when they reach the heights of celebrity and education and professional success. Virtually none of us have escaped the poisoned Kool Aid that has been sprayed for our consumption.
I seriously think the government should study the black community for techniques in brain washing. We’ve got that shit down to a science.