Bill Cosby and the OJ Defense

Bill Cosby crawls out of the woodwork to claim racism

Since allegations of sexual misconduct, Bill Cosby has been relatively quiet. His lawyers would put out a press release proclaiming his innocence when a new woman came forward, and he shared how his health and eyesight was failing in efforts to garner sympathy. But for the most part, Cosby was under the radar.

Now his felony sexual assault trial starts soon and the public relations blitz has begun. Cosby’s daughter gave an interview declaring what a good father he was and how he couldn’t possibly assaulted those women. And today, Cosby himself gave an interview with SiriusXM host, Michael Smerconish on how the real cause of his problems is…racism.

I watched the Cosby Show like a lot of Americans. As an African American, it was great to see black people depicted as doctors and lawyers instead of criminals, thugs and slaves. No offense to Good Times (I loved that show) but it was relief that Blacks could be seen as middle class, not struggling to make ends meet.

Cosby’s character, Cliff Huxstable, was the cool dad that all Americans, Black and White, respected. Heck, most of us long for a dad like Dr. Huxstable who would listen to our problems and be active in finding a solution. The Cosby Show was popular for eight years and the spin of, A Different World, was also a hit.

So I can understand people not being able to separate the man from the character. At some point, however, you have to be able to do just that.

In his latest interview, Cosby claims that racism is at the heart of these allegations. Cosby believes and wants us to believe that he was targeted after speaking out against ‘Black culture’. Cosby made many speeches about African Americans with his most infamous being the Pound Cake speech. In the speech, Cosby said that African Americans should no longer blame discrimination, segregation, governmental institutions, or others for higher unemployment rates among blacks and for the racial achievement gap. He claimed that Blacks have their own culture of poverty to blame. It was the typical pull your pants up and you will make it in the world speech for which Cosby received a lot of backlash and rightly so.

Cosby isn’t the first black person to come out and preach personal responsibility to black folks. That seems to be the go to line for any black person that wants to be included in the conservative inner circle. It’s on the standard To Do List to get street cred among the far right.

  1. Schedule a performance in a rural town so you get a predominately white audience {check}
  2. Talk about how you made it as a black person despite all the odds against you {check}
  3. Acknowledge the racial barriers but bash other Black people for not being able to navigate past them {check}
  4. Blame Black mothers feeding into the stereotypes of welfare queens {check}
  5. Get standing ovation from white people who already have deeply embedded stereotypes of Black people. {check}
  6. Get more speaking gigs.
  7. Rinse and Repeat.

It’s the playbook used by most Black conservatives from Armstrong Williams to Ben Carson to Stacey Dash. And it works. How else could Ben Carson have a legitimate shot at the presidency as a republican? Side note: I would love to see one of these black conservatives go back to the same audiences and tell white people they need to pull themselves out of the trailer parks, take off the overalls and put down the meth pipe. I would wager the outcome wouldn’t be a standing ovation.

So as clueless as Cosby comments were, they aren’t the reason 50+ women came forward with allegations. Racism has nothing to do with the accusations against Cosby. Cosby isn’t a poor Black guy fighting against the ‘man’. He is more like Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes, rich men who used their power and money to prey on young women. And whose money and power encourage people to give them the benefit of the doubt even after 50+ women come forward. His wealth has shielded him from consequences of his actions for years.

Before OJ became the poster child for everything that was wrong with the Black community and the police departments, he was a rich Black guy accepted in richer whiter circles looking down on the black folks who couldn’t make it out. But OJ’s case was bigger than just him. It was the first time the rest of American got a glimpse at what black Americans had been saying about police departments. Black Americans weren’t standing up for OJ, we were standing up for our entire communities.

Now, Cosby wants to play to the sympathy of Black people but it’s not working. This isn’t a case of police misconduct like with OJ or more recently Eric Garner. Nor is it a case of inept prosecutors like with Trayvon Martin. This is a case of a rich man whose money helped him escape the law for years and whose time has run out.

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