So I'll admit that when the first accusations about Bill Cosby came out, I hoped that they weren't true just like everyone else. When several women began coming forward, even celebrity women like Janice Dickinson & Beverly Johnson it began to have more clout to me. I began Googling the story and came a across a timeline that laid out the story. I debated and argued with people about whether this was aconspiracy to pull down the black man.
I am absolutely unapologetically black, but I find that I am unable to accept the idea that this is a conspiracy. In order to believe that this is a conspiracy, I would have to believe that he did not assault any of the 25+ women who have come forward. That’s just an insane amount of people with the same story accusing someone. As the saying goes, where there is smoke there is fire.
What I do agree with is that many male public figures who have committed rape, some we know of some we don't, have had their legacies preserved. Undoubtedly, that has everything to do with race-- because all know how white people feel about Roman Polanski & Woody Allen.
But that cultural tendency to preserve a man’s legacy and obscure his history of sexual assault does not in any way negate what Bill Cosby has done. I know and understand the sore spot of rape allegations against black men by white women. I am extremely aware of this truth, but that would in no way negate sexually assaulting these women.
Mr. Cosby openly admitted to using Quaaludes to have sex with these women. Some perspective regarding Quaaludes: they were being prescribed at the time treated as a love drug at the time. They are also a sleeping pill. Granted maybe within that time slipping someone a 'mickey' was common place. But I've always been told to watch my drinks. Recently, language around what is rape & what isn't rape is living and changing. After 80 years of the definition of rape working as "forcibly against her will" to it being amended to "without the consent of the victim." what it means to rape and be raped has shifted within cultural perception.
When we think about rape we often think about a back alley, or a fight with someone physically forcing themselves upon someone else. However, rape statistically is carried out by someone you know and most likely trust. For example, a family friend or a family member.
This makes it complicated, and to make it come full circle, it makes it hard for the victim to admit being raped and us to believe an allegation of rape, often quickly dismissing it because, “a person ‘we’ love and trust could never do something such as rape.” Rape is reserved for men in a police sketches, not the men and women who eat at our tables, lay in bed with us or play our favorite TV dad. This is why rape is believed to be the most underreported crime.
Rape and sexual assault is a particularly highly prevalent issue in the black community but severely underreported. We have a culture of silence around sexual assault, and many black people and families prefer to keep those dealings within ourselves. Truthfully, I’m sick of it. Whenever a man has sexual assault allegations brought against him and people jump in to vehemently deny their truthfulness, I'm going to challenge that. That denial is how we shut down victims who already fear that no one will believe them. I won’t stand for it.
Point being: anyone is capable of rape and/or lewd behavior, which is why it’s important for us to reflect internally about consent. Did you bring that liquor and/or that blunt because you know someone might be less likely to consent with a clear head? Have you coaxed a partner? Guilted a partner? Women, have you ever assumed a guy wanted to have sex just because he was a guy and didn't even bother to ask? That said, rape is bigger than pointing a finger-- it’s a perverse culture that we all have participated in at some point because it was socially acceptable. And what is socially acceptable at a time does not necessarily make it right.
Below are some think pieces that delve deeper into rape and race, I encourage you to read them:
Devin McCray is a recent Beloit College Grad from Brooklyn, New York. Loves french bulldogs. And is looking for employment. :P