Phylicia Rashad’s support of Bill Cosby highlights division in the Black community

Within the case of the 83-year-old actor, it’s truly dozens of ladies — the vast majority of them White — over a number of years who alleged sexual misconduct by Cosby courting again a long time. (Cosby has constantly denied the allegations.)

Properly earlier than Cosby was convicted and sentenced in 2018 to a few to 10 years in a state jail for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his residence in 2004, there was a lot debate over his guilt and innocence.

However no the place extra so than within the Black group, the place Cosby had meant a lot as each an entertainer and an advocate for schooling.

America’s favourite dad

“The Cosby Show” was groundbreaking tv.

Operating from 1984 to 1992 on NBC, the sitcom depicted an higher center class Black household devoid of the standard stereotypes typically assigned to Black characters in Hollywood.

Cosby portrayed Dr. Heathcliff “Cliff” Huxtable, an obstetrician and patriarch of 5 youngsters. Rashad performed the matriarch, lawyer Clair Huxtable.

Their loving household dynamic — and Cosby’s affable portrayal because the comical and infrequently beleaguered father — discovered him steadily topping polls as America’s favourite TV dad.

He embodied the father or mother that many who grew up within the tumultuous Nineteen Eighties as latchkey youngsters, or these with extra absent fathers than Huxtable, wished that they had.

“The Cosby Show debuted during the Reagan era, when the plagues of crack, AIDS and spiraling homicide were ravaging African-Americans,” author, professor and tradition critic Jelani Cobb informed Ebony Journal in 2015. “[The show was] huge among Black people because it was a counterpoint to the stream of negativity that we heard and saw about ourselves so frequently during those years.”

As beloved as Cosby’s Dr. Huxtable was, Rashad’s Clair was as properly. A deeply loving spouse, she modeled excellence for the Huxtable youngsters (performed by Sabrina Le Beauf, Lisa Bonet, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Tempestt Bledsoe and Keshia Knight Pulliam) and portrayed a powerful, Black feminist in a tv panorama with few.

That picture appeared in stark distinction to some when Rashad tweeted “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!” after the Supreme Courtroom of Pennsylvania vacated Cosby’s conviction on Wednesday.

‘What are you considering’

#ByePhylicia (a reference to the catch phrase “Bye Felicia” made fashionable by the hit 1995 movie “Friday) started trending and one other well-known TV mother even weighed in.

“Phylicia what are you considering!!!,” actress Janet Hubert, who performed the unique Aunt Viv on “The Contemporary Prince of Bel Air,” tweeted. “I do not know you however to say this was terribly improper.”
It was complicated by the fact that Rashad is the newly appointed dean of the reestablished College of Fine Arts at her alma mater, Howard University in Washington, DC.
“I like @PhyliciaRashad however Howard must take away her trigger how secure would you are feeling in case your dean is defending a person who ADMITTED he drugged and raped girls,” Evelyn Atieno, editor-in-chief of Affinity, tweeted.

Rashad sought to clarify her stance amid the backlash, tweeting “I totally help survivors of sexual assault coming ahead.”

“My publish was by no means supposed to be insensitive to their reality,” she wrote.”Personally, I do know from family and friends that such abuse has lifelong residual results. My heartfelt want is for therapeutic.”

Nothing wrong

But not everyone disagreed with Rashad’s support for Cosby.

When Howard University posted a statement on their verified Instagram acount disavowing Rahad’s original tweet — writing that it “lacked sensitivity in the direction of survivors of sexual assault” — several people defended Rashad.

“She spoke Reality!” one person commented.

“Dean Rashad has carried out nothing improper!” another defender wrote.

It’s indicative of the division that has existed since allegations against Cosby first went mainstream in 2014, when a video of comedian Hannibal Buress talking about Cosby went viral.

From the onset, there was utter disbelief within the Black community that a man of Cosby’s stature could have done anything so heinous.

Misinformation was rampant. It was said that Cosby was targeted because he was in the process of buying NBC, when in reality he had explored such a sale in 1992. And, like so many aspects of our culture in recent years, the allegations were politicized. (In 2016, then aspiring presidential candidate Donald Trump had been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, which he denied.)
Therere was also discussion about misogyny after Barbara Bowman, one of Cosby’s accusers, penned an opinion piece for the Washington Post in which she noted “solely after a person … referred to as Invoice Cosby a rapist in a comedy act… did the general public outcry start in earnest.”

Black male celebrities like Cosby are often rallied around when accused of wrongdoing as they become proxies for the many Black men unjustly accused and prosecuted in this country.

“Historical past tells me that black males who’re accused of raping white girls have typically been lynched. Historical past tells me that black males who face the American justice system are disproportionately incarcerated,” Solomon Jones wrote in a piece for WHYY radio in 2018. “Historical past tells me that Cosby — a black man — had little probability of strolling away from the accusations of dozens of largely white girls.

Historical past additionally tells us that whereas the momentum of #MeToo could have helped grease the wheels that led to Cosby’s conviction, the overturning of that conviction has reminded a few of the 1995 trial of OJ Simpson, who was in the end acquitted within the murders of his ex spouse Nicole Brown Simpson and her good friend Ron Goldman.

That’s that wealthy and highly effective Black males could have extra profitable outcomes within the authorized system — a incontrovertible fact that appears much less up for debate than their precise guilt or innocence.

Jobber Wiki writer Frank Lengthy added to this report.