Thursday, October 27, 2016
Say Something, Bill!
The accusations of Donald Trump's inappropriate contact with women, stemming from his recent revealed history of sexual "locker-room" repartee, had been mounting for some time now. He has still managed to continue his presidential campaign by insisting his innocence...or rather his innocuity. He has evaded any attempt by anyone - Republican, Democrat, etc. - to brand him as a misogynistic, borderline pedophilic, arguably incestual demagogue. He has even - in true-to-form, Trumpian fashion - played the "I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I" card by suggesting that former President Bill Clinton, who undoubtedly has had his own perils with the opposite sex prior to and during his White House terms, has disrespected women far worse than he hasn't and should be classified as a degenerate abuser.
So as I sit and watch this cavalcade of women open up after toting upwards of 30 years of emotional baggage due to The Donald's alleged creepin', there is this nagging thought in my mind. This thought is an appeal for one man who was once an undeniably powerful, magnetic, exemplary icon to show his face and re-emerge into the limelight. My words are simply this:
Say something, Bill!
Not Clinton, but Cosby.
There are many people who have already formed their impressions and conclusions about this current incarnation of Dr. William H. Cosby, Jr. There was a time when people couldn't wait for him to do something in the entertainment world...despite the fact that not everything he touched turned to gold (see Leonard Part 6...matter of fact, don't see it). To his credit, he has had more hits than misses. While growing up, Bill was someone that I admired, in part due to his ability to "crossover" without forgetting where he came from. When it seemed that he was blending in too much with non-Blacks (read: Caucasians), he was a singular force of a philanthropist for HBCUs. Although he was the first African-American to land a starring role in a popular prime-time show (I Spy), he helped raise a generation of Black kids (including myself) in the long-running, much-beloved cartoon, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, and became an equally-beloved Blaxploitation star (Let's Do It Again, Uptown Saturday Night, A Piece of the Action). When it seemed that he was not doing enough to help address race relations and assist in showing African-American images in the media...The Cosby Show and A Different World laid a mushroom cloud in the social consciousness of all Americans.
Now he has become persona non grata at a time when the issues of sexual assault and rape culture are getting more publicity than they ever have, and for good reason. But in this election cycle, Bill has been posterized by Trump, who may have more to lose if the court of public opinion ever could scrape Teflon Don hard enough. How, you may ask, has Cos been posterized? This is what it has come to...
So one powerful entertainment mogul, who has allegedly done some heinous things to women and girls for decades, is now being "trumped" (pun intended) by an even more powerful entertainment (as well as real estate and financial) mogul who has allegedly done some heinous things to women and girls for decades. The former is Black; the latter is White. The former has been tried and convicted by the societal jury; the latter has yet to be pinned down.
Is there a double standard here?
I for one am not going to delve into whether I believe Mr. Cosby is innocent or guilty. He is probably still involved in the judicial system as I write. And seeing him acquitted or convicted will likely leave me a whit more ambivalent or indifferent than I already am. Having said that, there is something I would like to see, if nothing else. I might consider it a last hurrah since Bill is up in age and has reportedly lost his eyesight.
I'd like to see Angry Bill one last time.
You know Angry Bill. The Bill we saw in the mid-2000s when he snapped and went off on the African-American community for failing to do better at being the African-American community. The infamous "Pound Cake" speech was an unexpected, probably unintended tour de force. Along with its companion manifesto, Come On People, he took to task anyone Black who is not pulling their weight. What he said was harsh, blunt, raw, and void of nuance. And the majority of it was laced with undisputed truth.
Here is an excerpt:
50 percent drop out rate, I’m telling you, and people in jail, and women having children by five, six different men. Under what excuse, I want somebody to love me, and as soon as you have it, you forget to parent. Grandmother, mother, and great grandmother in the same room, raising children, and the child knows nothing about love or respect of any one of the three of them. All this child knows is “gimme, gimme, gimme.” These people want to buy the friendship of a child….and the child couldn’t care less. Those of us sitting out here who have gone on to some college or whatever we’ve done, we still fear our parents. And these people are not parenting. They’re buying things for the kid. $500 sneakers, for what? They won’t buy or spend $250 on Hooked on Phonics.
For those of us who are visually inclined...here is a video excerpt.
After this speech, he had many critics...even those in the Black community. He was taken to task by the media, even Black media (see Dyson, Michael Eric). Yet there were many who felt that a lot of it needed to be said. I mean, even Cornel West had his back.
This is the Bill Cosby who was willing and bold enough to say what he felt needed to be said at a time when it needed to be heard. And right now, Bill can say a lot to keep himself from being marginalized by the fallout from his apparent publicized sins.
Call out Donald Trump on the allegations against him.
If Trump is going to go as far as to use Bill for his specious political gain, then Bill should be in prime position to call Donald on the carpet on his alleged mistreatment of women. Of course, this presupposes a lot. It presupposes that Bill is actually angry enough at Donald for dropping his name as a machination of his campaign deflections. I believe he should be angry at that. It presupposes that Bill is disgusted by the fact that Trump gets THIS CLOSE to being elected the POTUS, while Bill languishes in a humiliating obscurity of his own making and lacking the venerable comedic status of his long-time friend, Dick Gregory. I believe he ought to be angry about that. It presupposes that Bill is beside himself in anger that his surname is being turned into a proverb yet not have any skin in the game in seeing the Black community (specifically Black women) showing in polls as high as 95% of them voting against Trump.
Of course this would mean that he might need to sacrifice his pride and innocence/guilt in order to help balance out the inequity of how he is viewed in juxtaposition to Trump. Or even Clinton. It might mean that he may need to tell what he knows about those reported extramarital encounters that Camille could already be privy to. But Angry Bill would blast through all that, despite the idea that, last time he went ballistic, it opened the door for all his recent legal and moral troubles. But in the words of Trump himself, "What do you have to lose?" For Bill, he has already lost more than he planned or anticipated. So going for broke now to save what is left of his erstwhile clout-carrying name would functionally be par for the course. To err is human, to forgive is an American cornerstone.
Donald might likely get his comeuppance on November 8, much to the chagrin of the "alt-right" and those clamoring for a return to "great" America...whatever that means. And a large segment of the American population may breathe slightly better knowing that he will not have access to the nuclear launch code. But Cosby going napalm on the Republican nominee would truly make for great theater.
I would rather see him speak his mind and darn the torpedoes than allow Trump, of all people, to play him like chocolate Jell-O pudding left out overnight.