Dear Mr. Cosby,
You have no idea how difficult this is to write. I’m one of your biggest fans, and have been for most of my life. I grew up with you. You were a household icon. I watched Fat Albert on the weekends, the Cosby Show as a teenager, your stand-up comedy routines, applauded your remarks on education and how our youth needed to pull up their pants, speak proper English, and quit blaming everyone else for their shortcomings and joblessness. When you spoke, I, among others, listened.
Now, I don’t know what to listen to. I don’t know if you truly did what’s being said, not having been there myself. Add to that the fact that we’re talking about years ago, so any physical evidence would be long gone anyway. But I am a smoke=fire person. I can’t help it. It seems logical to me, and in this instance it breaks my heart. I have a hard time believing that any man who has spent decades with a woman he claims to love, who has fathered children with that woman, four of whom are girls, would be able to commit such reprehensible acts. And yet.
You have four daughters who live in your home. You have millions of other daughters out in the world, girls who grew into women while watching you and seeing you as a secondary dad. We took home life lessons from you just like we did our own dads. We hung on your words and took them to heart. And though this situation doesn’t make your previous words less true, it does taint them. How can it not?
With apologies to Michael Jackson’s fans, I never believed that he didn’t do it. Sorry, folks, I think he did. Again, smoke = fire. The amount of smoke tells me whether or not someone set fire to a piece of paper in an ashtray, or burned down several thousand acres. I was excused from a jury because of that thought process. As a woman and the mother of two little girls, there was no way that I could look at a man being accused by several different, unrelated women and be fair on a jury.
There are far more than merely “several” women accusing you. You, the voice of sanity and reason in the Black community. You, the father of four women. You, the iconic, legendary TV dad. You.
I am trying so hard to believe that you would never. And yet. How many women have come forward to accuse you now? The last I heard was twenty, from different races, different states, different walks of life, different careers, yet similar stories. How can I ignore this? How can I, with my smoke and fire mentality, believe that you didn’t do it? Rape?
There, I said it.
This is a word that, by definition, strikes terror into every woman’s heart…including your daughters. It’s a word we are all subject to, as women, and pray to never fall victim of. It’s a word that has been used on too many of us. How can any man who is a son, brother, cousin, father, grandfather to a woman subject another to that fate. But you? You??
I don’t want to believe it. I really don’t. It tarnishes so many childhood memories. I believed in you. I trusted you. My parents used you as a role model for my brother and me because they trusted and believed in you: “Here is a Black man, on television, the very epitome of wholesome. He doesn’t swear. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t do drugs. He’s been married to the same woman for years. He’s raised five children. He portrays only upper-middle class Black characters in his work.” Of course you were lauded. We had so few role models of color to look up to when we were children in the 70s.
And now this. I hope the truth comes out, good, bad, or indifferent. I hope the truth isn’t what I’m hearing. I hope I can hang on to that childish trust and belief I had once upon a time. I hope you are worthy of that.