My Devotion to Blackness Doesn’t Extend to Rapists: Why I’ll Never Defend Bill Cosby

I’m never anti-black. I’m always anti-rapist.


At its core, The Cosby Show was an absolute endorsement of black respectability politics. The two married, professional, successful black parents, the mostly well-behaved children educated at the best schools, and the focus on real “American” values were all a deliberate counter to the poverty-stricken, low-class images of shows like Good Times and Sanford & Son. The show seemed to always be mindful of its responsibility to uphold the ideals of what black people could be if we did everything right.

With Bill Cosby steering the ship, that responsibility for promoting and maintaining black respectability quite naturally shifted to him. He became not only “America’s favorite dad,” but a figure of reverence and irreproachability in the black community, so much so that more than two decades after the show ended its eight-year run, it is virtually impossible for many black people to divorce the character of Heathcliff Huxtable from Bill…

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