#RIP Doctor Huxtable

I have been mostly trying to stay out of it as my community clashes over the Bill Cosby rape allegations charges  convictions.  

On one side you have people defending him. They question the character of his accusers, and the motives of the lawyers against him.   All of a sudden, every body's an expert on statutes of limitations, burden of proof, and what constitutes consent. 

On the other side stand the social justice warriors, advocates of women's right to safety.  Cosby is a monster, they say. Anyone who questions the accusers is a champion of rape, and should be strung up alongside Cosby.

Social media allows us to arm our compatriots with the right words to make our case: Rape culture. Privilege. Quaalude. 

Tweets, retweets, subtweets, replies, updates, and memes keep it in front of our faces.

On both sides, language is harsh and pitiless. 

Honestly, I never felt like the accusers were lying, exactly. I just didn't want to think of any role model as being capable of what he's accused of. It's a familiar disappointment.


I saw the church I attended for a decade ripped apart by some kind of sexual allegation against the pastor, a married man and father of an adopted daughter.  I don't know if the accusations were accurate, or even what they were. I didn't want to hear it.  I was in denial.

I left that church after my dad died. I haven't spoken to my that pastor in about ten years. It's not anything against him. I just don't want to dredge up that disappointment. My faith in this man, who I considered to be of the highest moral character, who I would have taken a bullet for, was destroyed. In some ways, my own innocence died in my wrestling to deal with the seemingly brand new and brutally harsh reality I was presented with.

We are seeing this dynamic play out on a large scale right now. I avoided looking at it. I relegated the acts to the remote past.  When Cosby was on television every day, attitudes were different, I'd say to myself. Who am I to judge him for things that (right or wrong) our society considered... acceptable at the time?

But then, I saw that the most recent allegation was in 2005. And that in a deposition or something, Cosby essentially admitted to actions that could only realistically be described as rape. 

I watched more salvos going back and forth on social media.  That same feelings of defensiveness, denial, and violation of trust rose up. Why? I never met this dude. Never shook his hand.  Never even saw him at a live show from a thousand feet away. What is it to me if he's a rapist?

It's not him.

It's Doctor Huxtable. All the characters he created.  The values of The Cosby Show, and A Different World, and Fat Albert, and fucking Ghost Dad. My generation grew up on this dude's spirit. He was a source of pride and inspiration for us. For some many of us, Doctor Huxtable was our most enduring image of exceptional Black Fatherhood.  As Cosby aged and wagged his finger at my sagging pants and weird name, I closed my eyes and ears and smiled back at Doctor Huxtable. He was just being a dad. He still loved me, even if he was being lame about it.

And now, he's dead. Doctor Huxtable, that is. RIP.

As for Bill Cosby...  He's still a wealthy, charismatic old dude with the best lawyers money can buy. He may well beat the case. For me, the damage is done.  Cosby's actions, long hidden from me by a system that punishes those who stand up to rich and/or powerful men, have reached a critical mass and  killed my beloved Doctor Huxtable. It's tragic, but it's nothing compared to the violation of rape.

My heart always goes out to survivors of sexual violence, including those Cosby has injured.  I'm not sure if I will  have to throw away Cosby's body of work going forward, or if Doctor Huxtable will return to be my ghost dad on some Obi-Wan Kenobi shit, but I hope when the smoke clears from all this, our culture will have seen the end of its silent tolerance of sexual violence.  If that turns out to be the case, at least Doctor Huxtable will not have died in vain.
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Jamila Mendez said...

So perfectly penned.

samax amen said...

Thanks. It was not easy to share, but I have been struggling through my feelings on the subject for a while. It has been a brutal few months on social media. So sarcastic and lacking empathy.

I hope it helps.

Anonymous said...

Very well said. This expresses my exact feeling too. I have DVD's of his 80's show and His book, Fatherhood. When the truth came to light I struggled with whether or not to toss them out. I still have them. I will keep them, show them to my kids because the other actors work deserves to be acknowledged. I keep them also to show how great work can be tainted by poor personal choices. Maybe if he apologizes and makes an effort to help the women, maybe he will be forgiven on some level. Surprisingly Michael Jackson was forgiven and is idolized. Maybe because the victims were young boys who's parents were well paid off. That's a whole 'nother conversation.

samax amen said...

Right. I would not throw stuff away.

Also, while I agree that MJ was clearly on Some other shit mentally, I am not sure I was convinced of his guilt. Maybe it's the glamour of his talent binding me.

samax amen said...

Right. I would not throw stuff away.

Also, while I agree that MJ was clearly on Some other shit mentally, I am not sure I was convinced of his guilt. Maybe it's the glamour of his talent binding me.

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