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The Bill Cosby Issue: Processing the Fall of an Icon


Stashed in: Bill Cosby, Rape, Rape

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We're all Huxtables.

Rembert Browne: I think that the fact that it’s taken us 48 hours to start emailing each other about this sheds some light on the complicated nature of thinking of Bill Cosby as being accused of being a serial rapist.

It doesn’t make sense, and then when it begins to make sense, you don’t want it to make sense. Because it tramples so much of what you thought you knew. And not just what you thought you knew about Bill Cosby, but what you thought to be undeniably true about good people. It rattles your beliefs about the identifiable qualities of a good man, a good father, a good husband, a good black American archetype.

It’s a lot, Wesley. Which is why I wanted to discuss it, instead of allowing it to continue living inside my own head. Because this is that nasty family secret that everyone knows about but no one ever wants to bring up. And we’re all a part of the family. We’re all Huxtables. And even though it’s very public now, this isn’t new news. Yes, the accusations are Cosby’s dirty secret, but also all of ours. He’s the one who is accused, but we’re not completely off the hook, exempt from fault and shame.

Cliff Huxtable was a great man. But Cliff Huxtable was not Bill Cosby, no matter how hard we all tried to treat the two as one. We all thought Cliff Huxtable was great because we thought he was an extension of Bill Cosby. That’s the great trick of naming the show The Cosby Show, even though there are no Cosbys in it. It provided Bill with the much-needed mask of Cliff.

Cliff Huxtable is great, because Cliff Huxtable is fictional. Bill Cosby is real. A real man who may have done terrible things.

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