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Coz: The Racism Angle No One Talks About

Updated: Mar 12, 2023

Nearly 60 years ago, Bill Cosby put America's Black men in danger. Let's talk about that. Finally.

A white woman's feet sticking  out from under the sheets at the end of a bed
CC0 Photo by Pixabay

Bill Cosby is back in the news, getting sued by five accusers who claim he raped them many years ago.

No new allegants, just five from the sixty-ish who've accused him so far.

New York has passed an Adult Survivors Act giving victims of sexual abuse whose silence has exceeded the statute of limitations a year to file lawsuit.

It remains to be seen whether any of his other accusers will follow (law)suit.


Bill Cosby was 'America's Dad' and a clean, funny role model to millions until he was unmasked as a serial rapist.

Google 'Cosby rape case' and 'racism' eight years after a comedian called attention to the predator in plain sight, and you will still find mostly articles and opinion pieces about the inherent racism of going after one of America's most successful Black men. Cosby himself made 'systemic racism' the perpetrator in his sexual assault trial, and himself the victim. Not the 58 accusers who claimed he slipped them Quaaludes and sexually assaulted them. Not the receipts for the drugs or even his acknowledgment that he regularly gave 'ludes to women, and still claimed what happened later was 'consensual'.

Bill Cosby validated the ugliest racist stereotype about Black men, one that's gotten countless innocent ones tortured, castrated, and strung up in trees: He went after White women.

The compilation photo includes a few better-tanned victims, but it's unquestionable he preferred his extramarital affairs, consensual or not, light-skinned.

Cosby's rapes demonstrate a level of ballsiness otherwise inconceivable in early civil rights America, a man whose wealth and celebrity privilege superseded his victims' White privilege, demonstrating a power over them that also endangered others.

What Black America doesn't talk about

How do you know when a White woman is telling the truth about a Black man raping her?

When she doesn't accuse him until years or decades later.

White America has a long established history of White women lying about sexual advances by a Black man or several. If there's a single case of a lynched Black man actually raping a White woman before the civil rights movement, I can't find it. American history is filled with shameful accounts of trumped-up excuses for inflicting countless horrendous evils on Black people, many of which involve alleged sexual interest or contact with White women by alleged hyper-sexual Black men.

What I fail to find several years later on Google, blogs, articles, or even poorly-written YouTube comments is how much potential danger Bill Cosby put America's Black men in sixty years ago.

The man with a penchant for the fair-skinned couldn't have married a White woman at the time he married Camille Olivia Hanks. America's anti-miscegenation laws blocked that route. Instead, Coz satisfied his desire for forbidden fruit with Quaaludes and his growing celebrity.

The difference between Cosby and generations of 'Strange Fruit' is no likely guilty parties with the latter. A Black man would have to have been bugspit insane to show any sort of interest in a White woman in the '60s. Everyone knew what happened to Black men who 'forgot their place'.

Perhaps the civil rights environment encouraged Cosby to think he could get away with it, and he was right. It amazes me how he found, and I mean this in the most pejorative sense, the courage to do what he did.

We have to remember courage is the resolution and fortitude to do something extremely difficult, at great personal risk to one's self, or certain personal risk as exemplified by the 9/11 hijackers who were all ready to die as horribly as their victims. Bill Maher lost his TV show when he stated in the aftermath, "Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, not cowardly."

We forget courage works both ways, like The Force. It takes as much courage to commit great acts of evil as it does acts of heroism. And I continue to marvel, eight years later, at the size of Cosby's brass balls. In the 1960s.

Bill Cosby put his own life, and Black male Americans', in serious danger when he began drugging and raping White women in 1965 (that we know of). Not only could a Black person not marry a White person back then, but civil rights leaders were getting murdered in the South, Black churches were burning, and four Black girls got murdered by a KKK bombing at a Birmingham church in 1964. Black men were still getting lynched, but it had gone more undercover with the civil rights movement.

Nineteen-sixty-five was also the year Cosby's first TV series debuted. Had it been exposed back then the up-and-coming Black celebrity had raped a White woman or two, I'm not sure Cosby could have crossed the Mason-Dixon line for years. Southern White boys would have looooooved to 'avenge' their women on a real embodiment of their most fevered fantasies.

What if Cosby's earliest accusers had spoken out?

Curiously, none did for the same reasons women today don't accuse their rapists, celebrity or not. America may have a long, ugly, established position of automatically believing White women's claims of Black rape, but when it actually happened, it seems all the White women were afraid they wouldn't be believed. They were told they wouldn't be believed. 'Patriarchy' reigned supreme, even with a Black skin.

America also has a long, ugly, established history of not believing rape victims.

It seems in civil rights America, White women knew they could get away with false rape accusations against Black men, but didn't trust America to believe them when it actually happened.

Especially not a celebrity like young comedian Bill Cosby.

In 1960s America, a Black man was more likely to get lynched for not raping a White woman than raping one.

And a White woman was more likely to be believed only if she lied about the rape.

Why wouldn't White America believe these women? Why would their accusations be any different from the others? Black lynchings were witch hunts; all you needed was an accusation, no evidence required.

A dead Bill Cosby would have become a martyr for the civil rights movement, his name perhaps spoken a few years later in Martin Luther King's 'I Have A Dream' speech. Maybe King would have invoked the image of the promising, funny comedian's body being pulled out of a muddy river, his wrists tied behind his back, his skull crushed, his body a testament to the torture he endured before he died.

And perhaps White (liberal) America would have accepted the martyr, assuming he must be innocent because he got lynched, and you know, White women lie.

But his earliest victims didn't tell. Somehow, Cosby knew they wouldn't. In fact, he was bold enough to make a statement of power to them.

"Their [the other victims'] stories are all the same. Suddenly, I was passed out, and the next thing I know, there he is. It’s almost like he wants you awake. He waits," said Kristina Ruehli, Cosby's alleged earliest victim, from her 1965 encounter with him.

She told her boyfriend at the time, but never considered going to the police. "It was not like I was traumatized," she told People Magazine. "There were no rape kits. He had not violated or penetrated me. No one would have believed me.” [Italics mine]

No, she had just woken up to find him trying to stick his penis into her mouth.

Ruehli didn't tell because she was "...embarassed. How did that happen? I was embarrassed that I had put myself in that position, because the woman always blames herself, right?"

His next known victim was a Playboy bunny named Karla in 1967, now the wife of Lou Ferrigno, a/k/a The Incredible Hulk, before she met her husband. She didn't tell, either.

Later victims claimed they didn't go to the police or tell anyone because guess what, they didn't think they'd be believed, and were told by others they wouldn't be. By then, with an established actor and comedian, they might have been right. Accusing the rich and powerful comes with great personal risk, regardless of skin color. No color matters more in America than the color of one's money. If you have enough green, you can get away with pretty much anything. (Ask O.J. And arguably, Trump.)

How much could America have believed Fat Albert could rape women? The Jell-O pudding fan? Dr. Huxtable? Ghost Dad? America's Dad?

No one, it seems, until some male comedian made a joke and finally, America woke up, rather a lot like Cosby's victims. "Wha---? Whaaahappen?"

Then people began to believe accusations. Once a man bestowed his prima facie accusation at a far more beloved comedian than himself, suddenly, now, finally, the women were believed.

In the early 21st century, Black men don't get lynched anymore for 'messing with White women'.

But women still don't tell, or report, because they don't think they'll be believed.

La plus ça change...

This is a pared-down version of the original, longer article which you can see on Substack. Did you like this post? Would you like to see more? I lean left of center, but not so far over my brains fall out. Subscribe to my Substack newsletter Grow Some Labia so you never miss a post!




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