10+ Things to Remember While You Freak Out Over Ebony Magazine's Cover


Yesterday, Ebony magazine released it's November issue, The Family Issue(s), featuring a fractured  image of "The Cosby Show" cast. The cover has been met with mixed emotions with many readers calling the cover "extreme", "in poor taste" and "sad". Cries to boycott the magazine and threats to cancel subscriptions abound. Others (like me) have praised the cover as "fresh", "exciting" and "necessary", and are waiting with breath that is bated for the issue to hit newsstands and mailboxes. (In the meantime, you can read an excerpt of the cover story, "Cliff-Hanger: Can 'The Cosby Show' Survive? Should It?" penned by Goldie Taylor,  HERE.)

Of the controversy, Ebony Editor in Chief Kierna Mayo offered the following comment on her Facebook page:

"Here's what I'll say: this was not an easy decision. But I believe with everything that our collective healing (from this and all traumas) is tied to baring truths, confronting selves, and dismantling crutches. We aim to uplift. However, sometimes before you rise up, you break down. I invite each of you, mixed feelings and all, to truly READ this issue. Listen, @ebonymag has a 70-year-old history and you'd be surprised to know how tame this cover is in many respects--especially when compared with some of what the magazine has addressed in the past. We won't stop being maverick because it makes some uncomfortable. The times are calling. Too much is at stake. Thank you to everyone with an opinion. Informed debate is healthy and we need more of it. We/I have very thick skin, so say what you must. But know this: I love you, Black people. And Ebony does too."

After reading through hundreds of visceral reactions to the new cover yesterday afternoon, I have a few thoughts of my own about what people are saying. In short, a little perspective and logic is needed.

Ahem, see below:

1. Bill Cosby is not your Dad. Neither is Dr. Huxtable.

2. The Huxtables are a fictional family. You are not related to them.

3. A critique of the legacy of a Black TV show is not a personal attack on your family, or even the Black Family at large.

4. The state of the Black family needs to be critiqued.

5. The Cosby Show is not above reproach.

6. Bill Cosby is not above reproach. He made a great TV show; he's been accused by about 50 women of doing some awful things when the cameras weren't on.

7. Bill Cosby is inseparable from The Cosby Show. The fictional Huxtable family is based on Cosby's real-life family. And a show about the Huxtables is called "The Cosby Show".

8. Ebony is not tarnishing Bill Cosby's legacy or The Cosby Show's legacy. Bill Cosby did that all by himself.


9. If you're mad at Ebony for its current cover, please also be equally mad at Bill Cosby.

10. It's not any Black person or Black publication's job to look respectable to White people. We's free now.

11. Black publications and Black people are not obligated to uplift, defend, be loyal to or protect predators because they are Black. Shame, silence and fear are how Cosby got to this point in the first place.

12 "White people don't do X, so Black people shouldn't either" is a piss poor argument (and some coonin sh--). The idea is that "the guy from 7th Heaven" didn't get dragged, so Cosby shouldn't either. But yes, actually, "the guy", Stephen Collins, did. Google him and see for yourself.

13. "Innocent until proven guilty" applies to a criminal court of law. Public opinion is not the judicial system.

14. If you only believe in the justice system when it comes to defending Bill Cosby, stop. OJ went thru the justice system and was found innocent of murdering his wife and her friend. We still think he did it.

15. "Don't judge" and "who are we to judge?" are excuses not to have an opinion. You have a brain, use it. Also, if you say "don't judge" Cosby, but you have an opinion about the cover (or editors), you're judging.

Bill Cosby's Accusers: You Really Think 15 Women Are Lying?

Bill Cosby a rapist?

I need an explanation.

I, probably like you if you've come here to read this, have been following the growing allegations of rape against Bill Cosby. Fifteen women have accused him of  rape-- six publicly-- and networks and content distributors are sprinting to distance themselves from him.

Time and Vulture have compiled comprehensive timelines of the rape allegations against him-- beginning in the 1960s--  and it's as damning as the Village Voice expose on R. Kelly. It's bad. Real bad. Joe Jackson.

Despite the number of women-- FIFTEEN--  who have made allegations over the years, despite the similarity of their stories over decades, there are many who just can't fathom that Cosby has committed these crimes. The go-to argument seems to be, "but why now?" They wonder why, if these women were drugged and raped, why they waited a year, or years, or a decade or longer to come forward.

To which I ask, why not now?

Given Cosby's celebrity and iconic status (before The Cosby Show, he had the distinct honor  of being the first Black man to have a lead role in a primetime series) and wealth and lawyers, and the way the stories of FIFTEEN* women with similar stories are being disbelieved  now, and the way these women are being dragged as groupies or "party girls" (as if girls who "party" can't be raped), I don't get how anyone could not understand why these women would remain silent.

Rodney King got beat ON VIDEO which we all saw and the cops who did it still went free. (The LA riots, remember?) These women-- young women when these crimes occurred-- don't have video. They have stories. About  one of the biggest names in show business, who still, in 2014, facing allegations that he has raped 15 women, is spoken to by journalists with deference and respect and soft-ball questions.

It's a respect not given to Joan Tarshis, one of his accusers, who showed up for a CNN interview and was publicly questioned by anchor Don Lemon as to why  she didn't bite Mr. Cosby's penis in self-defense.  Really? No one asked Lemon why he didn't bite or clench when he said he was molested as a boy.

You can't understand why a woman, why many women would hesitate to put themselves in the position to be a national spectacle and have their entire sexual history dragged across headlines? In the 80s when Cosby was in his professional prime and untarnished by the respectability politics rantings that  garnered him so many side-eyes before all this?  Add to that, we are talking about women were allegedly drugged, then assaulted with fleeting memories of  what occurred and they are confused and hurt and embarrassed and humiliated.

"I didn't go to the police because i was 19 years old," Tarshis explained  in that horrible CNN interview with Lemon. "I was scared and I thought nobody would believe me. I'm a 19 year old girl and he was Mr. America."

I get it. But what I don't get is the people who do mental contortions  to defend Cosby from fifteen accusers. It's beyond basic logic. As Ta-Nehisi Coates summed it up  (so brilliantly) over on The Atlantic:

"A defense of Cosby requires that one believe that several women have decided to publicly accuse one of the most powerful men in recent Hollywood history of a crime they have no hope of seeing prosecuted, and for which they are seeking no damages."

And further:

"The heart of the matter is this: A defender of Bill Cosby must, effectively, conjure a vast conspiracy, created to bring down one man, seemingly just out of spite. And people will do this work of conjuration, because it is hard to accept that people we love in one arena can commit great evil in another. It is hard to believe that Bill Cosby is a serial rapist because the belief doesn't just indict Cosby, it indicts us. It damns us for drawing intimate conclusions about people based on pudding-pop commercials and popular TV shows. It destroys our ability to lean on icons for our morality. And it forces us back into a world where seemingly good men do unspeakably evil things, and this is just the chaos of human history."



*I emphasize the number because it's unfathomable to me that fifteen people could accuse the same man of similar crimes of rape and be disbelieved.  If we were talking abut FIFTEEN people identifying the same person who robbed a bank, it would be a foregone  conclusion, not an ongoing discussion about whether  the accused, did in fact, rob said bank.