Cosby Commentary Doesn't Reflect the Complexity of the Human Experience
It’s probably just the crowds that I run with but I don’t know too many people that don’t have an opinion on the criminal allegations of sexual assault against Bill Cosby. I can fit nearly all of these people into two crowds. The first crowd are folks that lean towards believing that there is merit to the charges. They believe that where there is smoke, there is fire and that over twenty alleged victims certainly constitutes some smoke. The other crowd consists of folks who think that Cosby is the result of an overreaching media and criminal justice system. They attribute this overreaching to racism, a hungry news cycle, or shady corporate wrangling but they all nonetheless see Cosby as a target. Nearly all of them think Cosby’s race is a factor though.
There is a third option that is possible and perhaps even likely. That is, both crowds are wrong or rather both crowds are right. It is certainly possible that there is some truth to the allegations against Cosby AND that Cosby is a victim of questionable coverage. My life experiences have led me to a place where I wholeheartedly believe that America has yet to overcome its history of treating African-Americans as second-class citizens. We often see vestiges of this history in the way that the media and criminal justice system treat African-American men. Those same life experiences have led me to a place where I also believe that there are violent men of all races that deserve a rebuke of their behaviors, to include African-American men. I see no conflict between these two realities. The fact is that there are many men that have both perpetrated violence and interacted with a prejudiced media and criminal justice system in the aftermath of this violence.
Unfortunately, we don’t teach this nuance to boys. So many of the boys that I talk to have a hard time handling these two realities that they are taught to see as conflicting. We need to do a better job of equipping them with more complex perspectives because the human experience is complex.