Dr. Cosby Disappoints African-Americans By Apparent Preference For White Women
Using Substances To Seduce Women Is Nothing New; An African-American Icon Dissing Sisters Is
By GUEST COLUMNIST, PROFESSOR MOHAMMED H. DOKES
Published November 20, 2014
The slow trickle of rumors and innuendo about Dr. William Henry “Bill” Cosby, Jr. have reached a rushing torrent. America seems to have made up its mind: our favorite and most admired African-American comedian has been knocked from his perch.
Let's take a step back amidst all the noise. The “Cos” has been an African-American leader for decades. Recently, he upset many African-Americans by criticizing African-American style and use of slang. Personally, I do not pass judgment on the rumors of his drugging and sharing his seed with aspiring actresses. What has caught my attention – and the attention of many of my African-American colleagues – is that Cosby only seems to have pursued white women. Should he be condemned for this apparent covert racism?
In terms of the charges of misconduct, let’s be honest with ourselves. Every night millions of men ply women with a drug called “alcohol” in order to achieve intimacy. What Cosby is alleged to have done is no different. Rather than alcohol, Cosby used drugs that seem to have been safe and with no lasting side effects. Maybe Cosby even helped some of these women with their careers after their encounters ended. Importantly, no permanent injuries have been alleged or reported.
What is so painful for African-Americans, however, is that Cosby eschews women of color. The black man favoring white women over his own soul sisters has been a stereotype that has haunted us for centuries. Are only white women worth seducing? What is the matter with brown skin? When Cosby was getting his start in Greenwich Village clubs 40 years ago, James Brown taught black people to love themselves with the hit song “I’m Black and I’m Proud.” Was Cosby unaffected?
As black people, we should try to give Cosby the benefit of the doubt. Taking a positive view, perhaps Cosby has been attempting to gain a sort of psychological payback for white subjugation of African-Americans. Cosby’s impressive collection of African-American art on display at The Smithsonian is consistent with a race-positive view of these encounters. Cosby loves his people by all outward signs.
[A] successful black man deserves to savor the fruit of the daughters of his oppressors.”
The famous African-American French poet René Maran wrote on the element of revenge inherent in the black man’s conquest of white women: “The majority of [blacks]... tend to marry in Europe not so much out of love as for the satisfaction of being the master of a European woman; and a certain tang of proud revenge enters into this.” Also, Grier and Cobbs who studied black rage after the 1960s riots noted that “the sexual act itself carries aggressive overtones... in possessing the white woman [the black man] sees himself as degrading her (a function of his own feelings of degradation).”
So perhaps we can view Cosby as a modern day “Native Son” from the Richard Wright novel. It must be remembered that Cosby is a former shoe-shiner. Under Cosby’s confident and genial exterior may be lurking a hurt black man searching for acceptance after stooping over and shining so many pairs of shoes for well-heeled white clientele.
Yes, it should bother us that Cosby’s partners all seem to be white. The best we can do is place this circumstance in the proper context. Cosby is still the lovable, jovial figure we know from television. Underneath this persona, though, there may exist a racial equalizer who believes that black women are beautiful but a successful black man deserves to savor the fruit of the daughters of his oppressors.
Prof. Dokes is a senior professor of African-American Studies at Santa Marino College.