Okay. I really wish I had come up with that intro paragraph from the dark crevices of my brain, but I did not. Yes, Jilly from Philly is out here being a rape apologist. Now, as much as I can say that I am shocked by this, it would be a lie. This is not the first time Jill has tweeted something that has made me, as well as plenty of other fans (or former fans – no country for irresponsible public figures over here) do a double take. Back in 2011 Jill took to twitter and wrote, “Just saw a couple on the plane. Somebody tell me why do straight women marry gay men? Break it down.” The tweet ignited a small firestorm of sorts, but quickly died down. It was then that I had to add Jill’s name to the list of celebrities whom I’d give the eternal side eye to due to their social media presence. The thing is we expect some artists to know better. They are marketed as free souls, liberal, educated, masters of words, so we naturally assume that the faults we later find with them are completely nonexistent.
But back to the Cosby tweets. The greatest issue I find with Jill’s opinion (though I have many of them) are the lack of nuance that exist within them. In response to people who challenged her opinion, Jill tweets that she knows Bill and because she knows him she needs proof. This statement is not only simply, but very dangerous. People refuse to believe that Bill Cosby can be guilty of rape because he played a fun, loving dad on television and is a noted philanthropist. This is absurd. How many individuals can each of us name from our personal lives to those who are well-known/mainstream who have done good in their community, but have lived personal lives full of crime, misdeeds and sins?? How many of us can name pastors, community activists, community leaders, respected family members who were known as charming, charismatic and giving men and women to everyone outside, but to those closest to them they were bullies, rapists, child molesters and every other sordid person you can think of. Jill’s comments show that there is a long way to go in our community, as well as in this world as whole in being able to distinguish truly good people, and bad people who are capable of doing good.
We’ve become so blind to the image and brand Bill Cosby has built of himself and his family that we refuse to acknowledge that there can be another side to him that many simply did not know about until now. We must look at him as a man. We must strip the pudding pop commercials, the philanthropy, the Cosby show legacy and look at him as a man – a man who most likely did some very heinous things to women. We do ourselves, our community, and rape victims a grave disservice when we protect the criminals and force the victims to defend themselves.
Valerie Charles is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She blogs at GirlAboutBk.wordpress.com. You can follow her on twitter @Vivaciously_Val