In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Jewel Allison, one of the many women who have come forward with sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby, said she waited nearly two decades to come forward with her accusations because she “didn’t want to let black America down.”
In November, Allison outlined her alleged abuse by Cosby in an interview with the New York Daily News. Allison told the paper that at a dinner at the comedian’s home in the late ’80’s, Cosby gave her a glass of wine that was possibly drugged, before taking her hand and forcing her to fondle him.
“That was my sexual assault by this comedian,” Allison told the Daily News at the time. “He turned me around and said, ‘Let’s get you home.’ At the door, he gave me a very hard embrace and a hard kiss.”
In explaining why she failed come forward with her allegations, Allison wrote in the Post that “as an African-American woman, I felt the stakes for me were even higher.”
“When I first heard Andrea Constand and Tamara Green publicly tell their stories about being drugged and assaulted by Cosby, I wasn’t relieved; I was terrified. I knew these women weren’t fabricating stories and conspiring to destroy America’s favorite dad, but I did not want to see yet another African American man vilified in the media. As I debated whether to come forward, I struggled with where my allegiances should lie – with the women who were sexually victimized or with black America, which had been systemically victimized. I called several friends for advice. While some encouraged me to speak out, others were cautious – even angry.”
Allison describes how a black friend tried to talk her out coming forward: “You will be eaten alive,” the man said, “and for what? The black community is not going to support you.”
Adding to Allison’s reluctance to come forward, she wrote, was a strong connection to Cosby’s TV family, the Huxtables, and what she felt they represented to black Americans. Allison wrote that after “Reaganomics, AIDS, and the crack epidemic” ravaged African-American communities in the ’80’s, “the well-educated, well-spoken, and well-heeled Huxtables seemed to promise that, despite the decaying conditions for black folks, everything was going to be alright.”
“But as I vomited in the backseat of the taxi that Cosby ushered me into after he assaulted me one night in the late 1980s, that Dr. Huxtable image no longer made sense. I felt both physically violated and emotionally bamboozled. Still, I didn’t want the image of Dr. Huxtable reduced to that of a criminal. For so many of the African American men I knew, William H. Cosby, Ed.D, provided a much-needed wholesome image of success, and the character he made famous was their model for self-worth and manhood. I knew that, in my reluctance to add my assault to the allegations facing Cosby, I was allowing race to trump rape.”
Eventually, Allison wrote, it was the backlash that other Cosby accusers faced in the media that precipitated her choice to come forward. While at times she said she felt that she “betrayed black America,” Allison wrote that ultimately, Bill Cosby is just one man and not representative of the entirety of African-American culture.
“Bill Cosby did not lead the march on Washington, and the Cosby Show didn’t end racism,” Allison concludes. “The only legacy at stake is of one entertainer, not of black manhood, as I once feared.”
Read the entirety of Allison’s op-ed here.