Jamilah Lemieux: How Willing Would People Be To Turn Backs on Cosby If He Supported Black Lives Matter?

Ebony magazine Senior Editor Jamilah Lemieux questioned if people would be more willing to turn their backs on Bill Cosby if he “didn’t have that sort of respectability politics” and instead supported the Black Lives Matter movement on Wednesday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show.”

After guest host Melissa Harris-Perry declared, “we were ultimately more interested as a people, not just black folks, as Americans, in preserving this image, this imagined notion of Bill Cosby, than in understanding actual women’s experiences and allegations.” Lemieux said, “I can’t help but to wonder, say if Mr. Cosby didn’t have that sort of respectability politics, you know, heavy-handed against single mothers, and complicated-sounding names and wearing your pants low, and listening to hip hop, say that wasn’t who he was. Say that he was a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, right? Say that he was elected. Say that he was really ‘on our side’ politically. Would we be having this conversation? How willing would people be to turn their backs on him? Or to say, ‘You know, I may love what you stand for here, but I cannot stand in solidarity with you when you have these sort of allegations against you. I have to take them seriously. It’s not about me not liking your personality, it’s about me not being okay with sexual assault.'”

Lemieux also argued, “there’s so much of us broken for Americans and particularly African-Americans, right? And so just as those cracks went across Phylicia Rashad and those child actors, I think they that were felt all across black America, right? So, we looked up to this man. We wanted to believe the things that he said to us, prior to his respectability politics, big reveal, you know, but the things that he wanted to teach us about being a black family, and having class aspirations, and supporting HBCUs, and those in many ways were valuable, important things. But this legacy is one that is incredibly complicated. And frankly, I think it’s impossible to separate fully, some 50 plus allegations of sexual misconduct or sexual assault, from who he is as a philanthropist or an actor.”

Earlier, Lemieux stated, “this isn’t a victory lap. No one’s excited, for those of us who have been covering this story for quite some time, we’re not whooping and saying, ‘Yes, got him.’ There’s no joy to be had from seeing a black man, any black man taking a perp walk, let alone someone who meant so much to us for so long. And yet, this is an important moment, and I can’t say that I’m not glad that it’s happening, because accountability is important, and that’s for us as close to justice as we’re going to get.”

(h/t Mediaite)

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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