Writer Kamau Bell proclaimed Black America’s “need to talk about Bill Cosby” in his Showtime documentary that included comedians, educators, journalists, and those who have accused the iconic entertainer of sexual assault. Bell claimed that for the smart, funny, and politically aware at dinner parties, the conversation would have to center on Cosby.
But for many others who declined to indulge in exploration and dissemination of another African American that mainstream media proved human, Bell missed the mark. Badly.
“He may as well have worn Black face, because the documentary is a minstrel show and as much as you may agree that Cosby is a hypocrite, Bell can’t afford to look in the mirror,” said actor Lorenzo Simpkins.
“Bell is as misled and foolish as the knuckleheads who said, ‘Cosby admitted to drugging and raping women,’” Simpkins offered about the civil deposition the entertainer sat for in a lawsuit brought in 2005 by Andrea Constand. During the deposition, Cosby acknowledges that he provided quaaludes to women who would have sex.
Simpkins said that’s not his most significant problem with Bell’s one-sided documentary that didn’t include statements or appearances from anyone on Cosby’s team.
“The biggest problem is that it’s a distraction that Showtime will use to make money and to denigrate a Black man further, and they can say ‘look, it’s another Black man [Bell] doing the denigrating,” he asserted.
Instead, Simpkins and others said Black Americans – men in particular – should most want to discuss the two trials of Cosby and the way they were handled and reported. The prosecutor ran for office with ads that promised: “to get Cosby.”
Juror nullification proved so intense during the first trial that Cosby’s attorneys successfully petitioned to select a panel from across the state in Pittsburgh. One petition juror, a Black woman and a former police officer, was disqualified from serving based on a false charge that she altered timecards while working for the department.
Judge Steven O’Neill stacked the deck against Cosby, even refusing to allow him to call a witness who said the alleged victim had confided that she could set Cosby up.
Despite the defense not putting on a defense, the first trial ended with a hung jury. The second trial began with racial epithets hurled by a prosecutor toward the defense, a juror who proclaimed that Cosby was guilty before the start of the trial, and O’Neill allowed five women to present unproven allegations. The former District Attorney, Bruce Castor, wasn’t allowed to testify about a deal he hammered out with Cosby, and O’Neill allowed the use of Cosby’s infamous civil deposition.
#Metoo and Metoo-inspired signs littered the courthouse.
Bell wants to focus on white media-driven allegations that a group of primarily non-Black individuals made against an African American icon, Simpkins and others demurred.
Dean Tong, a nationally known defense expert in sex crimes cases, said it’s incumbent upon all parties who are potentially adverse to the African American male accused of the unthinkable to be free from confirmation bias.
“I was not at Bill Cosby’s trial, but I was at Michael Jackson’s trial in 2005 in Santa Maria, California, and these allegations foster and exacerbate emotions on steroids which can supersede logic,” Tong demanded. “I’m not saying Cosby was or is innocent, although his conviction was reversed. All Black, white, Hispanic, Asian defendants must receive a fair and impartial trial by a jury of their peers. The Constitution has the last say so.”