US

MSNBC Guest: What If Cosby Supported Black Lives Matter?

Steve Guest Media Reporter

Ebony Magazine’s Jamilah Lemieux wonders how Bill Cosby would be treated if he was a supporter of #BlackLivesMatter, and not a promoter of “respectability politics.” (RELATED: Bill Cosby Charged With Felony ‘Aggravated Indecent Assault’ [VIDEO])

Cosby was charged Wednesday with felony sexual assault.

That evening, on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show,” guest host Melissa Harris-Perry said to Lemieux, “So this one’s hard for me. I mean, I’m a sexual assault survivor, I have long felt like Mr. Cosby needed to be held accountable but I keep wondering if this is a system that can bring that accountability.” (RELATED: MSNBC Host: When Republicans Say The Phrase ‘Hard Worker’ They’re Being Racist [VIDEO])

Lemieux replied, “Yeah, I think your framing is so important, sober and complicated is this moment, right? So 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 seeing any 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 I’m not glad it’s happening, because accountability is important. And that’s for us as close to justice as we’re going to get.”

Lemieux said, “I think there’s so much of us broken for Americans and particularly African-Americans.”

“So we looked up to this man. We wanted to believe the things he said to us, prior to his respectability politics, big reveal,” Lemieux insisted. “You know, 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 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.” (RELATED: Bill Cosby Faces Judge, Set Free On $1 Million Bail [PHOTOS])

Harris-Perry interjected, “I keep thinking to myself, 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. And I don’t mean that one is true or not. We don’t know, but that we were simply more — we didn’t even engage. We didn’t even go into and figure out if it might be true.”

“And 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,” Lemieux wondered. “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 quote, unquote 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 allegations against you,” Lemieux said. “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.”

“And let me just say, not being okay with respectability politics either. There is, that fissure, I don’t mind if it breaks open–respectability politics– and makes us ask whether or not it’s reasonable to behave as though one can earn equality as a citizen,” Harris Perry insisted. “You don’t earn it, it’s the gift of citizenship or so it should be.” (RELATED: Pod Racist! MSNBC Host Freaks Out Over ‘Black Guy’ Star Wars Villain (Darth Vader) [VIDEO])

Prior to the interview with Lemieux, Harris-Perry pondered, “Perhaps what we saw today was the first step towards justice for dozens of alleged victims or maybe it was just another black man walking into a system that so rarely seems to offer justice.” (RELATED: Where To Get ‘The Cosby Show’ — Before It Disappears For Good)

 

Follow Steve on Twitter and Facebook