Phylicia Rashad backlash

William T. Robinson, Jr.

Noted veteran actress Phylicia Rashad, now dean of the School of Fine Arts at Howard University who played Claire Huxtable on The Cosby Show has come under fire for comments she tweeted in regards to Bill Cosby release from prison. There appears to be unfiltered outrage and righteous indignation from many people especially the black public debunking her statement in which she wrote, “Finally! A terrible wrong is being righted-a miscarriage of justice is corrected.” A major concern is that Rashad’s statement showed no concern for the victims of Cosby’s sexual improprieties- promoting some of Howard University students and alumni to demand her resignation.

But in all fairness, it can be conceived from a different perspective, not condoning Cosby’s actions but in the flaws in the judicial system that adjudicated his incarceration rather right or wrong. We all know especially as African Americans the judicial system is sometimes bent to allow certain outcomes

Is it possible that Rashad wasn’t implying that Bill Cosby was not guilty of the multitude of sexual assault allegations but making note of the miscarriage of justice that allowed him to be imprisoned in the first place?. We should recognize that we are talking about two distinct issues- Cosby guilt and ignoring legalities that would have prevented him from incarceration right or wrong in the first place.

In all honesty, testimony overwhelmingly gravitates toward Cosby being guilty in drugging many women and exercising unwanted sexual improprieties whether he is guilty on all charges or even just one. The suffering of the survivors is insurmountable and they should be given justice. However you cannot overlook acknowledging and seeking to change a flawed system with loopholes and technicalities that impedes true justice.

You have many Cosby supporters who feel that he is not guilty of all charges by his accusers and that many are offering false testimony –getting on the bandwagon – seeking financial compensation. That may be inconsequential because if only one accusation proves true it doesn’t negate that he should not be held accountable and suffer the consequences. The pain, hurt, mental anguish, and dehumanization of one who has been sexual assaulted should not be dismissed or trivialized but we must also be cognizant that some men have been falsely accused of sexual improprieties or assault by vindictive, mendacious women, unfortunately, making it hard for all women to be taken seriously.

One could argue that Phylicia Rashad is being raked over the coals over a tweet that may have been taken out of context- not directed at what she was really trying to convey. Is it possible she was alluding that the law needs to be changed or fairly adhered to so that everyone is treated fairly? Failing to follow the law resulting in one’s incarceration is a gross injustice. It is like discretionally using the flaws or loopholes in our system to subjectively or politically choose and pick who we will find innocent or guilty under the law.

It must also be noted that Rashad originally made no reference to those who may be victims of Bill Cosby’s sexual improprieties because she knows there is no excusing or rationalizing the mental and physical scarring of true victims of sexual assault. Therefore, one can give her the benefit of the doubt her message was on a miscarriage of the law leading to Cosby illegal incarceration – not on whether he was guilty.  But it seems that she was forced to apologize and address sexually abuse by some individuals and groups that could possibly be using her to publicize their agenda.

One can only begin to imagined how loopholes and failure to fully adhere to the law have contributed to many people being improperly incarcerated. While all the anger is on how can the criminal justice system release a person convicted of sexual assault – shouldn’t just as much anger and righteous indignation be directed at addressing and changing the legal loopholes or flaws that bring about many people being illegally incarcerated?

Nothing may change one’s opinion on how they feel about Bill Cosby –whether he is a notorious sexual assaulter or whether he is innocent and being railroaded. A myriad of powerful white men have found ways to silence their accusers or have been adjudicated from being charged with sexual assault or sexual improprieties. Look at our former president, Donald Trump- he has at least 21 allegations of sexual improprieties and assaults, ranging from rape, sexual, harassment, non-consensual kissing and groping, Where is the public outrage and indignation? Let’ use the same paint brush when painting all people.

I am sure Rashad personally values Cosby as a true close friend regardless of the monster some make him out to be regarding his inexcusable actions. And no doubt, Rashad regrets the tweet she made but we all are human and hind sight is twenty-twenty. I am sure you can find some who would like to believe her tweet was taken out of context or misunderstood.

She has contributed much to the Black community and world as a positive role model to be idolized and emulated as the consummate TV mother role model. Her acting skills and credits as well as her support to major charities, foundations, and institutions have gain her noteworthy and commendable respect and kudos that shouldn’t be dismissed- to do so would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Make no mistake, sexual assault is real and there is no excusing or rationalizing it – but is it possible Phylicia Rashad is being used as a pawn by some individuals or groups to further publicize sexual assault victimization?  I’m just giving you something to think about.  

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