a disservice to the race
Just when it seemed that the red hot embers emanating from the firestorm surrounding sexual misconduct charges against Bill Cosby had begun to cool, another former model and relic from the past joined Janice Dickinson, adding her name to the two dozen or so white women on the ever expanding list of alleged victims.
The striking difference in the latest accuser and the others, is that this victim is black. Yes, former black supermodel Beverly Johnson gave an interview recently where she claimed that she too had been drugged by Bill Cosby. The fact that she has chosen to come out and jump on the Cosby bashing bandwagon after almost thirty years, follows a certain predictable pattern. In order to give the incredulous allegations more credibility than currently exists under the existing list of questionable characters, perhaps there needed to be a black woman. Not just any black woman, but a black woman of past fame and notoriety. One who was articulate, still glamorous, and could make the case against Cosby, while maintaining perfect poise, carriage and beauty. Enter Beverly Johnson.
That Beverly Johnson would be resurrected from the storage bins of antiquity, and be placed front and center in the mainstream media character assassination against Cosby is not surprising. There is an organized and relentless campaign afoot, to do irreparable damage to the image of the black male. This has been demonstrated repeatedly in recent months, as the news media has engaged in wallpapering the stories of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson on a seemingly continuous loop. But Cosby is the big prize, the target among targets, because he for so long has epitomized the anti-stereotype of black manhood. He was educated, smart, intelligent, articulate and supremely talented with leading man good looks. He was the antithesis of the grinning, shuffling head scratching Negro, type cast in early film and television. Cosby stood then as he does now, erect, proud and unbowed. Consequently, one would think that he’d be the last person on earth needing to drug women in order to seduce them.
All these facts notwithstanding, here we are bearing witness to a virtual peanut gallery of aged white female accusers coming out of the wood work with similar stories of drinks, drugs, and sexual contact that was not consensual. The real reasons for these women’s decades of silence, and the true motivation for their dramatic and unified public disclosure is a question that’s open to conjecture. Who knows what really happened? Only Cosby and the alleged victims know for sure because in each case, there were no witnesses. As with most stories however, there are always two sides, with the truth usually falling somewhere in the middle.
So for me the question is not really whether Beverly Johnson’s account is true, I’ll leave that to the courts of public opinion, which have already reached a verdict, rendered by an all-white jury. The million dollar question is why after all of these years of not sharing this information with anyone else, Beverly Johnson—a black woman—would choose to add her name to the growing list of white Cosby accusers which stands at 23 and counting. What did she hope to gain, and at what cost to the tattered and tarnished image of the African American male? Was it a desperate publicity stunt, an attempt to gain relevance after decades of professional anonymity, or was it some other more sinister reason known only to Johnson and those who back her? Whatever the high cost to the black male image, and the centuries of trying to overcome racial and sexual stereotypes, Johnson claimed to be moved by a higher and nobler calling, i.e., “doing the right thing for women.” If Johnson’s motive was truly to bring attention to the issue of sexual violence against women, hadn’t the case already been made by the other two dozen or so women who had previously come forth? Did we really need one more? Is the temporary relevance of 15 minutes of fame and media attention, worth the decimation of the image and public perception of an entire race? I guess Johnson believed it was.
If so, how sad and how short sighted. Johnson said in her NBC interview that “it’s not about Cosby.” On this we can agree. It’s about a full frontal assault by white America on the black male image. How unfortunate that Beverly Johnson, a black woman, found it necessary to participate.
Gerald Torrence is a lawyer, educator, writer, social and political activist, and motivational speaker living in Atlanta. You can find more insightful opinions from TheTruthTeller at the-truth-teller.com. You can follow Gerald on Twitter @tttspokentruth.