Many of the contemporary comedians share a noticeable similarity—they reference Bill Cosby’s rape allegations. Placing a serious matter in a comedy skit is a typical, yet self-deprecating for any black man to make light of how the Western world treats bodies much like his own.
Nevertheless, comedian Dave Chapelle authored a thoughtful routine that birthed the mantra, “he rapes but he saves.” While both well-written and well executed, Chapelle acquiesces to the labeling America handed to one of its most esteemed father figures, by stating “He rapes…”
To articulate that bill Cosby is a rapist, that Michael Jackson is a child molester, that OJ did it, is to take the stance required of blacks to appease whites. Thus, while Chapelle’s comedic monologue functions to humanize Cosby, this takes place after he says the magic words to appease the white signature on his check.
Black sexuality remains at the forefront of American culture as a means to validate black cyclical disenfranchisement. If sexually violent, it becomes suitable for blacks to be impoverished and excluded from an equitable life. For black women, black male hyper sexuality in a contemporary setting functions to illustrate to black women that their own men are monsters to which they must combat with feminism. Furthermore, the hyper sexual black man functions to not only justify the fatal consequences that follow, but to deter black unity by weakening our collective consciousness.
Cosby becomes one of the many black men once portrayed as remarkable but sullied by sexual allegations that intractably stains his legacy. In my lifetime, I’ve witnessed Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Kobe Bryant and Nate Parker hang from a figurative tree, mirroring the hyper sexual fates of their ancestors.
Dr. Angela Davis tackles what she references as “the myth of the black rapist” in an essay of the same name. In this essay, Davis references Frederick Douglass’ analysis of the previously enslaved black male psyche as opposed to his master.
Frederick Douglass argues that the leveling of the rape charge against black men a a whole was not credible for the simple reasons that it implied a radical and instantaneous change in the mental and moral character of Black people (Davis 189.)
The black male body has never demonstrated the immense cruelty as their white counterparts, thus the black male as a sexual predator is mythological simply because it is incompatible to their historical trajectory. Furthermore, the black man as an innate rapist is unlikely because as Frederick Douglass outlined—the moral compass suggested would have to have manifested in a time period too short.
So contemporary comedic acts like Chapelle, Carmichael, and The Lucas brothers who reference Cosby in their comedic skits, implement a fatal humor that aims for white acceptance through a shared laugh. This shared laugh implemented by comedians does not occur solely on the stage, it happens in the workplace or any other setting where the black body seeks to make him or her self approachable or marketable to whites by placing their cards on the table. By making these statements or “jokes” whites need not question or wonder what a member of the black collective thinks, as their self-deprecating humor conveys the necessary inferiority to exist in a white space.
These jokes also function to illustrate acts implemented to control what blacks believe as successful. The media has never properly engaged or featured our truth. Thus, the black collective should regard any news reported from our oppressors as strategy implemented to foment white supremacy. To be well acquainted with white media, over time incites the black mind to believe that they are the consistent bearers of all things bad. From our neighborhoods to our parenting, the news portrays blacks as lazy, filthy, uneducated and barbaric. These images are of course untrue, but reflect how the black collective looks to their oppressors. A key component of oppression is the ability to use the mind as the gateway to the body. By circulating stories to cast these black men as heroes upon an illusive mountain only to one day dangle their once revered bodies off this very mountain to repent their fictive sins, is a strategic act of white oppressors to paint the black body as innately evil. To believe any of the information pumped into black minds by whites, is to experience a mental rape that prompts the black collective to condemn their own. Condemning your own is often passed as believing a common truth, a dynamic implemented by many within the black collective as an act of survival, whereas in reality it is an act of cowardice.
This is not to discount that there are some deviants, but as Davis states: “…the number of actual rapes which occurred was minutely disproportionate to the allegations implied by the myth” (Davis 188). Thus, the rape itself was and is merely an excuse for white cruelty. Davis writes:
Although the cry of rape was invoked as the popular justification for lynching in general, most lynchings took place for other reasons (Davis 189).
If white men were able to justify mistreatment of black bodies as honoring white women, their actions could take place without question. Because as Davis inquires:
“Who would defend a rapist?”
Well, anyone who condemns Cosby, Jackson, Bryant or any other black man accused of sexually violating white women (or in Jackson’s case children), is in fact defending a rapist by buying into a poorly veiled act of deflection by America’s initial and most consistent rapist–the white white male.
I do not believe Cosby, Jackson, Bryant or Parker are guilty of the proposed allegations, because to believe these allegations is to believe that my father, brothers, cousins, uncles and grandfathers and every black man that I’ve encountered is a monster. To believe this, suggests a fatal misunderstanding of who the real monster is.
In believing the myths of our oppressor, we allow ourselves to exist under the false pretense that action of the black male body can surpass four hundred years of sheer evil on the part of the white man (and woman).
The black collective must make the unified decision to not validate criminal claims cast onto our community. We must question any allegation that accompanies any member of our community. We must distrust the media that habitually features black bodies in an unflattering light to encompass the necessary binary opposite to a fictive white greatness.
In closing, the black body as a criminal is a functioning paradox, because the black body bears the greatest crime in the history of civilization. The black collective is not the criminal, we are the evidence of a crime.
And to those who scoff at my assertions, allow me to point out that I am African with a white man’s last name writing this combative piece in ENGLISH.
So… who’s the rapist?
Cosby, Parker, Jackson and every other descendant of abducted Africans mirror this very tragedy and thus illustrate that the black body is systemically raped in traditional and contemporary settings, although portrayed otherwise.