Today, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who will admit they celebrated for and/or defended O.J., but even more tragic than that, you will find even less people who know anything about Geronimo Ji Jaga, Mumia Abu Jamal, Sundiata Acoli, Jamil Abdullah Al Amin, or any of the African political prisoners who have spent decades in prison because of their principled work fighting to liberate African people from oppression. Kwame Ture talked often about how sad it is that we African people "are so disorganized and ignorant that we leave our soldiers on the battle field!" Our thinking is that our soldiers aren't the people who enlist in the imperialist U.S. military (they aren't fighting for us). Our soldiers are those people like Geronimo, Mumia, and Sundiata. And, we have shamefully left them on the battle field. A few months ago, I went to see one of those honored soldiers. Sekou Odinga was a political prisoner for 33 years. Recently, he was released. I've read and followed Sekou's case, along with the others, for decades so I didn't hesitate at the opportunity to go meet and talk to him. It was difficult for me to sit and listen as this brave warrior talked about how state terrorists pulled his fingernails out and tortured him relentlessly because of their hatred of his integrity for standing up against them, for us.
That's why I'm so disgusted that we continue to ignore our true freedom fighters who deserve our love, respect, and support, but just like with O.J., we are quick to jump up and defend an absolute loser like Bill Cosby. Then, to add insult to injury, some of our most misguided elements have the audacity to even equate what's happening with Cosby to our collective oppression as African people. There are several absolutely disgraceful aspects to this. First, besides the fact Bill Cosby has been an ally to white supremacy for decades, he is the person who recently remarked that the reasons behind mass incarceration are we name our children cultural names that cause us to deviate from a path of legitimacy. He has a history of making these types of new age uncle tom remarks. I saw him speak in person back in 1984 here in Sacramento. This was I believe at the height of the Cosby show's popularity. He spoke during Black Culture Day at the state fair. I recall that a woman made a comment about how important it was for us to have positive role models on television and this fool cut her off exclaiming assertively that his show wasn't an African (American) show, it was an American show and that the problem we have as a people is we are so unwilling to just accept the fact that we are Americans which prohibits us from being able to properly integrate into this "wonderful society" the way other people have.
At that point, my experience with Cosby was primarily his movies with Sidney Poitier in the 70s which were important cultural components in my life growing up, but after that day at the fair, I lost all respect for Cosby, his show, and anything he was doing. Over the years, I've followed his ignorant anti-African statements and his efforts to buy a Major League baseball team, etc. And, now we come to this conviction against him. Its sick how we can take the most basic and low quality human being and wrap them up in imaginary principles because of our need to acknowledge the trauma we feel from the oppression we experience everyday. Its also sick how someone like Cosby, who has consistently denied our oppression as a people, immediately gets a pass as being victimized by systemic racism. And, its absolutely gruesome how because of these dysfunctions, so many of us, particularly our men, can so quickly and effortlessly throw away the assertions by so many women - African women, European women, regardless. And we can do this without offering even a semblance of a case to support Cosby. The only thing people are able to say in his behalf is that he tried to buy a baseball team? That a small percentage of the many women accusing him haven't polished their stories to a level of our acceptance (a level that will never be achieved)? That he's being convicted when European predators aren't? That we should have sympathy for him because he lost two children?
I try to live my life based on principle. For me, that means doing what's right. That means recognizing and acknowledging the systems of oppression that dominate this society. It means understanding how patriarchy works and how men are socialized not to believe women and that women are commodities who can be assaulted raped, etc., and the burden of proof is going to be on them to prove they weren't. What all that boils down to for me is we cannot expect justice for us when we are unwilling to consider granting it to anyone else.
Last, but certainly not least, one of the most heinous elements of this reaction is that we cape for a loser like Cosby while ignoring and remaining ignorant about all those legitimate freedom fighters who languish in prison today. You directly benefit from their sacrifices whether you know it or not. Their bold stand against injustice has reshaped much of the institutional structure in this country in ways that opened many doors for you to walk through. Educational doors. Employment doors, etc. You owe them, yet you don't even have the integrity to find out who they are. Meanwhile, Bill Cosby hasn't done anything for you because his opportunities resulted from the same movement that yours did. Its no accident that his ability to land the first full-time role for an African in a drama series (1965's "I Spy" with Robert Culp) came about during the height of the civil rights movement. Instead of honoring that movement, he has repeatedly spit on it by denouncing the people it represents. And, with his shameful comments on why we go to prison, he has poured acid on the sacrifices of our brave soldiers who are not in prison because of the ignorant reasons he expresses, but because they posses a courage and integrity he could never even imagine. And he is the type of person you choose to defend? That tells us all we need to know about you and him. As for me, I celebrate when our freedom fighters like Herman Bell gain justice. I do work to educate people about our heroes and sheroes who still remain trapped by our enemies. As for Cosby, if he rots in prison I won't give it another thought.