As Cliff Huxtable, Bill Cosby seemed like the most charming, loving dad in the whole world. When he needed to impart some kind of wisdom or discipline, he did, but there was always warmth and humor in everything he did. Claire Huxtable, played by Phylicia Rashad, was sassy and independent but maternal and loving. She had it all—a satisfying career as a lawyer and a rich home life. Cliff and Claire were still in love after many years of marriage and five children. The kids were funny and charming and they bickered the way my brothers and I bickered but also loved each other in a familiar, fierce way. Here, on our televisions, week after week, for years, was a glorious display of a happy black family, black love, and black success. The importance of The Cosby Showcannot be understated.
The show’s importance no longer matters. It cannot matter.
I can’t remember when I first heard these accusations but it has been many years. I’ve always believed these women but I have struggled because The Cosby Show meant so much to me. That episode, the one where Theo tries to prove he is independent and has to learn a life lesson about money? Classic. This is the pernicious trap a man like Bill Cosby has created. He believes his artistic legacy will absolve his criminal behavior. It cannot. We have to say enough. We have to stop implicitly or explicitly supporting Cosby. We cannot justify our fondness for him any longer. We have to demand that his show be taken off the air. We have to stop supporting any of his endeavors. His art does not absolve him. Art is nothing compared to humanity, nothing at all.