I’ve read Camille Cosby’s blistering statement blaming the media, racism, politics and the criminal justice system for her husband’s sexual assault conviction, and I’ve seen the backlash against her.
While I believe Bill Cosby’s own actions are ultimately to blame for his conviction, I also believe Camille Cosby has the right to speak her mind.
That’s why I would caution those who have cast Camille Cosby as a villain in this real-life drama.
You can’t have it both ways.
You can’t tell us that we must believe the victims in the Cosby case, and in the next breath disregard the pain of the biggest victim of all – Camille Cosby.
Each time her husband brought women into their homes, or into hotel rooms, or into places where they should never have been, Camille Cosby was victimized. She was victimized by a husband whose greatest loyalty was to himself. She was victimized in spite of the vows they made to one another, in spite of the children they’d raised together, in spite of the career she’d helped him to build.
So when Camille Cosby releases a statement that accuses the media of a “frenzied, relentless demonization” of her husband, don’t say she’s lost touch with reality. Believe the victim. When she says “our justice system utterly and routinely fail[s] to protect African Americans falsely accused in so-called courts of law,” don’t say she’s off-target. Believe the victim. When she says not all accusers are truthful, don’t criticize her comparisons. Believe the victim.
Because you can’t have it both ways.
You can’t tell us that we are dismissing the voices of black women in the Cosby case while at the same dismissing Camille. You can’t tell us that the cries of women are silenced while demanding silence from Camille. You can’t say that race has no role in this case and discount the words of Camille.
You simply can’t have it both ways.
Camille Cosby says Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele ran for office on the promise of convicting her husband. That’s true. Camille Cosby says her husband had performances cancelled and honorary degrees rescinded before the trial even started. That’s true. She said Emmitt Till’s accuser took decades to admit that she’d lied when she said the 14-year-old sexually assaulted her in 1955. That’s true.
And yet Camille is demonized for telling those truths, when I thought we were believing the victims.
And make no mistake. Camille has been victimized more than anyone in this case.
Each time another woman came forward, that woman represented another broken promise by her husband. Each time another woman came forward, that woman represented another betrayal by her husband. Each time another woman came forward, that woman represented another wound from her husband.
So Camille was victimized at least 60 times, and now I believe she is grieving.
Denial’s a big part of grieving. Depression’s a symptom of grieving. Anger and bargaining are both in her statement. And I think it’s tied to grieving.
But until she reaches the stage of acceptance, remember that she is a victim. She hasn’t raped anyone. She isn’t guilty of a crime. She’s simply a wife who’s been betrayed.
And if she says that race and politics played roles in her husband’s conviction, maybe we should do what we did for Cosby’s accusers.
Maybe we should believe the victim.
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