Just to be clear, it was Bill Cosby -- the real man, not the make-believe character who charmed us as a bougie black dad on "The Cosby Show," or the comedian who made the world laugh with his family brand of humor — who on Thursday was at last held accountable for his crimes against Andrea Constand. She is a woman he valued so little that he drugged her and assaulted her 14 years ago at his home.
Sadly, some of Cosby's staunchest supporters seemed to confuse his TV persona with the real-life sexual predator that more than 50 women who have accused him of sexual assault have described.
The 80-year-old entertainer was convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault: penetration with lack of consent, penetration while unconscious and penetration after administering an intoxicant. These are felonies, each punishable by up to 10 years in state prison; it's possible the sentences could be served concurrently.
At the time of the assault, Constand was a mentee of Cosby's and an employee at Temple University. And for all these years since, Cosby has insisted their sex was consensual, despite Cosby having paid a $3.38 million confidential settlement in 2006, after Constand filed a civil lawsuit against him when prosecutors refused to bring criminal charges.
Cosby even admitted
in a deposition that he gave women drugs as a way to get sex. And he has not been shy about having sex outside of his marriage. Even so, his lawyers argued, the sex with Constand was consensual.
Constand told a different story
: "I was kind of jolted awake and felt Mr. Cosby on the couch beside me, behind me, and my vagina was being penetrated quite forcefully, and I felt my breast being touched," Constand testified in court. "I was limp, and I could not fight him off."
And unlike the first trial that ended in a deadlocked jury, this time the court believed her. I believed her, too.
This time around, the jury didn't buy it when Cosby and his lawyers tried to shame and discredit Constand in the most stereotypical and sexist terms, describing her as a gold-digger and a con artist who had deliberately tried to set up Cosby for a big payday. This time, after years of brushing off claims of dozens of women who said the entertainer had also drugged and assaulted them, the jury heard from five other women who all told stories similar to Constand's.
Most importantly, the jury didn't buy it — nor did I — when Cosby's family and many others shouted that this was a "public lynching," in an effort to get the black community to rally around his "innocence." Really? You drug women, then force them to have sex and have the audacity to call it a public lynching when you're finally held accountable?
How insulting, especially when you consider
the more than 4,400 known cases of public lynchings that actually did happen on US soil.
Those souls, who were finally memorialized last week with the unveiling of a 6-acre monument in Alabama
, were innocents -- black women, men and children who rarely had done more than look the wrong way at a white person. Cosby, by his own admission, is far from innocent.
From the beginning, Cosby and his attorneys tried t
o make this case more about race than rape. Noting that most of the women who had accused him of sexual assault were white, and most of the media covering the story was white, the entertainer's lawyers wanted to redirect the conversation. To deflect.
There is no denying that systemic racism runs throughout our justice system, and clouds nearly every case where the accused is black and the victims are white, but I listened closely to Cosby's own words to see through the haze and hear the truth.
In the fight for equal justice, it's easy to want revenge, to want to reclaim justice for the millions of black people who are denied it every day. It may even sound like equal justice when some argue that Cosby should be let off the hook because men like Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump, who have all been accused of sexual harassment, or worse, have yet to face any trials or arrests for their alleged acts.
I get it and I'm waiting, too. Truth is, it's too soon to go around beating the drum, as some have begun to do, to celebrate Cosby's guilty verdict as a victory for women in the age of #MeToo. No. I'll need to see a few privileged white men like them who abuse and assault women -- regardless of their race — facing jail time for their crimes.
Cosby is one small win, but our fight for women's equality is not over. Who's up next?