I have been sitting on this one for a while now but a recent conversation with my sister brought the topic back up.
Recently my sister was trying to recruit me or mainly my wife to join her in an old school Slow Jam/R&B night out. While talking we all wondered if they would be playing any R. Kelly songs. The discussion continued, one thing led to another and we got on Cosby.
Obviously this subject is full of landmines and attempting to discuss the pros and cons of the Cosby legacy should be left to the professionals. (Ie, See Dave Chappelle Netflix special)
So here I am diving into the hot lava.
To start I am not here to discuss guilt, trial, fairness of sentence vis-à-vis other celebrities etc. Guilty is guilty just because someone else gets away with something doesn’t mean he should.
I am only here to talk about consumption of the art, in this case the multiple television shows that a lot of us in the black community grew up on; The Cosby Show, A Different world, Fat Albert and the big one in our home “Little Bill.”
The wife and I have had many discussions about this over the last year and we tend to be on the same page on this issue. We eventually came to realize that we consider Cosby and Mr. Huxtable as two separate people. The person, that is flawed and obviously an awful human being who used his power to take advantage of many. The other, a perfectly created fictional character that helped influence the black perspective for multiple generations of black people all-over the world.
Our kids watch “Little Bill” and they love it. A show where my son gets to see someone just like him. A kid who reads, imagines and loves to go camping in the backyard. A chance to see himself in a television show or cartoon is rare for a child of color and that is important enough to us that we continue to watch it in our home.
I know, I know there are other shows out there with black representation and we have tried. Doc McStuffins, Motown Magic, whatever the spinoff of Home is. They just didn’t stick believe me my wife tried.
The truth is our kids don’t know who Bill Cosby is but they do know little Bill the fictional character.
I struggle to deny the positive representation this fictional family provides for my real family. Our community already lacks tv shows of that caliber and removing it from our lineup is not something I am prepared to do.
The question we should ask our selves is: “why is it that a show that was produced from (1999 to 2004 ) remains one of the best and few kids show for black children to see themselve as the main characters?”
Until I find a show that equally represents my son the way Little Bill has, Little Bill shall remain in our tv lineup.
Ps: suggestions are welcomed.