Bill Cosby Can't Save His Legacy

The fallen star's reputation, marred by a sexual assault conviction and his noted disdain for Blacks who didn't meet his expectations, is irreparably damaged.
Bill Cosby Can’t Save His Legacy
Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Bill Cosby is a conundrum for me in that I veer toward calling for the end of the carceral state and hold a general disbelief in hell. However, if that old fool spent the rest of his life in prison and, after that, suffered eternal damnation, would I cry? I don’t want to answer that, but I bet you’ll soon figure out my feelings on this monster (spoiler).

No matter how Pudding Pop dies or where he goes or doesn’t go thereafter, the man is very much concerned with his legacy. Cosby had long come across to me as a self-important know-it-all based on past interviews, so I am not surprised by this. After all, since being convicted of sexual assault and serving his sentence at a state prison in Pennsylvania, Bill Cosby now fancies himself a bit of a political prisoner akin to Mahatma Gandhi.  

Unfortunately, while the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not necessarily agree to that self-aggrandizing assessment, it has given Cosby and his legal team new cause for celebration.

Recently, the court agreed to review Cosby’s 2018 sexual assault conviction. It provides Cosby and his team a forum to persuade the appellate court to overturn the outcome of his case. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, Cosby’s legal argument is centered on “a 2005 deal he struck with a prior district attorney—never put in writing—[that] should have barred Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele from charging him in 2015.”

Moreover, the court “said it was interested in the decision by the Montgomery County judge who oversaw the case to allow prosecutors to call as witnesses five women whose allegations fell outside the statute of limitations but whose testimony was meant to bolster the account of Cosby’s central accuser, Andrea Constand.”

So Cosby could potentially be let go because the same wealth that provided him the sort of power structure that helped him long evade persecutions for his alleged crimes may have found him one last loophole.

In a statement Cosby’s team said: “As we have all stated, the false conviction of Bill Cosby is so much bigger than him—it’s about the destruction of ALL Black people and people of color in America. We’re extremely thankful to our attorneys (Brain Perry, Jennifer Bonjean & Barbara Zemlock) for their tenacious efforts in fighting for the vindication of Mr. Cosby.”

Here’s the thing to me about Bill Cosby: If you are familiar with his “Pound Cake” speech and the broader media tour and message behind it, you understood then that Bill Cosby is not for all Black people.

What he did in that speech was to justify state-sanctioned violence against Black people. Cosby had no empathy for the plight of poor Black people. He had no nuance in him for the basic fact that the nihilism he condemned in some of us was bred from nothing. Poor Black people let Bill Cosby down, but he had nothing to say about how society continues to fail Black people.

Not long after, it would later be reported in People that Cosby had settled a civil lawsuit involving sexual assault allegations from Constand, but to me and those who could not look away from the truth about Bill Cosby, he had already proved to be a letdown.

The justice that took far too many decades to come afterward should not be discounted on a technicality, but just so Bill Cosby and his supporters understand, a turnover won’t remove the stains from his legacy. Cosby will never be looked at as a martyr to anyone besides another walking societal ill. His name will not go back on Spelman’s buildings. Those fancy, arguably uppity Blacks will not welcome him back into the fold with high siddity arms. 

No matter what happens next, to many, Bill Cosby will be looked at not only as a monster but also a hypocrite. Money can buy your way out of many things, but in this case, Cosby’s legacy is sealed. It’s the hell he deserves.