My name is Alisa Starr. I make Snarky Cards: Brutally Honest Greeting Cards. I sell them in bars from a box that hangs beneath my boobs. They will crack you the fuck up.
And usually, I use this space to talk about life as as Art-Prostitute. Flitting from bar to bar, shaking my tits, to sell my art.
But, today, I want to talk about Awesome Black Men. I want to talk about Awesome Black Men not just because of my enormous Vagina (just, huge, by the way) and the urban legend of black cock. But because I think we need to meditate on Black Men Who Rock, so that we can appropriately punish the black men who rape. There are far, far more Black Men Who Rock and Don’t Abuse Women and Children, than black men who rape. So, while I talk about my feelings, here are some pretty pictures of Black Men who are good men, who treat women with respect, and whom we can look up to.
Which brings me to my feelings. Today, I had feelings, because I read some disturbing articles about Bill Fucking Cosby. Who, apparently, has been drugging and raping young women for the last 40 years. And America has been politely ignoring it.
Because loving Bill Cosby made America feel less racist, in the 80’s. And feeling less racist led to being less racist. And that led to more opportunity for people of color in the Entertainment Industry. And where tv goes, America goes. And so, acknowledging, and pursuing his 14 rape allegations would require us to not only question an Entertainer (God forbid!), but it would make us re-examine race.
Liking Bill Cosby gave white people permission to be a little less racist. I remember, as a white kid in the 80’s, how proud my parents and other white parents were, that they loved this black guy. And if he is no longer the good guy we thought he was, what then? We can’t go back to being racist. We already have a black president.
Learning about his betrayal of women, today, really bummed me out. The first thing I did was Twat about it. Because I’ve recently learned to love Twitter. And I wanted a lot of people to have to think about holding Bill Cosby responsible for being a rapist. But then I thought about it, and it just made me sad. So, I turned to Jayy Dodd, a writer I’d recently stumbled onto, who writes eloquently, and smartly about race and gender. I wrote:
@jayydodd Bill Cosby’s rape charges are bumming me out. Can you name some great black men role models to cheer me up? Please?
He responded: @Snarkycardchick the onus can’t be on me for you to find positive examples of Black masculinity. There are far more positive ones than neg
He’s right, of course. And then I realized I was treating him like my internet boyfriend. Which, is fine, he’s probably a lot of people’s internet-boyfriend. He’s a charismatic writer, with a great following. However, asking him to perform actual boyfriend/best friend tasks like coming up with a list of Awesome Black Men to cheer me up is unrealistic. He doesn’t know me from Eve. So, to him, I’m just another annoying white person asking him to justify other people’s behavior, because they’re in(of?) the same race.
Regardless of his completely justified annoyance, his words bolstered me. And so, I wanted to make a list, RIGHT NOW!!!! of Awesome Black Men. Because while Bill Cosby is, apparently, a complete piece of shit, the work he did made room for a lot of black men in comedy, entertainment and the world. And THOSE black men treat women with respect. And right now, I just need to see a bunch of their names. Partly, because I want to look this thing in the face.
I was molested. So I know, for a fact, that sexual abuse can really fuck you up. And my Dad physically abused me. When I talk to his brothers or sisters about what my dad did, they say things like “I don’t want to believe that he would do that.” And their affection for my father invalidates my experience. America, it seems, has a similar problem when it comes to rape and sexual abuse. If someone is well-liked, as entertainers tend to be, we don’t want to believe that they are capable of rape or child abuse. So we don’t prosecute or examine their actions. The thing is, if you ignore a rapist or child-abuser, he (it’s often, but not always a he) will keep on raping. And, apparently, that’s just what Bill Cosby has done.
Disliking and prosecuting him for what he’s done isn’t simple. Because it’s wrapped up in race. The institutionalized prosecution and jailing of black men has been going on in this country for hundreds of years. And the system, which prosecutes (persecutes) black men more often and more harshly for their crimes than white people. And this consistent jailing of black men tears families apart, and leaves black women and children in poverty. It’s one of the ways which white men (and women) have maintained power for the last 400 years in America. And it has a lot of repercussions. One of them is that we believe black men to be criminals. Because we criminalize being a black man. And, in my lifetime, the point at which this tide started to change, was when my white family and friends could point at Bill and say “that black guy is a good guy”. And now he’s not a good guy.
I don’t think that letting him get away with attacking women, because he is an entertainer, and we have already put too many black men in jail, is the right move.
I understand the reluctance to look at what he’s done. However, we need to. All women should feel safe. And we need to stop shaming survivors of rape. We need to start shaming rapists. My horror of what he’s done isn’t because he’s black. It’s because he was the father I wish I had.
When I was abused, I would disappear into the Cosby show, and Bill Cosby would be the Dad who was kind to me, and made jokes to cheer me up. He was the kind of Dad whose love was unconditional. And now that Dad turns out to be a lot like my actual, abusive father. And that breaks my heart.
However, I’m 34. I’ve found other Father-figures. I can un-learn my affection for him. My broken heart will mend.
But the fact that’s he’s black, and he was such a huge role model also means we’re short one Great Black Man Role Model. And that’s what I wanted @JayyDodd to fix. But he’s can’t be the only voice in the Universe. So, here are a list of really Awesome Black Men!
These men are heroes. We can idolize them. Let’s take Bill off his pedestal, and put these guys up where he used to go. So, here are 18 Awesome Black Guys! Who can help you get through this terrible time. I know, thinking about them made me feel better.
-Samuel L. Jackson
-Cuba Gooding Jr.
-James Earl Jones
Pretty Great Guys, right? I didn’t include Will Smith because his religious zealotry makes
me nervous, personally. Also, I didn’t include Obama. I think too many white people point at him, and say “Look! Racism is irrelevant now!” And, uh, it’s not. And in this case, we needed quantity AND quality. I know that there are some Great Black Men I’ve forgotten, or left out of this list. Maybe that makes you mad. Maybe that means you should make a list of Great Black Men and post them.
But that’s how many GREAT Black Men we have entertaining us and provoking us into thoughtful conversations. We can afford to be picky!!
Thanks for listening to me rant, Internets.
P.S. Thank-you, JayyDodd, for being annoyed with me enough that I got off my ass and wrote this. You were right. And it feels good to talk about it.