NOW we hate Bill Cosby the sexual predator, but we still defend Bill Cosby the creator of The Cosby Show, as though the show wasn’t the embodiment of the destructive respectability politics in which Cosby (and many others) have been advancing since 1865 (18, not a typo). The Cosby Show was a cultural jewel, indeed. On the one hand, it finally presented an image of the black family that defied the decades old myth of black family dysfunction. In that way, it presented a truth that most black Americans have always known about our own families: my family is not inherently pathological. On the other hand, The Cosby Show portrayed a black family whose structure and every day experiences were in no way realistic for the overwhelming majority of black families (or non-black families!). In doing so, it entrenched the notion that if black people would simply choose to be “respectable" like the Huxtables, all of our problems would be solved.
For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.