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raceAhead: Bill Cosby Becomes The First #MeToo Era Celebrity to Go to Prison

September 25, 2018, 7:42 PM UTC

“It is time for justice. Mr. Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The time has come.”

These were the words from Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill, passing judgment on America’s Dad.

Eighty-one-year-old William Henry Cosby, Sr. was sentenced on Tuesday to three to 10 years behind bars for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constandt in 2004. Constandt was working as the director of operations at Temple University’s women’s basketball team when she met the famous alumnae. She alleged that he drugged and molested her during a meeting in his home. The judge quoted from her testimony that Cosby took her “beautiful, young spirit and crushed it.”

It has been a mind-numbing fall from grace for the former star, a now convicted predator who had long been hiding in plain sight. I imagine that it is a bittersweet moment for his dozens of other alleged victims.

He will now become the first celebrity of the #MeToo era to be sent to prison.

While beloved by mainstream audiences, black ones long held an ambivalent view of the comedian. The Los Angeles Times’s Greg Braxton broke down the binary during Cosby’s first trial, in June, 2017.

During the latter stages of his five-decades-long career, the entertainer has had a love-hate relationship with black America, where he is regarded as:

(a) A beloved, heroic figure who broke down several barriers as an artist, educator, philanthropist and creator of “The Cosby Show,” which revolutionized television with its portrait of an affluent, educated black family.


(b) An outspoken scold who chastised poorer blacks on issues ranging from bad grammar to the squandering of opportunities provided by the civil rights movement.

If you’re curious, I was mostly Team B.

But either way, the news still has the power to shock. Justice delayed became justice delivered, a hopeful sign for a society that has yet to fully wrestle with the contours of predatory behavior from powerful men. With many trials yet to come, a little hope can come in handy.

On Point

Facebook content moderators sue the company saying the work gives them PTSDThere is only one named plaintiff in a class of potentially thousands, but Selena Scola worked as a content moderator from June 2017 through March 2018, one of the 7,500 contracted workers who are paid to delete hate speech, nudity, graphic violence, images of self-harm, bullying and other content that violates the platform’s terms of service. The suit alleges she has PTSD and charges the company with providing inadequate care for moderators.Motherboard

General Stanley McChrystal renounces Robert E. Lee
“In the minds of the military, Robert E. Lee was sort of a perfect soldier,” McChrystal told the audience at Fortune‘s Brainstorm Reinvent conference last night, and he’s not wrong. But he’s re-examined the Confederate general’s legacy, clearly linked to slavery and white supremacy, and decided that to overlook the totality of his life was a grave mistake. In fact, he took a photo of the general that had been given to him by his wife decades ago, and tossed it in the garbage. “This otherwise extraordinary soldier, we had simplified him.” It was one of the pivotal moments of his evolving views of leadership, and part of a new book called Leaders: Myth and Reality. Spoiler alert: the book includes his assessment of Coco Chanel’s leadership capacity as well.

A new Siri Shortcut aims to help keep drivers safe during police traffic stops
Now this is innovation. Siri Shortcuts is a new automation app for iOS12, which allows users to create an actual shortcut to automate common Siri-related tasks. This one, created and shared by Reddit user Robert Petersen, is designed to document a police stop. The command “Hey Siri, I’m getting pulled over,” will pause music, turn down the brightness of the phone, turns on “Do Not Disturb,” sends a message to a chosen contact, activates video, then sends the video to your contact. Peterson suggests keeping your phone in a dash mount while driving. Click through to get the details.
Cult of Mac

Taraji Henson opens up a new mental health foundation
Few people know that the Empire star's son struggled with mental health issues after his father was murdered in 2003, and her own father died two years later. Looking for psychiatric support for her son opened her eyes to the lack of representation in mental health care professionals and the ongoing stigma in the black community. Her new foundation is focused on raising awareness and eliminating shame, one of their first projects will be a series of murals installed in the bathrooms of urban schools, to help combat bullying and depression. The bathrooms are “where fights happened, jumps, that’s where you got bullied because the teachers weren’t in there,” she says. You go there to get your head together and instead of seeing hate stuff or whatever madness kids put in there, we decided to turn it into art.”


The Woke Leader

The last episode of Anthony Bourdain’s 'Parts Unknown' is beautiful
If you can stand it, then do take a moment to check out the last installment of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. It’s doubly poignant, perhaps in part because comedian, CNN host, and raceAhead friend Kamau Bell was the guest. They were in Kenya. Shit got real, in the best possible way. Bell has shared extensively about the episode and the loss of the man he knew and admired. Maybe they were even going to be friends, someday. “And this is all hard to say because I don't know what led him to take his own life,” he says. “But he seemed so sure of who he was. And it resonated and it made others around him more sure of who they were.” Even random Kenyans, even Kamau, even you, even me. Ciao, Tony.

The science behind sexual assault memories
It’s a neuroscience thing: Memories formed during times of intense emotional distress can be clear, intense, and quite narrowly focused. A series of brain chemicals are triggered by strong emotion which encode memories, and have been proven by research, says Richard A. Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry. And contrary to popular myth, alcohol does not create violent tendencies, it unleashes them, he says. And a young brain may feel free to take greater risks, “but that doesn’t mean [teens] have no sense of right or wrong or that they are hard-wired to violate the rights of others,” he says.
New York Times

When talking about race, a picture says so much
This photo essay from photographer Chris Buck flips a familiar racial and power dynamic between women or girls. In one photo, a wealthy Latina woman ignores a white maid pouring her coffee. In another, a little white girl looks at an endless wall of beautiful black-skinned dolls. And one photo shows a row of laughing Asian customers ignoring the white women providing pedicures. The photographer aimed to spark a conversation about race and class, preferably in real life. But, as Quartz reports, the chatter happened immediately online, not all of it productive. “Y’all act like we force the [a]sians to do nails and y’all act like there aren’t just as many black dolls in the stores as white ones these days,” said one twitter user. And with that, many pairs of earrings were held.


Ladies and gentlemen, these people set, they opened the doors, they gave us the right, and today, ladies and gentlemen, in our cities and public schools we have fifty percent drop out. In our own neighborhood, we have men in prison. No longer is a person embarrassed because they’re pregnant without a husband. (clapping) No longer is a boy considered an embarrassment if he tries to run away from being the father of the unmarried child.
Bill Cosby