This week we learned that Bill Cosby has been sentenced to 3-10 years in prison for the sexual assault and sexual harassment of Andrea Constand. (And she is allegedly not his only victim.) As a woman, I find this news gratifying, if also insufficient in the face of the trauma she and his other victims have endured during and after his abuse. That one of America's most beloved entertainment figures, someone who possesses both star power and financial power, can still be held accountable for a pattern of reprehensible behavior is truly good news. It means that the #MeToo movement is making some headway.
As a white woman, however, I must ask why Cosby has been held to account while so many other influential white men have not. Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer come to mind first. While both lost their positions of influence, neither is going to jail for their crimes of sexual misconduct. Meanwhile, Donald Trump's open confessions of sexual harassment and sexual assault have not harmed him in the least. Why have these men gotten a pass? One certain answer is: #Whiteness
Cosby's publicist said the trial was "the most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States" and placed him in the company of black men and youth falsely accused of accosting or raping white women. Other Facebook posts have made the rounds, using lynching language to point out the racial double standard whereby Cosby has been convicted while white men run free. Alongside Charles Blow, I say, "No." Absolutely no. Do not disgrace the memory of Emmett Till and others, do not dilute the horrors of lynching when what you need to do is call out a double standard... even a double standard that is undeniably unjust.
We can unconditionally condemn Cosby's behavior while also condemning a system whereby white men have not faced the same consequences for their own criminal behaviors. We can work toward a more just criminal justice system and make sure that sexual predators face consequences for the traumas they have inflicted.