For comedian W. Kamau Bell, his latest documentary examining the scandal of Bill Cosby has raised some uncomfortable things to discuss – but he maintains that he is firmly behind those women who were victims.
In an interview with Page Six, the host of the United Shades of America series for CNN spoke at length about the documentary series
that he produced for Showtime. The four-episode series details the comedy legend’s legacy of philanthropy and promoting higher education, juxtaposed with interviews with some of the women that he has been accused of sexually assaulting in the past six decades. Cosby has been accused of rape and drug-induced sexual assault of over 60 women and was serving a sentence of three-to-ten years for sexual assault until his 2018 conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in June 2021. Bell admits that the situation is “hard to confront”, and acknowledges that he has gotten a lot of pushback from some in the Black community. He does make one strong point when discussing those criticisms. “I know some black people say, ‘Don’t tear down this black man,’” he said. “But a third of the survivors are black women. Why are we prioritizing one man over all these black women?”
He goes further, explaining how he’s in disbelief that some people don’t want to believe the accusations. He also isn’t interested in entertaining conspiracy theories. “I don’t know how you don’t reckon with the fact that over 60 women have come forward,” the 49-year old said. For Bell, he chose to make the documentary series because he grew up like many others having admiration and respect for the 84-year old comedian, but the conversation in full needed to be had. “He had a very big influence on my life — as he did for a lot of people, specifically for black people of that generation,” Bell says, “And then you find out about all the accusations of sexual assault and rape and eventually I realized I believed all those women to be telling the truth.”
Ultimately, what the Totally Biased host wants to see happen in the wake of this documentary series is that more attention is paid to the victims of sexual assault and rape to the point where they can feel stronger in coming forward because “that’s not the case right now and how do we create a system that limits harm?”