As I sit to write this article, it has been announced that Bill Cosby is being released from prison. Whether you are excited by this news or disgusted doesn’t matter. A man who went from America’s Dad in the 1980s to a social pariah because he fell victim to those two timeless, irresistible pitfalls of men – sex and power – is now at home in his own bed for the first time in three years.
He was released by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which recognized that the prosecutor went outside of the legal boundaries to get Cosby convicted…mostly to score points on his career path. Bill Cosby told the truth, in a deposition in 2015, that he drugged and raped numerous women who trusted him not to do such a heinous crime. And whatever you might think about the motives or understanding of those women, as they agreed to meet with Cosby, incapacitated sex is RAPE. End of story.
On the same day of Cosby’s release, we also hear of the death of former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Like Cosby, Rumsfeld is a man who sought to use his influence and power to subjugate people…through the use of torture, terror, and murder. He, too, was a serial liar who cared nothing about his victims nor the consequences of his actions. Unlike Cosby, Rumsfeld never spent a day behind bars.
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on July 9, 1868, and granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” which included former slaves recently freed. Equal Protection refers to the idea that a governmental body may not deny people equal protection of its governing laws. The governing body state must treat an individual in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances.
As the descendants of enslaved Africans in America, we know all too well how empty those words have been. Whether someone in our family, community, or a celebrity, the inability to receive equal protection is more the norm rather than the exception. How many of our “less well-financed” brothers and sisters are yet incarcerated by a system that has deemed them guilty until proven innocent? Far too many, we all can be sure.
It is my hope and prayer that our nation can begin the difficult but extremely necessary work to live up to its creed of ensuring a level playing field for all of its citizens. If that means enduring the telling of the ugly truth of our nation’s history, then let it begin. Real healing and growth can only come from TRUTH telling and reconciliation. Anything less will be akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Useless…