As an African-American kid growing up in the 1990s, Wesley Morris loved the Cosby Show. Now as an adult, Morris has to reconcile the character he once idolized with the sexual predator who portrayed him. Thursday's guilty verdict against Bill Cosby can't undo what the entertainer did to his victims, but "it also can’t undo what he once did for me, which was to make me believe in myself," the cultural critic writes in the New York Times. "I don’t want to lose that belief, just the man who ennobled me to possess it in the first place," he writes. Now, as others in the country are doing with fallen icons, he must "cleave" the comedian from his work.
"If a sexual predator wanted to come up with a smoke screen for his ghastly conquests, he couldn’t do better than Cliff Huxtable," writes Morris. And he finds a painful irony at the heart of that. "Cosby made blackness palatable to a country historically conditioned to think the worst of black people," writes Morris. "And to pull that off, he had to find a morally impeccable presentation of himself and his race." He did so, not only in Cliff Huxtable but in his entire public persona. "But Mr. Cosby might have managed to pull a fast one, using his power and wealth to become the predator that white America mythologized in a campaign to terrorize, torture and kill black people for centuries, " writes Morris. "Mr. Cosby told lots of jokes. This was his sickest one." Click for the full column. (Read more Bill Cosby stories.)