Emmy-winning producer, stand-up comedian W. Kamau Bell, published an op-ed with TIME, where he elaborates on his decision to create the Showtime documentary series “We Need to Talk About Cosby,” which released its official. Bell touches upon growing up watching Bill Cosby’s rise and fall throughout his historic and much talked about career; along with his fears of sharing this project with the world.
The question as to why Bell wanted to step into and explore such a conversational issue that centered on an African American icon was answered.
“There is a question that is asked of all stand-up comics. And it is asked most frequently of comics who are being newly discovered by the press. It is seen as the perfect way to really get to know the comedian: “Who were your favorite stand-up comics when you were growing up?” It’s a simple question. But when the press was first discovering me in the early 2010s, it felt really complicated, because the stand-up comic I loved the most growing up was Bill Cosby. He had been a part of my entire life, from his cartoon Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids in the ’70s to his stand-up, and of course through The Cosby Show in the ’80s. For my high school graduation I wore a “Cosby sweater” instead of a suit jacket.”
“This docuseries feels like it could be the end of my career. Many times while making it I hoped it would just go away. Get canceled or permanently shelved. It had certainly happened to other Bill Cosby documentaries. But then every time I would have that thought, I would think about the women who have alleged harrowing encounters with Cosby and their bravery when they talked to me for this project. These are women who have gone through the ringer since they came forward. Lili Bernard, who claims Cosby drugged and raped her during the time she appeared on The Cosby Show, says there has been constant “blaming and shaming.” Most of these women have learned to distrust the media as a whole. But they trusted me with their stories. I couldn’t leave them on the shelf, even if my career is in the balance. We have to be able to at least have the conversation. So much more is at stake.”
“This is bigger than Bill Cosby. America has a reputation for not listening to women who have been sexually assaulted. America has a history of allowing powerful men to take women as the spoils of their power. America has done an awful job of dealing with racism and rape. I sincerely hope that we can do a better job of dealing with both those issues in the Bill Cosby conversation. I believe there is one more thing to learn from him, whether he wants us to or not.”