Pop Culture The Word 6 minute read

Love Shouldn’t Be Blind & Deaf: Conspiracy Theories, R. Kelly & Cosby


Brown liquor, blues music and my uncles is a combination that has always guaranteed a night overflowing with colorful conspiracy theories.  My uncles’ philosophy: nothing is as it seems; and they relish spending hours talking to each other and those around them about the “real deal” with such knowing conviction that one would leave questioning everything the news and books ever told them.

Now you know, that wasn’t no one’ but Lyndon Johnson who had Kennedy assassinated.

 I ain’t never told nobody my social security number that I didn’t have to.  All Black folks got a 9 as one of the last 4 digits so the government, banks, employers and such know that they dealing with a Colored person.

Hilary and Trump are in this thang together. I don’t understand why ya’ll spend so much time talking about the election.

Ain’t no doubt in my mind that game (fight, election) was fixed.

When my uncles get together they stay up until the sun threatens to rise before their old legs force them to rise from the old, upholstered dining room chairs, stagger into a bed where one of my annoyed aunts lays with her back turned to his side of the bed.

The next morning, the women gather, wearing various patterned housecoats, pin-curled hair,  satin bonnets, and bedroom slipper and perform their unspoken synchronized dance in the kitchen (one sweeping, one washing “mommas good crystal glasses” the men gulped their brown liquor from, one starting to lay out the bacon in perfect rows on the cast-iron skillet, the other putting butter and homemade preserves on the table as they laugh about their men:

His simple ass didn’t get in the bed until 3:23 this mornin’.  Had the nerve to grab my butt like he could do something, but then was snoring before I even had the chance to say, “no.”

They need shut up with that ol’ foolishness sometimes. I swear they believe that God made the sun brighter in the South just to ensure Black folks stayed dark.

Then they’d laugh—partly because they adored their husbands and their “conspiracy congresses,” and partly because –though they’d rarely admit it—they believed a lot of their husband’s theories.

Mistrust of what the outside world tells us, is almost a Black birthright.  It’s understandable if you consider our history.  Our lives in America started on a lies—has been wrought with being lied to and lied about consistently and constantly.

So, at family reunions, barber shops, restaurant dinner tables, fraternity gatherings, picnics, all men, not just older men, sit in chairs, lean on walls and conjecture about what, about whom, about how the world has been and is trying to get over on Black folks.

Neither Tupac or Biggie is dead

They said they shot him because he had a weapon, but still ain’t found one

AIDs is just another government run way to get rid of Blacks

We live in a home where we don’t trust the landlord, the rent keeps going up, the appliances rarely work, and our neighbors—good people– inexplicably keep getting evicted.

Just like our neighbors, our heroes keep being evicted from the living plane—somehow: Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcom X, Huey Newton, our high school best friend, our youngest uncle.  We’ve watched how Black man after Black man is assassinated on the streets by the police, trapped in ghettos or shot by their own brothers, smeared in board rooms, trapped unfairly in the prison business.  So why should we believe the validity of accusations when it seems that another Brother is the target of their destruction? Why should we believe that Bill Cosby and R. Kelly are sexual deviants, who have abused and or taken advantage of multiple women?

Our distrust is understandable.  Our faith in conspiracy theories is valid.

Discernment is critical, however.

Do I believe racism has fueled the witch-hunt for Bill Cosby 35 years after he committed the accused crimes: absolutely?  Do I believe that the law, the government, the majority public has treated Bill Cosby differently than they have any of their White sexual predators?  Well, of course I do; this is America. I am outraged that they make Celine Dion’s “love affair” when she was 14 years old — with a man who eventually became her husband — a romantic love story, like they did Elvis’ affair with 14 year old Priscilla.  Yet they still vilify our heroes.  I’m aware how they pulled the Cosby Show off of the air—punishing all of the actors, before there was even a trial, whereas, Stephen Collins, the lead actor from the popular show 7th Heaven never was punished for his  admitted sex with a 12 year-old and reruns of that show still air today.

Yet, do I believe that Cosby drugged and took advantage of women, who were willing to have sex with him for business favors (let’s get real-some showed up to his room at 2:00 a.m. wearing lingerie), but were pissed about being drugged: yes.  How does one dismiss over 50 women’s accusations?  Bill Cosby performed sexual crimes.

Similarly, R. Kelly is a pedophile.  The media isn’t creating this story because frankly R. Kelly doesn’t matter that much to the White public (frankly, most don’t know who he is).  He is our star, our problem—in some ways, a creation of our own doing.  R. Kelly, who has poorly hidden his love for teenage girls, took advantage of desperate parents (parents looking for success and maybe fame for their talented daughters).  We love R. Kelly.  He is the soundtrack to the greatest loves and greatest sex of many of our lives lives; yet, I love my people more than I love him as an individual.

I can’t be blind.  My love doesn’t work that way. I see us.  I see the beauty and the ugly.  Cosby and Kelly did some ugly , vile things.  We’ve got to admit it.  I can’t ignore nor sacrifice the Black women and children who were abused because of my star-adoration for the men who were their abusers.  Will I, sit up with my uncles (for as long as they would allow) and banter about the conspiracy of how they went after Cosby because of his power as Black man—absolutely; or how some of the parents who are accusing R. Kelly seem somewhat suspect–absolutely. But the improper chase doesn’t excuse the crime.  I believe that even my Uncle Ralph would say, “Baby, brown liquor can make the truth seem fuzzy, but it don’t make it go away.”




My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more


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