There is an art to BlackLivesMatter. Anyone who has read my new book, Justice in the Round: Essays on the American Jury System, knows that it is dedicated to eight young black men, whose lives were prematurely interrupted either by vigilante justice or at the hands of the police executioner.
Readers are quick to discern that Justice in the Round is a plea for the survival of black millennials and vicariously the survival of black people in America. As a “Baby Boomer,” I get it that this is a new day and the old stratagems do not fit the complexities of 21st century paradigms.
“Pardon me Baby Boomers,” I wrote in Justice in the Round, “but it is time to get out of the way and let young people engage in ‘Kujichagulia.’ That is to make ‘right choices’ for the survival of their generation, thereby defining America anew where justice knows only that which is just.”
This is the aspiration. It is an achievable goal. Millennials are the most evolved generation of African Americans to ever exist in America. Like their elders, far too many of them get distracted because they do not know the history of their evolution in America.
A case in point, the recent excerpt from a 2005 deposition given by Bill Cosby in a civil suit quickly focused black Americans away from the issue of “Black Lives Matter” and the Charleston Massacre.
I pointed this out to a millennial whom I have been mentoring for the past six years. He quickly rejected my efforts to focus his attention on the problem at hand. He retorted that his is an age of multitasking. How dare anyone suggest that a young person can not focus on multiple tasks at the same time, he seemed to say. I have also heard this theme from generation X members.
Multitasking has been around a long time – much longer than the millennial generation. I once was young and now I am old. One of the many things I have learned over time is that we tend to accomplish the things we focus our full attention upon. Multitasking does not lend itself to prioritizing. All projects tend to come in at the same time, with the same unspectacular results, and some with a short life span because they did not reach full maturity.
I was proud of my young apprentice last week when he rallied his generation to focus on the black church fires in spite of the fact that he and many of his friends are non believers. They had a lively social media discussion on “Black Lives Matter.”
Then this week his focus shifted to what is essentially, a legal battle between 29 white women, one black woman and Bill Cosby. Each of the women know that Cosby is not going to jail and the only thing they have to gain is money. In order to get lots of money out of Cosby’s pocket, they have to create a public perception that Cosby is not the man the public had come to love and respect.
With the aid of the media and a none thinking public, they are doing a good job of creating an image of Cosby as a bad black man who drugged white women so he could have sex with them. Perhaps he did, but we can not come to this conclusion without a trial on the merits of the women’s claims.
Usually, rich men pay for sex either with money, gifts or jobs. Guys who do not have money tend to rape by force or in the 21st century with what is known as a “date rape drug. ”
While my youthful prodigy is reacting to the media spin, he fails to do a little critical thinking. For instance, in the deposition Cosby admits that he gave medication to young women he intended to have sex with, but he does not say he gave them medication to incapacitate them so he could have sex with them. There is a big difference. The media and the accusers’ lawyer, Gloria Allred, would have the public believe that Cosby admitted to drugging the women in order to engage in unlawful sexual acts.
When the information is so skewered as to create a fact that does not exist, it is a distraction to give any attention to it, because the information can not lead anywhere close to the truth of what happened between Cosby and those women all those years ago.
In a nutshell, the Cosby matter boils down to 21st century allegations about events that occurred during the last quarter of the 20th century. These allegations must be viewed from the prism of 1970s sex and drug culture.
First, in the 1970s there was no such thing as a date rape drug. This phrase entered the lexicon in the last decade of the 20th century after the sexual revolution had ended. It was harder for young men to engage in sexual relations with young women. College kids would slip a sedative into a young coed’s drink at a party and gang rape her while she slept. Most mature men like active participation from the women they engage in bed. For immature men, it is all about the conquest; “whether sleep or drugged, I don’t care, I did it to her,” they tend to boast.
Also, the 1970s was a time period when young people of the age of Cosby and his alleged victims were turning away from the psychedelic drugs called “uppers” which tended to make the person hyperactive. They were turning to “downers” which placed the individual in a mellow mood. These “downers” were not used to incapacitate a person in order to have sex, but to enhance the sexual experience.
When you understand the sexual culture of the time period Cosby was testifying about, you can understand the context of his testimony that he gave medication to women he intended to engage in sexual activity. The intent was to enhance the experience, it was not to force the experience into existence.
We could very easily end these allegations here. But let us fast forward to the 21st century. What we have are 30 women who were as comfortable in the evolving sexual revolution of the 1970s as young people are comfortable with the age of multi-tasking.
“But Cosby joked about giving women Spanish Fly in one of his 1970s routine. That right there proves he did it,” non critical thinkers are quick to point out.
Indeed he did. So too did Redd Foxx. It was a common thing to joke about Spanish Fly in the 1970s. Moreover, Spanish Fly was not used to incapacitate an intended sexual partner, it was used to excite a passionate sexual encounter.
So these women spin their past 20th century life in the 21st century. They spin it as having been drugged in order to have sex. If you are going to pay attention to this story, at least do a little critical thinking to understand the culture that fostered these 21st century allegations.
I will hazard a guess, that the reason these 30 women did not bother to cry rape in the 1970s is that their active participation in the sex and drugs was the cultural way of their times. Now, today they want to have Dr. Cosby judged by 21st century standards for acts that were understood by the participants at the time as acceptable taboo behavior.
Perhaps Cosby settled the 2005 civil suit because he wanted to keep his risque behavior away from his family and his fans. Many famous people settle suits in this manner. It happens more frequently than we know. Many never get to court.
This is the Cosby story in a nutshell. Those white women need your help to take money out of the pocket of Bill Cosby. Stop paying attention to these non-investigative news stories and the news stories along with the women will disappear as a topic of discussion. I promised you it will happen overnight. Before long you will have forgotten why you stopped liking Jello Pudding.
BlackLivesMatter needs your attention, energy, and your mental multi-tasking acumen in order to survive the perils of the 21st century. I dare say, that you need your mental multi-tasking acumen to survive race and justice in America.
I’m getting old. I can only do so much today. If we are to survive as a people, as a nation; we need young people to understand the past as much as they understand the present. We need young people to focus like a laser on race and justice in America. If the current generation does not, we all will end up multi-tasked out of the American pie.
I just have to shake my head at this generation. This is a smart generation. The best generation ever produced by African Americans on these shores, yet a generation, like far too many of their elders, easily distracted by nonessential issues.
Harold Michael Harvey, is the author of the legal thriller “Paper Puzzle,” and “Justice in the Round: Essays on the American Jury System,” available at Amazon and at haroldmichaelharvey.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org