As a Black Gen X-er I have a difficult relationship with Bill Cosby.

My parents loved his comedy albums. He helped teach me how to read. We ate Jell-O Pudding Pops ‘cause of The Cos. The first time I saw cartoons of children who looked like me was Fat Albert. Vanessa Huxtable and I were the same age. Theo and I both went to NYU.

When the first assault allegations against Cosby surfaced back in 2004, I took them seriously. Gen X was among the first to talk openly about sexual harassment and date rape. I believe women. When Cosby was sent to prison in 2018 for three felony counts of aggravated sexual assault, I was sad because he was elderly. But when he was released in June after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his conviction, I was angry.

Comedian and filmmaker W. Kamau Bell’s docuseries, We Need to Talk About Cosby, squarely addresses the fact that most Black Gen Xers grew up enjoying Cosby but are now ashamed of him, and grapples with how to reckon with the totality of Cosby’s influence. Currently streaming on Showtime, the four-part documentary debuted at the Sundance Festival on Jan. 22 . It joins a collection of recent documentaries that spotlight the people, places, and events that shaped Gen X culture, including Lifetime’s Janet Jackson, Showtime’s You Are Watching Video Music Box, and Hulu’s Summer of Soul, produced by Roots drummer, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson.

“If you had a dinner party and invited your smart, funny, politically aware friends: comedians, social activists, journalists, cultural tastemakers, [that] weird friend who knows all about drugs, and you said, ‘Let’s talk about Cosby,’ this is the conversation we would have,” Bell said.

In interviews with Bell, Columbia University journalism professor and MSNBC commentator Jelani Cobb; sports journalist and lifestyle personality Jemele Hill, and former Ebony magazine editor Kierna Mayo all remembered the good Cosby has done — his philanthropy and advocacy for Black colleges, championing education.

Bell talked to Calvin Brown, Cosby’s stunt double on I Spy, Hollywood’s first Black stunt actor, who reminds us that Cosby fought to have Black actors replace white stuntmen in blackface.

But everyone he interviews is also acutely aware that more than 60 women came forward and accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them.

Philadelphia intellectuals also weigh in. Women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred and activist Sonalee Rashatwar condemned Cosby. Marc Lamont Hill, Temple University professor and owner of Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books, recalled Cosby getting “real North Philly” with him after giving a speech that criticized Cosby. Annette John-Hall, who hosted WHYY’s popular podcast Cosby Unraveled, said Cosby broke Black America’s heart when he delivered his infamous Pound Cake speech, blaming the problems of Black America on Black people rather than on systemic racism. The speech became a conservative talking point.

I talked to Bell about Cosby’s complicated legacy. The answers have been edited for clarity.

Now that We Need to Talk About Cosby is out in the world, how do you feel?

It’s still heavy. Jemele [Hill, a contributing writer for the Atlantic] called it the deep Black girl sigh. I always have the deep Black boy sigh every time I think about it. I feel excited that people are coming to this discussion the way I invited them to it. There are people who had a need for this conversation and didn’t know, or knew it but didn’t think there would ever be an opportunity to have such a conversation in a public way — especially Black folks. I know there is a segment of the population — some of them are Black people — who are never going to want to associate with me again. And there are those people in my audience who are removing themselves from my audience.

» READ MORE: What Black Philadelphians see in the Cosby verdict

What does this documentary mean to you?

For me this is super-personal. I’m a Black man born into the meat of Cosby’s rising career. As a child, he was making content for me. I’m watching Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids. I’m watching Picture Pages. I’m watching Electric Company. He’s on commercials airing during the shows I watch. I’m just following the bouncing Cosby. And as a kid who loves comedy, Bill Cosby was one of the highest forms of the art. So for me having all of these personal connections, it meant a lot to me.

Why was it important for you to include Black women in this documentary?

When I first came to this, I thought [all of the victims] were white women, too. But one-third of these women were Black women and there had to be more who didn’t come forward: Why would they when they saw how poorly other Black women were treated? And even as conflicted as Black women were — Jemele Hill, Kierna Mayo, Renée Graham of the Boston Globe, Annette John-Hall — these were the women who gave me the quickest yesses. Once Black women got in the conversation, they weren’t “scurred.” They decided: ‘Even though I know this is not going to create more safety in the world for me to have this conversation, I’m still gonna have it.’

Why was it important mention the urban legend that Cosby was targeted because he wanted to buy NBC?

This is where being a Black filmmaker comes in. I was aware that this was a part of the conversation the Black community was having. When we got the film into shape, I had to figure out, how do I do this? I talked to Marc Lamont Hill and Jelani Cobb, and they [showed us] how it just didn’t make sense. There is a way in which Cosby is universal, but there are very specific ways that he is a Black man.

Do you still have more questions?

My only question is, ‘how do we create a society that prioritizes the safety of women in America, — and then specifically, Black women — so that if you are sexually assaulted or raped you feel invited to tell your story? You feel invited to healing, and you feel there are mechanisms that give you some measure of justice. That doesn’t exist now.