What happened to Bill Cosby on Tuesday is both a triumph and a tragedy.
It's a triumph because his sentence of three to 10 years sends a message to men everywhere that regardless of their wealth or position, it's not OK to drug and sexually assault women. It's also a reminder to all would-be predators that their actions have serious consequences, some of which may not occur until years later.
But it's a tragedy for those among us who once admired Cosby and all that he represented. He really had us duped. We thought of him as America's Dad. We naively confused his Dr. Huxtable persona on The Cosby Show for the real Cosby. We bought into his Jell-O pudding, family-man persona.
In reality, Cosby was a sick pervert who slipped the country a mickey the way he did to Andrea Constand at his Cheltenham mansion that night in 2004 when he drugged the young woman, leaving her defenseless to his sexual advances.
Oh, we had plenty of glimpses over the years that the comedian who broke color barriers by becoming the first African American to star in a weekly TV drama wasn't the nice guy he pretended to be. We heard his voice drip with derision when criticizing certain black people for allowing their pants to sag, for speaking slang, and for giving their children unusual names.
But we overlooked the elitist side of his personality because he was the Cos. He did so much for the culture. Cosby contributed millions to black colleges and universities. He made collecting black art cool, and showed white America both on screen and off that two-parent, upper-middle-class black homes exist.
I hated seeing Cosby in shirtsleeves with his hands handcuffed in front of him as officers escorted him through the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown. He was chained like a common criminal.
I take no joy in seeing another black man brought down.
In fact, I secretly didn't want Cosby locked up. Even though he brought it on himself, I kept hoping the former funnyman would be allowed to remain free on appeal or somehow die in his sleep before it got to this. At 81, he's old and legally blind. He looks sickly. He's been shamed and humiliated. Being stripped of all his honorary degrees and the buildings named after him is almost punishment enough.
But then I remember Constand. She deserves to see her rapist punished to the fullest extent of the law. I hope Tuesday's sentencing provided her some much-needed healing and closure. Same for the many other Cosby accusers, whose cases never went to trial but who say they have been similarly hurt. They should be commended for speaking out.
Partly because of them, women everywhere are finding their voices. They're emerging from the shadows and telling their stories. They're fighting back. They're not being shamed. Their daughters are taking note. The men whose names have been associated with the #MeToo movement should be frightened. The tide has shifted. It's a new day, and that's a wonderful thing.
I just wish it wasn't a black man who was the new poster boy for the movement. I wish it wasn't Bill Cosby.