TW: Bill Cosby, Rape/Sexual Assault
As of late, Bill Cosby’s rape allegations have had a large presence in the media. When the first allegations came in, family members of mine refused to believe that they were true and cried out that they were just people that were trying to discredit the reputation of a successful black man. When more allegations started to pour in and support Bill Cosby’s sexual misconduct charges, family members stuck to their original idea and tried to paint it as a racial conspiracy. It was infuriating to hear all of this and I now have a stronger idea of the phenomenon after we learned about belief perseverance.
My family members were used to growing up with Bill Cosby as a strong inspirational figure, especially for the black community. He championed education and his show, The Cosby Show, was a mainstream television show that finally featured black main characters. They were finally able to envision themselves on television and loved it. Due to this, they have kept the idea that Bill Cosby is a wonderful role model for many. When news of his improprieties broke out, they wanted to maintain the belief that they had. They didn’t want to admit that one of the most renown black role models had a flaw, especially one as grave as sexual assault and rape. Thus, they ran with the idea that it was a conspiracy and that he had not been formally found guilty of the charges. This runs very true to the idea of belief perseverance; even if they were discredited by the myriad of people who spoke out against Cosby, they wanted to hold on to their beliefs about his good nature since the evidence was “mixed.” Although I still disagree with their belief perseverance, it has been interesting to see this more from a social psychology lens rather than just thinking of it as ignorance.