Did Bill Cosby’s ‘Pound Cake’ Speech Help Lead To His Downfall?

Written by Ann Brown

Did Bill Cosby’s posturing as the moral compass for Black people contribute to his downfall? It seems it probably did, suggests writer Adam Serwer in Atlantic Magazine.

Cosby’s own words came back to bite him 14 years later. Back in 2004, Cosby delivered what came to be known as the “pound cake” speech at an NAACP event. The speech blasted Black people for not taking responsibility for their actions. Many thought it was condescending. The speech painted Black people as stupid, so stupid they get shot, said Cosby, over trying to steal a piece of pound cake.

“People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake! Then we all run out and are outraged, ‘The cops shouldn’t have shot him.’ What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?” Cosby said in his NAACP speech. “Ladies and gentlemen, in our cities and public schools we have 50 percent drop out. In our own neighborhood, we have men in prison. No longer is a person embarrassed because they’re pregnant without a husband. No longer is a boy considered an embarrassment if he tries to run away from being the father of the unmarried child.”

According to Cosby, Black people were “fighting hard to be ignorant.” He also unleashed a verbal assault on unwed Black women, who he claimed were “having children by five, six different men.”

Ironically, out of public view Cosby was committing the crimes he is now convicted of. Andrea Constand, who first met Cosby in 2002 when she was the director of operations for Temple University’s women’s basketball, said that same year Cosby “drugged and assaulted her at his home in Pennsylvania. Her allegations attracted some media attention but were largely ignored, as were the allegations of other women who had shared stories of incidents with Cosby,” Vox reported.

A year later, in 2005, Constand’s accusations became public and led to the current charges against him. In all, 14 women accused Cosby of assault, but due to his wholesome public image, many say, these accusations were not believed–even though in a deposition Cosby admitted to police that he did drug women before having sex with them. After all, this was beloved sitcom dad Cliff Huxtable, the funny host of “Kids Say The Darndest Things,” and the pudding pops TV pitchman.

That was before the #MeToo movement.

The allegations resurfaced about a decade later when in February 2014, Gawker’s Tom Scocca wrote: “Basically nobody wanted to live in a world where Bill Cosby was a sexual predator.” Next came a public skewering of Cosby by comedian Hannibal Buress.

“Bill Cosby has the fuckin’ smuggest old Black man persona that I hate,” Buress said during an October 2014 stand-up session in Philadelphia. “He gets on TV, ‘Pull your pants up Black people, I was on TV in the ’80s! I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom!’ Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches.”

By July 2015 the world was talking about the allegations and by then at least 50 women had stepped forward. The Cosby’s “pound cake” words came back to haunt him. When a judge ruled on “a request filed by the Associated Press decided to unseal 2005 depositions of Cosby from a lawsuit filed by Constand in which he acknowledged obtaining sedatives to use on women he wanted to ‘have sex’ with. The judge, Eduardo C. Robreno, wrote that Cosby’s decision to present himself as a moral paragon had affected his decision about whether the documents were of public interest,” The Atlantic reported. The judge threw back the image Cosby portrayed versus the “real” man.

“The stark contrast between Bill Cosby, the public moralist, and Bill Cosby, the subject of serious allegations concerning improper (and perhaps criminal) conduct, is a matter as to which the AP—and by extension the public —has a significant interest,” Robreno wrote in his decision.

Having “donned the mantle of public moralist and mounted the proverbial electronic or print soap box to volunteer his views on, among other things, childrearing, family life, education, and crime,” he wrote, Cosby had “voluntarily narrowed the zone of privacy that he is entitled to claim.”

The formal indictment of Cosby came in December. Now, after being found guilty Cosby could face up to 30 years in prison. And his legacy has been forever tarnished.

Bill Cosby at the Montgomery County Courthouse during Jury Deliberations Day 1 in Norristown
Featuring: Bill Cosby Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States When: 23 Apr 2018
Credit: W.Wade/WENN