Since numerous allegations of sexual assault have come forth against Bill Cosby over the past year, fans of The Cosby Show have found themselves grappling with conflicting emotions. The cover of Ebony Magazine’s November issue brings these complex thoughts to light —what exactly are fans supposed to do when their beloved pop culture icon has fallen from grace due to disturbing charges made towards the real-life actor?

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The photograph on the cover depicts Bill Cosby posing with his fictional brood, his face in the center of shattered glass. An excerpt from the story asks, “If Bill Cosby is finished, what does that mean for Cliff, and the rest of the tribe called Huxtable?” The magazine has not yet hit newsstands, but is already causing controversy on social media, according to USA Today. Critics and fans are divided, showing both support and disappointment of the magazine’s decision to bring the subject to the forefront for black Americans.

Kierna Mayo, Ebony’s Editor-in-Chief, appeared on CNN to discuss the cover, admitting she hadn’t slept in days due to anxiety. Mayo, who has been at her position for five months, said the decision for the cover was the “need to deviate from looking at a celebrity through a modern lens.” She continued, “The bottom line is this is an urgent conversation we’re having in black America. It was going to happen whether we did this or not.”

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Mayo said the cover was not an attempt to mean any harm, but is simply reacting to the “fact that this fracture has happened.” “We must ask the big loaded question,” said Mayo. “Can we, should we, separate the man from the fictional character who we all exalted, loved, needed, and in some respects, worshiped the idea, the notion behind?”

Cosby’s TV son, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, recently appeared on The View, sharing his thoughts on the legacy of The Cosby show being tarnished. “When we’ve had images that perpetuate the negative stereotype of people of color we’ve always had The Cosby Show to hold up against that,” said Warner. “The fact that we no longer have that kind of leaves us not in a great place in terms of having the wide scope of images of people of color.”


Contact the author at marie.lodi@jezebel.com.