Jewel Allison, one of the women who has accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault, says she was worried about telling her story because she was concerned about what the reaction would be from the black community.
"His accusers - mostly white, so far - have faced retaliation, humiliation and skepticism by coming forward. As an African American woman, I felt the stakes for me were even higher," Allison writes in The Washington Post. "Historic images of black men being vilified en masse as sexually violent sent chills through my body. Telling my story wouldn't only help bring down Cosby; I feared it would undermine the entire African American community."
Allison claims that Cosby drugged and raped her after she went to dinner with him in the 1980s, and struggled with reconciling her experience with him with the perception she had of him as Dr. Huxtable on The Cosby Show.
"I felt a certain instinct to protect Cosby," she writes. "As I vomited in the backseat of the taxi that Cosby ushered me into after he assaulted me one night in the late 1980s, that Dr. Huxtable image no longer made sense. I felt both physically violated and emotionally bamboozled. Still, I didn't want the image of Dr. Huxtable reduced to that of a criminal."
Allison says she asked several friends for advice about whether or not to come forward and was told by at least one that Cosby was just the latest in a long line of black male victims. But she eventually decided to take her accusations public.
"I knew that, in my reluctance to add my assault to the allegations facing Cosby, I was allowing race to trump rape," Allison writes. "Cosby was once a source of hope for many African Americans. But fictional icons like him should not wield so much power over our collective spirit."
Read Allison's full essay here.