Black Twitter is profoundly divided over the fall of a Queen. Is the precipitous fall of Phylicia Rashad a permanent thing or merely a misstep in an otherwise glorious career in the arts? Rashad recently received her third consecutive Emmy nomination for This Is Us, which suggests that this may be a passing phase. Over the last month, Phylicia Rashad, Dean of Howard’s Chadwick Boseman College of Fine Arts, weighed in on the overturned sexual assault conviction of her former boss and friend, Bill Cosby. Siding with a perceived predator was not – how does one say it? – Rashad’s most distinguished career move. Academic Deans are entrusted with the safety of their students, after all. And the Howard University gender breakdown, we cannot fail to note, is 68 percent women and roughly 31 percent men. Taking up Bill Cosby’s side of the argument is not a good look in academia.
Dean Rashad has since apologized for the now deleted tweet. Her appointment started July 1st of this year and the infamous tweet occurred almost immediately after her first official day on the job.
But does it heal the damage already caused? Phylicia Rashad’s apology arrived on June 30. “I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward,” she tweeted. “My post was in no way intended to be insensitive to their truth. Personally, I know from friends and family that such abuse has lifelong residual effects. My heartfelt wish is for healing.” And after that apology, her account has remained — curiously — silent. Howard University, also, responded on Twitter.
That the Dean of the College of Fine Arts at the most prestigious historically black college in America would stand with a convicted sexual abuser over his sixty women accusers is a truly remarkable event. It is remarkably tone deaf, considering also that the school is majority female.