When “The Cosby Show” aired for the first time in the ‘80s, America was amazed by the image of a beautiful black family led in married partnership by the gorgeous Clair Huxtable. America back then was bombarded with myths of blackness like the “welfare queen” and armies of crack heads. While these portrayals of black people were accepted eagerly, the image of Clair Huxtable was deemed an impossible fiction by whites and blacks alike.
Twenty-five years later, the image of Clair Huxtable has become a reality. What seemed impossible is now being lived by black women with incredible accomplishments and the love to go with it. Let’s salute some of the awesome ladies who are living that dream. They prove a black woman can have it all. These are The New Clair Huxtables:
First Lady Michelle Obama
We of course see Clair Huxtable exemplified in the life of Michelle Obama. First Lady Michelle Obama is the dream of Clair Huxtable fulfilled on steroids. A professional black woman, with a loving husband and beautiful family who is also the First Lady of the United States? It boggles the mind.
Today we take the solid union between Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith for granted. We enjoy watching their talented, grounded children grow up. We take collective pride in their public acts of philanthropy. The Smiths portray African American family values for this century, with Jada as the family’s heart.
The same can be said of Holly Robinson-Peete, whose marriage to Rodney Peete augments her accomplishments as a public figure. The couple is a force to reckon with in the sphere of charity, but it is Holly’s charm that powers the giving efforts of the happy pair.
Black model-turned-lifestyle entrepreneur B. Smith leads the public in matters of taste — another idea that would have seemed absurd in the early eighties. It’s easy to imagine that when Clair was cooking it up in a kitchen that was nicer than most people’s living rooms, that she was also laying the foundation for Smith’s later career as a domestic goddess. Smith also works closely with her husband.
Judge Lynn Toler
Judge Lynn Toler of the popular show “Divorce Court” resembles what Clair Huxtable might have become if “The Cosby Show” had gone on for a couple more seasons. A seasoned member of the legal profession who lives with her two teen sons and husband of 17 years, Toler is also a published writer. She has touched millions through her writings, her show, and during her career as a compassionate real-world judge.
Beyonce (if you overlook the rump-shaking in bodysuits), with her professional success, married status and dedication to her immediate family, also carries forth the torch of Clair. She shows the world that African American women are gorgeous, talented, industrious, accomplished and – most of all – fun. Never taking the “black best friend” or asexual sidekick role often reserved for black women in mainstream entertainment, Beyonce shows and proves that a black woman can be the star of her own show.
Mara Brock Akil
Stunning Mara Brock Akil is the creator of both “Girlfriends” and “The Game,” two shows that dared to depict black women as sexy, sophisticated and in control – while searching for and finding true love. Brock Akil is not only a successful writer and producer; she is also the married mother of two sons. Mara is currently partnering with her director husband on a movie project under their own production banner to bring more powerful images of women to light.
Pretty Paula Patton met hubby Robin Thicke when they were in high school, just like Heathcliff and Clair. A charming woman who gives sensitive and deep performances, it is easy to imagine Patton having the long and esteemed career that Phylicia Rashād has enjoyed. Now expecting the couple’s first child, Paula demonstrates admirably that real love can last as couples grow together in the public eye.
As half of the duo behind the hit Food Network show “Down Home with the Neelys,” Gina Neely works closely with her husband Patrick to bring one of the most beloved aspects of black culture to mainstream audiences – all the pleasures of Southern cuisine. “The Cosby Show” never shied away from mixing our African American roots into the fabric of every episode. Gina continues this tradition in television through partnering with her husband on a show that is a true celebration of black life.
As the on-screen love of Martin Lawrence on the hit series “Martin,” Tisha Campbell-Martin followed directly in the footsteps of a character like Clair Huxtable while giving her take on it an urban flair. In her personal life, Campbell-Martin resembles Clair Huxtable in more ways than one. Tisha has been partnered with her husband Duane Martin for 19 years and married to him for 14. Having recently welcomed their second child into the world, the longevity of their devoted relationship is like the cherry on top of their productive careers. Campbell-Martin is yet another fabulous black woman who has done it all in her professional life, while having everything her heart desires at home.
It’s clear that the character of Clair Huxtable laid the groundwork in the public imagination for the acceptance of many of today’s well-rounded, African-American female stars. These women and many more are taking center stage as the flesh and blood realizations of Clair’s promise, while showing that there are even better things to come from women in the black community.
Who are some other brilliant black women living the dream of Clair Huxtable in reality?