There has been a variety of reactions from celebrities and journalists about the Surviving R. Kelly Documentary that premiered on Lifetime last week. As I stated previously on my Instagram story, I am not shocked nor am I appalled about his behaviors over the last like 20 years of his career. There has been numerous rumors of R. Kelly manipulating and having sex with underage women. I place most of the blame on R. Kelly for his actions and his continuous attitude towards these victims. Now, he has attempted to sue Lifetime in order to discredit these survivors. It’s disgusting.
For the black community the greater significance of this R. Kelly documentary is the protection of black women and the silence of sexual abuse and pedophilia. To me, it seems like many people on social media are not only discrediting the lives and experiences of black women, but they are also turning a blind eye to sexual abuse. In the black community it is a conversation that is not talked about enough and it needs to be. We often joke about that uncle in our family that can’t be left alone with our children and we laugh it off. We simply cannot do that and we need to hold everyone accountable. If you watched the documentary, there were many people around R. Kelly who basically let these black women down by brushing it off and making excuses like “that’s his preference”. Well his preference is illegal. But I digress, as black kings and queens we have to look out for one another and we need to be livid when situations like this happen. The need for dialogue about sexual abuse in the black community is necessary and it invites everyone to be vulnerable and real about their life experiences.
Moreover, R. Kelly is a part of the problem but society is as well. Society has taught people to dehumanize black women but also steal and benefit off of our looks, ideas, and intellect. The things black women go through and have been going through is usually dismissed and it needs to stop. Black women are the reason why R. Kelly, Chris Brown, Tank, and other artists garner a lot of attention and money. Society wants to emulate and use us, but not protect us. It’s not acceptable and it won’t be tolerated from me. Furthermore, I was a bit bothered and disappointed with Chance the Rapper’s reaction to the stories about R. Kelly. Chance said in an interview that, “making a song with R. Kelly was a mistake. I didn’t value the accusers’ stories, like, because they were black women. I made a mistake”. Although he is being honest with all of us, it shifts the focus from R. Kelly to the greater issue at hand that I stated previously which is the protection of black women. The survivors are black women and because they are black their stories are not taken seriously. If this was a group of white women, R. Kelly would have been in jail already, no questions asked.
Essentially, we can get mad at R. Kelly all day and keep talking about him, but the black community’s focus needs to be on protecting black women at all costs.
If the rest of the world won’t protect us, our black men need to. For real.
Together, we strive to build a self- sufficient ecosystem of Black Girlhood that radically fights facism and far- right misogynoir, and politically advocates for Black women and girls. ACO STYLES primarily serves young girls of color from adolescents to emerging adults in the Greater Boston Area.