Well people, in the last few week's since Lifetime network released "Surviving R. Kelly", the internet has been running amok with memes, jokes, stories, and realizations. It's been very telling, to say the least. I haven't been too surprised at the outrage, being as though the stories were eerily reminiscent of those crazy, white sex cult documentaries featuring Jim Jones or Ted Bundy. I watched every episode, and although there were no murders, it was equally disturbing. Perhaps even more disturbing was the specific targeting of women (or girls, rather) of color. Each one between the ages of 12-19 years old.
The docuseries retold a story that was already pretty well known in the black community: R Kelly is a serial pedophile. The details revealed his tendencies of manipulative behavior, controlling tactics and constant abuse of power. Some new aspects were given through the victims accounts of what it was like living in "Robert's" home. He had abused, controlled and monitored them closely. It was some pretty cringe-worthy shit. As early as the 90's, and as recent as this year, hordes of young women fell prey to the "Pied Piper".
The worst part of the entire ordeal is the number of people who were fully aware of everything he was doing. They coddled him, enabled him, and satiated his hunger for barely-legal, easily-manipulated girls. His former manager went as far as admitting that he was an essential part of the ruse that was the R. Kelly/Aaliyah marriage. He forged documents that enabled the two to lie about Aaliyah's age. He even stated that the two had a pregnancy scare. As he recounted all the horrendous things he had helped R. Kelly do, I only wondered, would R Kelly have done as much as he was able to if people had simply refused to help him? Would it have reached the extend that it has? Probably not. He had a host of followers, supporters, employees and yes-men who would literally go to high schools to scope out girls for him, at his request. It was insane to hear that!
Even more insane was the fact that these young girls were in some cases unprotected by their families. They were handed over as collateral with the fleeting hope that they would be made stars. Using his power and influence as leverage, he had free reign over these girls, and little to no push-back from the masses. Several offenses were documented, many of them settled out of court. All he had to do was give an amount, and apparently, he'd never have to pay the price for anything he'd done.
He was untouchable, in a sense.
With all that being said, I was sure that the facts would set people straight. The facts that most, if not all of R. Kelly's earlier music had been inspired by the plethora of young women he had manipulated and slept with. The fact that he played on the naive nature of them all. Instead, his supporters have presented themselves yet again. I'm baffled, honestly. How could so many women of color, young or old, in good conscience, say that they support R Kelly?
The internet irrupted with snapshots of R Kelly albums from music platforms. Captions proudly boasting that they would "Always listen to R Kelly" and that "Bitches be lying." or that "Those little girls knew what they were doing." It literally disgusted me, for more reasons than one, but I'll keep it short.
The first thing that people have to realize, is that no matter how "fast" you want to call these young women, they'd never be "fast" enough to catch a man who refuses to engage with the under-aged. Secondly, no matter which stance you decide to take, you have to acknowledge that there are laws that exist, and they exist for a reason.
I found a quote from a Facebook friend to be quite fitting for those who needed to comprehend that fact:
"The statutory rape law specifically exists because children are mentally unfit to give consent and generally have less power over their will than an adult. Children are literally programmed to believe that adults have their best interest in mind both socially and biologically, because of that it's harder for a child to say no to an adult then it is an adult to say no to a child, that's what determines how much accountability a person has."
It seems redundant to have to mention these things to adults, but here we are. Fighting for people to understand that this CANNOT be the norm for treatment of black/brown girls. We cannot continue to be calloused to the way they are stripped of their innocence, looked at as adults from a very young age and expected to carry the weight of trauma, without stopping to heal themselves somewhere in the middle of it all.
And we CANNOT continue to support an artist who benefits from the manipulation of women and has been a known pedophile for decades. We like to think "we can separate his music from his real life."
But at what point do we stop to think about the longevity of the crimes? How could he have gotten away with it for so long? Honestly, the fans have played a major part. Let's think about it. How could a person be convinced that they are in fact a monster, when they still have so many people cheering them on, playing their songs, rallying against any bad word said against them? When you're still thriving in your craft, making a shit load of money, and throwing that money at any situation that isn't in your favor, how could you ever be worried?
Cancelling R Kelly is not just condemning him as a person, it's stopping the support of anything that helps him continue to thrive and have the means to continue his abuse and manipulation.
So, no Tanya, it's not okay that you're still bumping "Step In The Name of Love" on your drive home.
You have a daughter. It could've very well been her.
Fuck R. Kelly.