The Naked Truth/Jamala Rogers
It’s Past Time to Mute R. Kelly
The main reason R. Kelly is not where Bill Cosby is — a convicted felon — has everything to do with the race and age of Kelly’s victims. Black girls.
Black girls who’ve been sexually objectified and deemed worthless in our society.
The only thing worse that a sexual predator is a child sexual predator. And R. Kelly is calculating about how he selects his starstruck victims, how
he manipulates and abuses them and ultimately when and how he dumps them.
R. Kelly’s lust for young girls first surfaced in 1996 with his marriage to 15-year-old Aaliyah, an up-and-coming recording star; her parents quickly
had the marriage annulled.
Kelly faced no charges until a sex tape involving an under-age girl was sent to the Chicago Sun Times in 2002. The Times’ investigation led to 21
counts of child pornography. The recording artists managed to slip through the jaws of justice with a jury’s acquittal.
The accusations of statutory rape, rape, drugging, child pornography and assault have long plagued Kelly’s lucrative career. There have even been
allegations of a sex cult run by Kelly where girls are trained as sex pets. Public records show that several law suits were settled but the women
were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements.
The talented songwriter and producer had a lot going for him that keeps him shielded from the law. The two-time Grammy winner has sold 33
million albums worldwide which meant that RCA (his record company) has no moral interest in holding Kelly accountable. His loyal fans are tone
deaf to the years of allegations. Friends in the entertainment business looked the other way.
The #MuteRKelly campaign was launched last year by Kenyette Barnes and
Oronike Odeleye. Their goal is reflected by the hashtag: A “complete and
total mute” of Kelly’s career. None of his music on the radio, no streaming,
no concerts. The campaign has since converged with the #MeToo and
#TimesUp movements to form a powerful fist that is going to make R Kelly
wish he was “Locked in a Closet,” the title of one of his hit songs.
#MuteRKelly is seeing some success. Recently, Kelly was booted off the
line-up of the Love Jam Concert in Chi-Town amidst protests. The Detroit
City Council endorsed the campaign. High profile people like Ava DuVernay
and John Legend have thrown their support to the campaign, which
demands a criminal investigation into the sexual allegations.
A BBC Three documentary, R Kelly: Sex, Girls and Videotapes was released
this Spring, throwing fuel on the fires surrounding him. Lifetime has
announced that its plans to probe the lurid life of Kelly in two projects, a
documentary series and a feature length movie. His dirty secrets are being
brought to light in a real public way. Survivors of his abuse will get to share
To date, Kelly’s tour consists of one concert. It looks like there’ll be a
different kind of welcoming committee waiting for him this weekend in
Greensboro, NC. He is taking some substantial hits as a predator but he’s
not down for the count. Yet.
We must fight for justice for our Black girls even if the courts refuse to charge
Kelly for his criminal behaviors. We can make financial justice just as painful.
It’s past time to put Kelly on mute. It’s time to hold him and others
accountable for their despicable actions. It’s time to look our Black girls in
the eye and tell them they’re worth fighting for. Because Black girls matter.