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Some obsessed with defending R. Kelly instead of holding him accountable

by Tanesha Peeples
Some obsessed with defending R. Kelly instead of holding him accountable
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I don’t know what’s in the water this year but it ain’t accountability because people are still adamant about defending R&B artist and pedophile, R. Kelly

As a matter of fact, they might be as delusional as the people who think the Capitol insurrectionists were in Washington D.C. on January 6th just taking a walk.

Listen, I’m a Chicagoan and at some point, most of us considered R. Kelly our fake cousin. That’s how much we loved this entertainer.

My classmates and I sang R. Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly at our eighth grade graduation in 1999.

Kelly and I went to the same high school except he graduated years before I arrived. But during my off-campus lunch period, I’d see the Pied Piper pull up to our campus in a limousine to recruit teenage girls for his mansion parties.  

At the time, my friends and I thought nothing of it because the culture of dating older men was popular and hey, he was a celebrity. Who didn’t want to party with Kells?

We turned up to R. Kelly’s songs in college. I had his entire catalog on my Ipod. And even when accusations of abuse started flowing in the early 2000s, we still partied and listened to his music because honestly, we wanted to despite knowing what we knew.

Singer and convicted sexual predator R. Kelly will appear before a judge today where he could be sentenced to life in prison.

FILE – R. Kelly appears during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago, Sept. 17, 2019. R&B legend R. Kelly is entering another phase of his well-publicized downward spiral with a sentencing in a New York City courtroom Wednesday, June 29, 2022, that could put him behind bars for a quarter century or more. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool, File)

R. Kelly knew what he was doing

Chalk our continued fandom up to immaturity, celebrity mesmerization, nostalgia, selfishness or all of the above. But at some point, we all have to acknowledge the fact that this man knowingly abused these women. And, him being an adorned entertainer doesn’t absolve him of his crimes. 

We can have empathy for someone like R. Kelly who was sexually abused at a very young age. Yet, that empathy has to turn into accountability when the abused becomes the abuser. 

  1. R. Kelly knew what he was doing. He married late singer Aaliyah at the age of 15 in 1994 and falsified documents to hide her real age. And even after being arrested in 2003 for possession of child pornography but ultimately acquitted in 2008, he didn’t stop.

Fourteen years later, after catching a 30 year prison sentence for sex trafficking and possibly facing more time when he goes to trial in Chicago, people still want to point the finger at everyone and everything else – the survivors, their parents, Kelly’s abuser, racism etc. – and not the man himself.

His music doesn’t justify defending him

What I’ve noticed on the surface is, people are on social media riding hard for Kells because they want to make themselves feel better about continuing to listen to his music.

Undoubtedly, if you’re a millennial or even a Chicagoan, R. Kelly’s music was probably an instrumental part to the soundtrack of your life. I’m definitely in both categories. Nonetheless, at no point in the past couple of years could I listen to him singing “It seems like you’re ready” without thinking/knowing he’s talking about an underaged girl.

But hey, to each their own. If you want to continue listening to his music and make an announcement about it, feel free. However, attempting to justify his actions or, worse, blame the survivors for the trauma he caused them is disgusting and irresponsible as hell.

Also, it’s sad to see folx in the Black and Brown community defend this man when the truth of the matter is, most of his survivors were Black and Brown girls.

Arguments like “Those girls knew what they were doing” and “Oh, she looked like a ho anyway” do nothing but feed into the long-standing objectification and hypersexualization of Black and Brown girls. 

  1. Kelly’s victims that were held hostage, forced to perform sexual acts and taken across state lines without permission from their parents are in the same category of 58 percent of Black girls that are sex trafficked in the United States. Are they ho’s? Did they know what they were doing?

Perpetuating this notion that they’re less innocent and more adult-like, more independent and know more about sex makes them more vulnerable to being taken advantage of by adult predators. But people don’t consider that unless or until it happens to them or someone they love.

So take away R. Kelly’s fame and what do you have? Robert Kelly–a man who sexually abused handfuls of young people and built a criminal enterprise to do so. 

If he were not R&B superstar R. Kelly, people would not be pressed to defend him. In fact, they’d want to see him under the jail–especially if it were their daughter, niece, nephew or sister who was victimized.

Do what you’re going to do–listen to his music, whatever. But what we’re not going to do is let R. Kelly and people like him keep getting away with abusing children, no matter what their net worth is. Their lives are more valuable than the entertainment he brought to ours.

1 comment

R. Kelly faces federal trial on charges of child porn and obstruction August 15, 2022 - 10:28 am

[…] trial is expected to resurface accusations brought against Kelly, 14 years ago in a state trial on charges of child pornography for which he […]

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