I stopped supporting R. Kelly a long time ago. After watching the documentary, “Surviving R. Kelly,” I could not believe how severe the abuse is/was. The way he preys on little girls to the way he treated his wife is/was beyond sickening. Besides the fact he is a disgusting person, I couldn’t help but consider the numerous adults who failed these girls.
It baffled me how many adults, including their parents, enabled and continue to allow his sick behavior to continue. Then, we have the black community blaming the victims, expecting teenage girls to rationalize like adults.
The only people to blame here are the adults including the parents who were present and did nothing. Yet, we continue to say things like, she knew what kind of man he was, she put herself in that position or she had it coming with those little, short dresses she always wore to church. If you make excuses for R. Kelly or blame the women, you are the person who sits on the sideline and allow this to continue. I feel sorry for your daughters, your nieces or any little girl listening to you defend this sad excuse for a man. Because your sorry rhetoric only confirms she can never tell you it happened to her too. After all, why would she?
It is deeper than R. Kelly though.
There is an alarmingly higher rate of sexual abuse of black women. According to a study conducted Black Women’s Blueprint, 60% of black girls experienced sexual abuse at the hands of black men before reaching the age of 18.
In addition, there is a code of silence in the black community that continues to haunt us today. We don’t like to talk about abuse. We rather sweep it under the rug and pretend it did not happen.
Think about it, how many children did not tell the family about the uncle who was touching all the little girls at the family gatherings. Some of the family knew about it, in fact, some of the little girls told. Yet, he was still invited to the family gatherings and reunions because he was the favorite uncle. Let’s talk about the youth pastor taking advantage of girls in his office. Church folk speculated it was happening, but no one wanted to expose him because his sermons were amazing and led new members to the church. Also, he visited members when they were sick, counseled and prayed with the family during hard times. What about the community leader doing so much for the community that you cover up the fact he molested little girls, thinking it would do more damage than good for the community as a whole.
In addition to the code of silence, there is an unspoken code for the black woman to protect the image of the black man at all cost. For example, in the article, “Sexual Abuse and The Code of Silence In The Black Community, “Cherise Charleswell discussed criticism surrounding the novels, “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker and “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison. In the 1980s both novels received backlash because they shed light on a black man abusing a black woman and getting away with it.
The criticism was not on the dismissal of abuse but rather the subsequent “bashing of black men and making them look bad under the public gaze.”
I recall the history behind the Civil Rights movement where black wives simply “put up” with their husbands’ infidelity and/or abuse because there was a more significant cause at stake. Recently, the Bill Cosby case where the black community, specifically black women supported him because of what he represented for us as a community, once again excusing his criminal actions and/or pretending they did not exist. And, now, R.Kelly, though a known problem since the ’90s. Yet, we still play his music on radio stations, attend his concerts and celebrate him as the “king of R&B.”
There needs to be understanding within our community and perhaps, an altering of the narrative that one black man does not represent all.
Thus, holding the sexual abusers accountable for their action without criminalizing “all” black men. At the end of the day, if we allow his status, what he has done for the community and his musical legacy to excuse his crimes, we fail our little girls, we fail black women, and we fail our community as a whole.
What are your thoughts on the documentary and the black code?