I made a decision to not write about R. Kelly.
However, after reading social media comments from those who watched (and didn’t) the docuseries, “Surviving R. Kelly,” I couldn’t keep my word.
I couldn’t keep my word because people continue to place blame at the feet of the girls. The most confusing part is many times it’s Black women who are blaming the victims and defending Kelly. It’s a notion the womanist in me can’t tolerate so I have to speak on it.
For the life of me I can’t understand why Black women give this man a pass to prey on US because he’s a “musical genius.” These are our daughters, nieces, sisters, granddaughters, cousins, etc.
Let me be clear, Black men shouldn’t victim blame either, but I expect more from Black women who know how it feels to be sexualized as a teen because your body has the curves of an adult. Women who know they did stupid things as a teen and went unscathed. Women who know they made some mistakes as a teen and paid a dear price. Women who know the things you think are cute at 15 often aren’t when you’re 35 or 40.
Because this man can sing and make good music, he’s more valuable than our girls? I just don’t get it. It makes me sick, and frankly, quite livid. I read comments from women who still plan to go to his concerts and buy his music. They keep saying, “if he did it.” What do you mean if? How much more proof do you need? He married a 15-year-old Aaliyah with a forged license. That girl called a grown man her “best friend” on national TV while they wore matching outfits. Where do they do that at? If that wasn’t enough, he urinated in a child’s mouth! It’s on tape. Still not enough? People from the Gary and Chicago area can tell you countless stories of him hanging around his old high school and frequenting malls, picking up teenage girls.
This staunch defense of Kelly and blaming the victims is indicative of a larger problem. We don’t value ourselves. The only reason why Kelly has been able to get away with this for so long is because Black girls and women are his target. I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it until proven otherwise, no one cares about Black girls and women. No one. Not even us. If we did, this behavior would’ve ended years ago. And not just for the rich and famous.
Oh, there would be outrage if the victims were Black boys. No one would say, “they knew what they were doing,” “they want to be grown,” or call them “fast.” None of that matters. And if it does, you’re telling me that because you think you’re grown, you’re fast or knew you were talking to a grown man, you deserve to be raped, molested, held captive and abused? Seriously?
The truth is Kelly is the adult. He has the power. The girls think like teenagers no matter how grown they may act. Their brains aren’t even fully developed so to expect these girls to make sound adult decisions is unfair. It’s common for adults to manipulate other adults — and Kelly did that, too — so how can you expect a child to defend herself against his manipulative and controlling ways?
Another common refrain I noticed was Black men basically saying this is what the girls get for chasing after a grown man. They recalled how in their teenage years many of the girls in their peer group dated adults. So. Sour grapes, maybe? That doesn’t make it right. Teen girls are going to do stupid things. They’re going to think they’re grown. They may indeed be “fast.” They are still children and incapable of understanding the full consequences of their actions. The grown men they’re chasing are (one more time for the people in the back) MEN!
It’s well past time we stop giving these grown men a pass for having sex with children.