The Village Voice’s recent article exposing all of the heartbreaking and gory details of the multitude of rape allegations against R. Kelly has once again reignited the conversation around whether or not people should support the singer.
While R. Kelly has seemed to linger on the fringes, creating “safe” R&B music instead of his signature, sexed up songs, his latest album, Black Panties is a big F-U to the demons and critics of his past and signals his return to his hypersexual roots.
For the record, R. Kelly will never, ever, ever get one DIME of my money. Like, ever.
While I can rattle off the standard radio hits, I wasn’t a HUGE Kelly fan before, but he could literally cure cancer and HIV now and I would still never, ever buy his one of his albums again.
Well, fifteen years ago Kelly was embroiled in a scandal that found that the singer frequently targeted underage girls for sex, which was often documented on camera.
Many know about the young girl Kelly peed on during the infamous rape tape (no, not sex tape, people–rape) that went public, but according to the Voice there were DOZENS of others.
Here are a few of the horrible details, but I encourage you to read the article:
They were stomach churning. The one young woman, who had been 14 or 15 when R. Kelly began a relationship with her, detailed in great length, in her affidavits, a sexual relationship that began at Kenwood Academy: He would go back in the early years of his success and go to Lina McLin’s gospel choir class. She’s a legend in Chicago, gospel royalty. He would go to her sophomore class and hook up with girls afterward and have sex with them. Sometimes buy them a pair of sneakers. Sometimes just letting them hang out in his presence in the recording studio. She detailed the sexual relationship that she was scarred by. It lasted about one and a half to two years, and then he dumped her and she slit her wrists, tried to kill herself. Other girls were involved. She recruited other girls. He picked up other girls and made them all have sex together. A level of specificity that was pretty disgusting.
Her lawsuit was hundreds of pages long, and Kelly countersued. The countersuit was, like, 10 pages long: “None of this is true!” We began our reporting. We knocked on a lot of doors. The lawsuits, the two that we had found initially, had been settled. Kelly had paid the women and their families money and the settlements were sealed by the court. But of course, the initial lawsuits remain part of the public record.
Despite dozens of under age girls coming forward, witnesses, and a trial—R. Kelly was never charged or convicted of rape. He was charged and acquitted of distributing child pornography, but the other victims took their grievances to civil court and Kelly settled with them all.
But here’s the part that got me.
ALL of Kelly’s victims were young, black girls. And as Jim DeRogati, the journalist who has continued to keep this portion of Kelly’s history public, pointed out, it made them ripe for the picking.
The saddest fact I’ve learned is: Nobody matters less to our society than young black women. Nobody. They have any complaint about the way they are treated: they are “bitches, hos, and gold diggers,” plain and simple. Kelly never misbehaved with a single white girl who sued him or that we know of. Mark Anthony Neal, the African-American scholar, makes this point : one white girl in Winnetka and the story would have been different.
No, it was young black girls and all of them settled. They settled because they felt they could get no justice whatsoever. They didn’t have a chance.
Sadly, this is far too common. A 2011 study by the New York-based organization Black Women’s Blueprint found that nearly 60% of black girls have experienced sexual abuse, coercive sex, or inappropriate touching before the age of 18.
And for the larger American public, the statistics are just as startling.
According to RAINN—the Rape Abuse Incest National Network—every two minutes someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S., and every year there are nearly 240,000 assaults. Of those, 44% are people under the age of 18.
So while R. Kelly is clearly despicable and needs some serious help, this issue is BIGGER than him.
That’s where we come in.
While we should continue to hold Kelly, and perps like him, accountable for his actions, and while we continue to try to protect our children to the best of our abilities, we can also support organizations who do great work by helping young men and women deal with the scars of abuse.
If you’re like me and REFUSE to give R. Kelly a DIME, please consider donating the $10 you would have spent on an album to one of the organizations listed below that are working to help victims.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Please add the names and links to other organizations we should support in the comments section.