Once you enjoy a song, it's hard to stop. I get it. "Ignition" and "I Believe I Can Fly" are two undeniably iconic songs. It's going to be hard for me to ever stop associating those songs with positive memories. Across the nation, there are women and girls for whom those songs, and that singer, are reminders of horrible pain and trauma, and that makes it much easier to hate those songs.
With movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, our society is showing huge improvements in awareness about sexual harassment, abuse, and violence. Yet somehow, R. Kelly, who has been known for many decades to prey on young women, has still managed to slip through the cracks.
Here's the weird, and really, most perplexing part of this whole ordeal: many people know what you're talking about if you bring up the R. Kelly scandal. They know what happened. He did unspeakable things to his victims, many of whom were minors at the time, and many of whom he psychologically abused as well.
Actual tapes of child pornography were shown to prosecutors, yet he was still acquitted. How?
His own wife and daughter backed up claims of abuse. Still nothing?
He married Aaliyah when she was only 15. How about now? Anything?
These are only the facts—the long list of allegations goes on and on. At this point, it is undeniable that R. Kelly is the most monstrous type of person.
The new Netflix documentary "Surviving R. Kelly" has garnered a lot of media buzz for both the accusations against R. Kelly as well as the graphic detail survivors of his abuse disclose. The documentary also delves into the cases of women whose status isn't entirely clear. In the case of Joycelyn Savage, a woman whose family says she is being held by R. Kelly in a mansion against her will, Joycelyn herself says in a video that she is fine. However, it is not out of the question to consider that he may have been forcing her to make the video. Obviously, that's speculation, but it is a strong possibility.
It is ridiculous to assert that these women are speaking up for personal gain. People who accuse celebrities of sexual crimes gain absolutely nothing by drawing that kind of controversy and attention to themselves. They fear for their safety. Thousands of people are just crazy enough to get vengeful and target these women.
I believe strongly in every person's right to remain innocent until proven guilty. There have been many situations where I heard about accusations against a celebrity and took them with a grain of salt. I won't actively pick a side, because the public has not been given sufficient information to understand the story. That said, when allegations become this numerous, this severe and depraved, and they are all consistent, it's hard to believe the accused person's denial.
And plenty of people are convinced. Millions believe the accusations, considering the overnight sensation of "Surviving R. Kelly." Meanwhile, his songs have re-entered the charts. People are listening to them more. R. Kelly is making more money. As a result of these stories going public. That's pretty effed up. It's so easy to look the other way. But we have to resist.
So next time R. Kelly comes up on shuffle, hit skip. Delete it from your playlists. We can't separate the man from the music. The voice you enjoy so much is the voice of a disgusting human being. No singing talent can undo that. Stand with his victims and #MuteRKelly.