Let's face it, there is a level of safeguard for the wealthy and famous compared to others. You have seen in the news the amount of time it takes for a celebrity to be shamed or punished when breaking the law or doing what is not expected of society. To this day, Chris Brown did not get that much social backlash from the of domestic abuse of Rihanna, Mark Wahlberg career still flourished after assaulting and racial slurs a Vietnamese man, XXXTentacion was charged with domestic and aggravated battery by strangulation on his pregnant girlfriend and was only glorified after his death and many other stories of celebrities. One Celebrity, R. Kelly, that has been in the spotlight the past 10 years, but now recently since the documentary, Surviving R. Kelly, has had many claims and evidence against him of kidnapping, domestic abuse, pedophilia against him.
This all started when R. Kelly marries 15-year-old Aaliyah in 1994. The marriage lasted months and resulted in an annulment with Aaliyah claiming emotional distress and emotional pain from Robert. R. Kelly then goes on to have a relationship with other underaged girls and as reported by some of them be physically and sexually abusive to them. A lawsuit is filed against him in 1996 by Tiffany Hawkins but is not noticed by the public. Chicago Sun-Times investigates alleged sex-crimes and in 2001 the first sex tapes emerge.
Throughout the years more sex tapes, lawsuits, restraining orders have emerged until a trial of 14 counts of child pornography in May 2008 occurs. The jury found Kelly not guilty. All of this was in the shadows as he continued to flourish in his career and his fans steadfast by him. Then in July 2017 the news of a sex cult breaks, these victims break their non-disclosure act and report that this cult started with them underage and one of the women file a criminal complaint towards him. January 3, 2019, Surviving R. Kelly premieres on Lifetime. January 9, 2019, R. Kelly is under investigation in Georgia.
It took a period of 25 years for these women to be believed. Most importantly 25 years of the black woman being pushed in the shadows.
Abuse as a social system is taken seriously, but in many cultures, it can be rarely discussed or hidden. The black community can tend to keep isolated and quite for a sense of community and "no snitching". That generation of abuse is normalized. You hear jokes of people connecting their parents beating them as punishment when they were younger or older men always being predatory towards the younger women in their life. Black women feel the need to be strong and let's face it, may not feel that even their own community have their back at times.
I can't imagine what these women and young adolescents were going through, asking for help and no one was listening. No one believed them also because how could a person in the spotlight with this much power and notoriety do something like this? Anyone is capable of inflicting abuse no matter the status. We must stop being oblivious and start believing the victims. I feel as though this was pushed under the rug for all these years even so because these were minorities, these were women that maybe came from different backgrounds or didn't have the same means to be addressed to the public be heard and respected of their abuse. Media coverage is positioned to cover stories that resonate with the public more, as although an estimate of 42% of missing children are black, media coverage usually focuses on affluent wealthy white people who are missing girls. This became known as the "missing white girl syndrome".
Minorities can be dehumanized through these experiences and not perceived innocent even when they are the victim. After this documentary aired, so many people were victim blaming and blaming the parents instead of the perpetrator himself. This big picture lies in a system of gender and race-based violence, specifically on black women since I can personally relate. I know what you're thinking, we should be discussing domestic and sexual violence as a whole? And while that is important, I'm tired of these specific voices not getting heard because there are a time and place for everything. And currently, I am rooting for the black woman's space. I've had so many people in my life belittle my feelings and own experience of what it is to be a black woman and navigate this pain of abuse and it must end.
To find a resolution, we need to start truly listening to the victims. We must be their voice for them at times when they don't have it. We must teach men to not harm and change the idea of what masculinity is. We must change the norm of dehumanizing minorities by introducing the idea that we can have multiple facets personalities, emotions, constructs in the media. This all starts with a conversation in our homes, at school, at work, and most importantly on the media.