I recently saw a video by Jamilah Lemieux, writer, cultural critic, and speaker, about the need for holding celebrities accountable for their actions. I've seen countless times on social media of people voicing their opinions on this issue and how others need to "separate the artist and their work." I don't agree with this. I think that celebrities need to be held accountable for their actions. Essentially, if you are supporting an artist's work, you are helping fund their lifestyle and actions.
A prime example of this is R. Kelly. He has been under fire for quite some time about a series of sexual abuse allegations made against him. Recently, he has made headlines again because he released a 19-minute song titled "I Admit" which talks about all of those sexual abuse allegations. Many of us (specifically Black Women) want to see that R. Kelly is held accountable for his actions and all that he stands for. What's sad about this is that people will still continue to support him (many members of the black community who continue to separate his music and himself as an artist).
An important point made at the very beginning of the video by Jamilah Lemieux was that "Black women are not a teachable moment. We don't exist to help cisgendered heterosexual men become better people somewhere down the line." This line is incredibly important because Black Women have always been portrayed as beings that are supposed to withstand trauma, pain, and suffering but we are humans like everyone else. We are not invincible and are not here to be lessons for other men. Black women and young girls matter.
We need to stop protecting abusive men. The work that artists showcase should not be held higher than the lives of a marginalized demographic. In this case, R. Kelly's music shouldn't matter more than the lives of those who have made the sexual abuse allegations against him. People that continue to support him and his work are essentially ignoring their voices as women (this goes for any celebrity or powerful individual for that matter).
Many people argue that Black Women holding members of our own community accountable for their actions are tools of white supremacy. I completely disagree because holding members of my own community accountable is important. It hurts to see members of my community failing themselves and others but they have to be held accountable. Supporting those of my community will not be held above the need to put patriarchal violence to an end.
Many people do not hold celebrities and powerful individuals accountable because of what they represent (money and fame). Holding cisgendered heterosexual men accountable for their violent and abusive actions is crucial. this applies not only to celebrities (and other powerful individuals) but to anyone that is an abuser or predator (men). Acknowledging powerful beings for their work is fine but also recognizing who they were as a person and what they represent is just as important.