The other night, when I should have been studying for my MCAT's, I was flipping through TV channels in my living room and I stumbled across, "Surviving R. Kelly" on Lifetime. I usually hate Lifetime documentaries but something about this one was so intriguing to me that I couldn't change the channel.
I assume it was because growing up, everyone in the black community had polarized opinions about him. People either loved him or hated him. And hated him for a good reason. Since I was younger, I've heard rumors about R. Kelly's behavior... the sexual assault, the child pornography, and the luring of teenage girls. But this documentary was more than just reiterating what we all already heard... this documentary tried to get to the root of it and pull substantial evidence from recordings, eyewitnesses, and first-hand accounts.
But something that haunted me when I was finished watching the six episodes of the special was that stories like these aren't unique. The sexual assault of young women happens literally EVERY DAY, by family members, friends, and even total strangers. But what interested me, was the sociological impact it had on our community. The fact that the issue like this is so swept under the rug is truly devastating.
What also struck me was that during R. Kelly's trial for child pornography, many fans (whom being black women) stood outside the courthouse and supported him throughout his trial. I mean... like dang, this guy is literally ON TRIAL for CHILD PORNOGRAPHY. A victim in situations like this could be anybody: You, your daughter, your best friend, your niece, etc. and they decided to SUPPORT this perverted creature? It's sickening. It's something that really makes me upset because I feel like sexual abuse just isn't talked about in the black community as much. It's something that's borderline "normal" or if it happens no one will believe you. It's terrible because people should stand by victims and believe them.
Watching the documentary, it was clear that the reason why it was so swept under the rug and why R. Kelly was found not guilty was because these girls were minorities. The jury said that they didn't believe the girls who got up on the stand to testify against R. Kelly about the video, and although it wasn't explicit, it's clear that it's because they were young ethnic females. Do I believe that the process would have been speedier and that he would have been found guilty if his victims were white, young women? Of course. It's just sickening that these minority youths didn't get a chance to see their predator locked up.
I will admit, the reason why he was also found not guilty could have been due to the fact that he was rich, famous, a genius with music, charismatic, etc. But this poses an even bigger issue: Why are the stories of these young girls debased because of a famous person?
Don't their lives, sanities, and physical wellbeings matter more than a #1 hit on Billboard's Top 100?
It truly baffles me how people STILL support this man, even though there's so much evidence implicating him as a child predator. We should be holding this man and ALL THE ABUSERS OUT THERE ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS AGAINST THESE VICTIMS. This needs to STOP. We need to stop giving people like this the time of day and enabling them to continue this god-awful behavior.
That's why the #MeToo movement is SO IMPORTANT! We need the narratives of these victims in order to end the disgusting cycle of sexual abuse in our society. Situations like these need to be brought to light and taken seriously.