With the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements continuing to gain steam in Hollywood and beyond, Black female activists across the country are calling on Black America to look within our own community to stop sexual assault and harassment against our women and girls.
And its starts with kicking R. Kelly out of the industry forever.
As we know, the Pied Piper has been accused of coercing underage girls into sex, being physically abusive towards women and even holding them hostage in his home. That, and he married Aaliyah when she was just 15-years-old. And yet, even with a video of him urinating on a young girl, Black folks still love him, play his music and attend his concerts each year.
According to Oronike Odeleye, an Atlanta-based managing director of the Creative Currents Artist Collaborative, our collective love for him has got to stop. This is why she created #MuteRKelly in July of 2017 as an online petition to get R. Kelly’s music off of Atlanta airwaves.
“I have been hearing about R. Kelly’s sexual abuse of young black women since I was in my teens. Every few years more women come out with their stories. More images and videos surface. More black girls are scarred for life just as they are coming into their womanhood and sexuality,” said Odeleye told The Grio.
“There is a pariah in our community that we all know about, yet we all have continued to stand by and do nothing. We continue to dance to his music in the club, play it at our family reunions, celebrate to it at our weddings.”
Now, Odeleye has teamed up with Kenyette Barnes, a social justice activist and a survivor of child pornography, and through their hard work and activism, they have been able to get eight of Kelly’s concerts canceled across the country.
In addition, the Black Women’s Blueprint, an organization that addresses reproductive justice and sexual abuse among Black women and girls, hosted a #MuteRKelly rally in New York City to ring the alarm on the fact that this isn’t just about R.Kelly, but a rape epidemic that’s happening in Black America that we keep ignoring.
“This is not new. While R.Kelly’s concert is this weekend, it is not just R.Kelly. Over the past twenty years it has been Mike Tyson, Clarence Thomas, Cee-lo Green, Nate Parker, Bill Cosby, Russell Simmons, all stand accused by Black women and girls now piecing their lives back together after rape, sexual harassment and abuse. Unknown numbers of Black men within our communities, celebrity and non-celebrity, have been reported by their victims. For hundreds of years, Black women—from the Antebellum South to today’s justice movements—have deployed our voices as weapons in the struggles against white supremacy and misogyny. Modern day Black feminists in this country have organized for decades, denouncing sexual abuse through literature, protests, initiating legal cases against sexual violence that occurs in private homes and public spaces,” the organization said in a press release.
“In the U.S., Black girls are disproportionately the victims of sexual violence. Nearly two-thirds (60%) of Black girls report experiencing unwanted sexual contact before the age of 18, and 40% of sexual trafficking victims are Black girls. Advocate and scholar Monique Morris points out, “when Black girls are victims of sexual assault, it’s punishment, not protection, that often comes next.”
They added, “Our January 27th NYC Protests and everyday campaign to stop sexual violence are persistent in saying, it is the responsibility of Black people to protect Black girls from sexual coercion, violence, and abuse. Anti-rape organizations, individual advocates and Black people concerned for victims and survivors must rally not just on Saturday, but everyday to ensure the safety and protection of Black girls in particular.”
Black Twitter, including the creator of the hashtag #MeToo Tanara Burke also showed their support and called out rape culture:
Time is really up folks! It’s finally time we stand up and protect Black women and girls.
BEAUTIES: Are you willing to stand up against sexual violence in our community?