By now we've all seen the cases built against Matt Lauer, Russell Simmons, Geraldo Rivera, Harvey Weinstein and even Bill Cosby. These men have had damning fingers pointed at them that have caused them to lose careers, money and whole empires. Although the allegations are new, the behavior is old and still casting a shadow on their lives months, years and even decades after their misdeeds. The only "sexual predator" who has yet to lose anything in all of this is R. Kelly and the African American community wants to know why?
"R. Kelly has sold an estimated hundred million records, and, at age fifty, he remains one of the dominant voices in R. & B. He also has a well-documented, twenty-five-year history of allegedly victimizing women and underage girls. Between 1996 and 2002, he was subject to four publicly filed lawsuits, three by teen-age girls who alleged illegal underage relationships. All were settled, with payments made in return for nondisclosure agreements—the favored tool ofHarvey Weinstein and Bill O’Reilly. Since then, Kelly has reached out-of-court settlements with “numerous” other women, according to the lawyer who represented many of them. In 2002, he was indicted for making child pornography, stemming from a video that prosecutors said showed him having sex with and urinating into the mouth of a fourteen-year-old girl. The case took six years to go to trial, and Kelly was acquitted, largely, according to jurors, because the girl and her parents never testified, though prosecutors called a dozen witnesses who confirmed the relationship."
Is R. Kelly getting a "pass" because he makes great music? Some would argue that Harvey Weinstein makes great films, Matt Lauer was a great reporter. Is it because, to everyone's knowledge his victims have only been young Black women? Karen Attiah told NPR:
"When these accusations against these powerful white men ... came to light, it really again reminded me that we haven't been talking about some of these figures who are in our popular culture that have been accused of preying on women for decades," Attiah says.
She says a number of factors contribute to the apparent lack of national discussion about the R. Kelly accusations: His music has become a mainstay in black culture, many women accusing him aren't high-profile or powerful celebrities - and many of those women are black.
"Part of it, unfortunately, has to do with whether or not we see black women and girls as worthy of care and worthy of protection," Attiah says. "Unfortunately, it's hard not to think that if his victims were wealthy white women, that we would be including R. Kelly in these conversations that we're having right now about sexual abuse and exploitation."
Are we telling African American women that they are less valuable than their white counterparts? Is the media silencing the voices of the "regular" citizen in favor of those who hold status or high powered names? This is a conversation that needs to be had PUBLICLY! Why do you think that after all of these years, R. Kelly still has all of his fans stepping "in the name of love" and hasn't really been brought to justice? Let's talk about this in the comments below.