“Ignition” was my sh-t. I literally watched every installment of the genius that was “Trapped in the Closet.”
And “Best of Both Worlds” was a masterpiece alongside dozens of other cameos and collaborations with other well known artists. I won’t sit here and lie that I wasn’t a trash R.Kelly fan, but with age comes wisdom and I can no longer rock with the “Pied Piper” anymore. (Sidenote: That nickname should’ve been a dead giveaway to what Kelly is capable of, since it’s literally a story about luring children from safety using his music.)
This week, Buzzfeed reporter Jim DeRogatis dropped a bombshell that shook the entire Black community. His exposé on Kelly’s history of sexual abuse — complete with new allegations that he’s running some kind of a sex “cult” comprised of barely-legal young women — makes it pretty impossible to continue to ignore or deny the severity of abuse allegations being made against the Ephebophilic monster. For anyone else who tried not to pay too much attention to it before, the story made claims that basically painted a portrait of Kelly as the Black Charles Manson (minus the murders) with a gaggle of girls under his control living in an undisclosed compound. There were pages worth of receipts, including audio files and detailed encounters from Black women who have managed to escape captivity with Kelly. But the wildest part of this entire scenario is that this was far from the first time that R.Kelly’s predatory behavior was uncovered.
I remember a friend told me they had gotten a copy of the infamous R.Kelly tape. At the time I wasn’t much older than the girl in the video. Back then the Internet barely existed so it was quite the event to witness a celebrity caught on tape doing something salacious. So we popped in the grainy DVD video and watched, trying to see if R.Kelly was really guilty of what he was being accused of. You couldn’t tell for sure if this was really him, and apparently that is what the court decided since the tape was basically useless in securing a guilty verdict for his accuser. It was easy to dismiss this as nothing more than a rumor that had gotten out of hand. Even Dave Chappelle was cracking jokes about it.
And just like we turn a blind eye to that creepy family friend who can be a little too grabby, the public did the same for R.Kelly’s accusations of statutory rape as we quietly shoved the entire case back into the closet. Just like we all looked the other way when Kelly married the late singer Aaliyah at the tender age of 15. Subsequent to having their marriage annulled, he wrote the incriminating creepy old guy anthem “Age Ain’t Nothin’ but a Number” specifically for Aaliyah to sing. That wasn’t enough to put a halt on the success of the Chocolate Factory singer’s career, and, it seems, neither are these new reports.
And just like we turn a blind eye to that creepy family friend who can be a little too grabby, the public did the same for R.Kelly’s accusations of statutory rape as we quietly shoved the entire case back into the closet.
All of this happened in the news when I myself was barely legal. But now as an adult with a working knowledge of consent and an understanding of how abuse can manifest in a relationship, I am able to identify R. Kelly for the alleged sexual predator that he is. It is fitting that music journalist DeRogatis broke the Buzzfeed story since he was also the reporter who cracked the initial case that brought the artist to trial after he anonymously received a video of a girl being recorded during a sexual encounter with R. Kelly.
The writer said in a Spin Magazine interview that followed up on Kelly’s predation for young women, there have been dozens of underage girls victimized throughout the years. DeRogatis also noticed a common trend among his accusers:
“The saddest fact I’ve learned is: Nobody matters less to our society than young Black women. Nobody. They have any complaint about the way they are treated: They are ‘bitches, hos, and gold diggers,’ plain and simple. Kelly never misbehaved with a single white girl who sued him or that we know of… No, it was young Black girls and all of them settled. They settled because they felt they could get no justice whatsoever. They didn’t have a chance,” said DeRogatis.
There have been a number of mixed reactions on social media from people of all backgrounds. But the most startling of them all is the continued complicity with the idea that Black women should not be protected at all costs. We are not safe. If these were white women, I have no doubt that the FBI and CIA would have already stormed Kelly’s location and set fire to all the apartments until his victims were freed. Not to mention just last year, when several girls went missing in D.C., they were labeled runaways and unworthy of rescue similarly to the narrative of Kelly’s captives.
Despite the in-depth reporting that revealed Kelly had been grooming his victims for several years and manipulated their ambitions as a method of control, it appears that nothing more is going to be done to save these women.
If these were white women, I have no doubt that the FBI and CIA would have already stormed Kelly’s location and set fire to all the apartments
The night the report of these allegations went live, a video of one of the alleged victims, Jocelyn Savage, was posted to TMZ. In it, she insisted that she was ok. Throughout the video, a shadow is clearly seen coaching her responses. It seems apparent that Savage is being coerced, yet people are still arguing that because she is an adult she couldn’t possibly be held against her will. It is also suspicious because there are claims that Kelly controls the girls cell phones, which would explain why Savage didn’t broadcast her message through social media, like the average 22-year-old woman might do.
For whatever reason, the public has remained calm and accepted a janky video from one of his victims as proof enough that this woman is not in danger. Some people even tweeted that this was nothing more than a BDSM Dominant and Submissive relationship. However, according to some in the BDSM community, Kelly’s behavior is a stark contrast to the entire culture of that community and falls into the category of emotional abuse.
Despite these accusations, technically Kelly isn’t breaking any laws because the women are not minors. However, if the signs of abuse he is exhibiting continue, it will be harder for his victims to leave without some kind of intervention. In the meantime we can all do our part by not excusing the behavior of this entertainer. Especially just because he is Black. Like Bill Cosby, many want to believe that this is some kind of assassination of a wealthy and successful Black man, but I would rather believe the victims who have come forward and support the the women who are allegedly being held against their will.