Surviving R. Kelly: Negro, Please!

This might be a long one.

I didn’t want to watch it. I’d hoped that I would not have to. The fact that there is so much debate within the community over who is at fault for the mess that is R. Kelly prompted me to put my official opinion out there, for whatever that’s worth.

Who do I blame? Glad you asked, because there’s plenty to go around.

  1. R. Kelly. I know that he has a history of being abused, but he doesn’t get a pass from me for that. Everyone who has survived abuse doesn’t automatically become an abuser. He made the choice to become a psychological manipulator of Black girls. He does not get my support or my sympathy
  2. The R. Kelly “camp”. I don’t know or care why, but the men who worked for this monster chose to supply him with victims and to cover it up instead of helping the police to get those girls away from him. R. Kelly can’t read or write, but you “have no idea” why he’s hanging out at high schools? You’re going to the malls to “bring [him] some girls”? You’re in the house while sex tapes are being made with underaged girls? Get out of my face with “I didn’t know”.
  3. The parents. That’s right, I said it. The parents and guardians who exposed their children to R. Kelly are just as guilty as he is of robbing them of their innocence. Don’t come at me with “the girls wanted to get famous”, “they knew what they were getting into” when we’re talking about females under 18. Children aren’t good at making decisions that take a lifetime to undo. That’s why God gave them parents to protect them. Every parent dropped the ball at their daughters’ expense.

Yes, I know that parents can’t watch their children 24/7. Yes, I remember being a teenaged girl who did NOT want to hear a word that my mother said. I was raised in an oppressively strict household. At 17, I went to school, church, and to my aunt’s house to take care of her babies. Outside of that, I went NOWHERE without my mother’s permission. But that was my mother’s household. Apparently, other households were being run differently (not saying ‘better’ or ‘worse’, just ‘differently’). The things that I was going through as a teenager were things that I could never discuss with my mother. That created a disconnect between us. The estrangement came later, but the disconnect was there first.

I am also a survivor of multiple levels of abuse, so I know what I’m talking about. Abusers prey on the disconnect; that’s how they’re able to isolate a child from her loved ones. It’s easy to turn a child against someone who’s not engaged with them enough to recognize behavior changes. Parents, please don’t take your relationship with your daughter for granted. You have a duty to bridge that disconnect by any means necessary. I know it’s hard, but it’s better than going through the shoulda-coulda-woulda’s after your child has been spirited away by the Pied Piper on your watch.

And don’t think for a second that I’m suggesting that you be friends with your child instead of a parent. My hypothetical teenaged daughter wouldn’t be socializing with any grown-(ahem!) man without killing me and my hypothetical husband first. I’m just saying that you need to know where they’re going, what they’re doing, and who they’re doing it with. You don’t have to be a dictator about it. You do have to know. Children are naturally defiant, but if you can’t handle that, you can’t handle parenting. I DO NOT blame the girls for being victimized, but texting and socializing with R. Kelly on the down-low is defiance that an engaged parent can handle. The absence of that turned out to be a problem.

Let me just throw this in parenthetically–it is a SICK mind that blames a child for their trauma instead of the bastard that traumatized them.

That, unfortunately, is what the Black community does to its own women. Do any of you know how heinous it is to be devalued by your own people? If just ONE of these girls was white (like in the Cosby case), Gloria Allred would be burying R. Kelly right now. Because these girls were all Brown, his team covers it up, the community winks at it for twenty-plus years, and R. Kelly still gets to produce songs, make money, and victimize more of our daughters.

And when the documentary is released, Black women on social media fix their mouths to debate about how “fast” the girls must have been.

Really? Rather than be angry at the man who absolutely knew better, our community will invent reasons to be angry at the women who may not have known better. What kind of foolishness is that? I’m arguing on Facebook right now with a friend’s daughter who insists that the girls should be held accountable for “consenting” to have sex with R. Kelly. Apparently, she has no legal or moral concept of statutory rape (I explained it 3 times) and would probably blame a four year-old child for being molested because she didn’t kick or scream. Why don’t you people understand that a child–even a teenaged child–does not have the capacity to understand what she is “consenting” to??? None of those girls “consented” to be locked up, abused, degraded, and dehumanized in a sex tape.

Whew….give me a minute…..okay, I’m back.

I had to disengage from the Facebook argument. When logic and sense go out the window, I leave with them. Moving on…

I feel hoodwinked. At one point, even I ignored my instincts and better judgment in order to justify letting anything associated with R. Kelly into my sphere. When I first heard, “You Saved Me”, I was so enthralled by the message of that song that I choreographed a piece for my mime team. I wasn’t giving him a pass, but I remember when I needed a second chance and got one. If God could give him another shot to get it right, then I could, too. There were a few people who took issue with my song choice, and long story short, we didn’t do it. I understood then; I understand much better now. And I feel like such an idiot for doing it in the first place.

I just lost a ministry piece and about three dollars’ worth of downloaded songs, but there are women out there–my Sisters and Daughters–who have lost so much more. Their innocence. Their dignity as Black women. Their reputations. Their support within their own community. Their ability to heal. For their sake, I cannot dismiss R. Kelly for any reason. There is no song that he could sing that would make me see him as inspirational. If he had victimized my hypothetical child, trust and believe that I would have burned his house down with him inside it. The minister in me, however, would like to see him in a place where he could not hurt another girl/woman and where he and God could work on his own healing. I don’t know what that place is: prison, rehab, Iyanla, or six feet under. I do know that we need to keep our daughters FAR away from him. No more minors at the concerts. Better yet, no more concerts. Let him find his next victim in the white community–and watch how quickly he ends up in handcuffs.

That is such a sad thing to say. White victims may not be believed initially, but they are still the quickest way to put a Black man in jail.

Sisters and Brothers, let’s stop following the example of White America. Let’s stop blaming women for their abuse while rewarding the abuser. Let’s love, honor, value, and protect our daughters, because the world is surely not going to do it for us.

That’s all I’ve got. Enjoy your weekend.

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