Since watching the Docu-series a couple of days ago, I have not been able to think about anything else other than despicable things that have happened to so many women by the hands of Robert Kelly.
I have literally watched every video, read every article and scrolled through every tweet about R.Kelly. I’m obsessed. For my own sanity, I need to write this blogpost to de-clutter and organise all the thoughts in my head; it’s my attempt at understanding how decades of abuse have been allowed to happen to these girls and women for so long, despite it being hidden in plain sight.
One reason why I’ve been so affected by this is because I realise that we have all been complicit in some way, and therefore part of the problem. Everyone who associates R.Kelly with urine or adolescents has been a bystander. All of us who accepted his nickname ‘The Pied Piper’ without question could have done more and should have done more. That’s the truth.
So I just want to make a public apology. I’m sorry for pushing all the subliminal and not-at-all-subliminal red flags to the back of my mind. I’m sorry for turning a blind eye to all of the accusations and for separating ‘the man from the music.’ It is totally unacceptable and all of the survivors deserve better. You all deserved to be listened to, and believed, because you all matter. What he did to you was wrong and no one has the right to subject any human being to that sort of treatment. I pray you all get your justice.
Thoughts on the Black Community:
I think it’s safe to say that we have handled this situation gravely. Our ‘Black Protectionism’ forced us to ignore the atrocities happening to these women out of fear of ‘lynching’ one of our own. Black men already have so much to deal with, don’t they? We finally get a successful one and ‘The Man’ is quick to discredit him by dragging his name through the dirt. We weren’t about to let that happen so we blindly chose to back R.Kelly to the detriment of our own Black women. Even when the evidence was overwhelming.
I’m glad the psyhcologist, Dr. Candice Norcott, was able to explain how abusers are able to manipulate their victims and convince them to stay. Otherwise, I fear that we would still have rather blamed the women for being ‘fast’ and ‘promiscuous’ rather than understanding that they had been broken down mentally, emotionally and physically and brainwashed. And to be honest, people still fail to understand the psychology behind it.
With that said, if you are one of the people sitting behind your screens hurling abuse at the R.Kelly survivors on social media, you need to get professional help.
Next, there are R.Kelly’s enforcers and encouragers. Instead of asking “where were the parents?” we need to think about those around R.Kelly who enabled this to happen. I strongly believe that if those closest to him had collectively and forcefully taken a stance against this behaviour, he would have been held accountable long ago. Or at least I hope so. He had too many ‘yes men’ who enjoyed the life he afforded them rather than urging him to seek help for his sickness.
I didn’t want to believe that this was a race issue. But the more I thought about it, the more I have to agree that one of the reasons why this was able to carry on for so long is because the women involved were Black.
Believe it or not, Black women are used to being ignored.
I am aware that sex slaves come from all races but ask yourself this question: if all these allegations were coming forward about R.Kelly from underage white girls, would it have so easily been swept under the carpet? We have to seriously think about why this is.
I believe this ‘Strong Black woman’ complex suggests that we can handle anything and it is crippling us. It implies that we don’t need protecting which is the farthest thing from the truth. This is not just how the rest of the world sees us but it’s how the Black community see Black women, which is why these effects are even more damaging.
The world needs to acknowledge that as Black women, our personalities are as multi-faceted as every other race (and gender). Some of us are strong, some of us a not so strong, some of us are loud, some of us are not so loud. As human beings, we are all susceptible to abuse and therefore we all have the right to be protected. If we are wronged, we shouldn’t have to break down racial, cultural and gender biases in order to obtain justice.
On the Christian Response:
The truth of the matter is that although God is a God of justice, He is also a God of Grace. As humans, we want blood. We want to #MuteRKelly and make him pay for what he has done. Rightly so. What I’m currently grappling with is that all God requires in order to forgive R.Kelly is his repentance. R.Kelly doesn’t even need to make a public apology for God to be able to forgive him, just a genuine one in his heart. I find that mind-boggling and incredibly difficult to get my head around.
And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that BUT in my heart, I don’t know how I’d react if he turned up at my church on Friday morning. I don’t think it would be pretty. Clearly, even though I’m so far removed from this scenario, I’ve got some real forgiveness to do. I can’t even tear down his character on social media, why? Because Jesus wouldn’t.
As sick as he is, and as much as he needs therapy (behind bars hopefully), Jesus loves him the same way He loves me. And all of us. Isn’t that crazy?
So what now? What’s the take-home? I have a few suggestions:
- We need to hold each other to account collectively – if we know people are committing such heinous crimes, we must do everything in our power to stop them
- We must question things that stray from our moral compass – don’t neglect the red flags and do your research until you are satisfied with the outcome
- We’ve got to talk about it – don’t shy away from these topics, especially as they provide opportunities for paradigms to be shifted
- We should educate ourselves – read up on the psychology surrounding topics of concern and know your facts
- Seek to build good relationships – abuse can happen to anyone but it is easier when people are vulnerable. Be a good friend and make sure your children, especially, can talk to you about anything.
Take care and stay safe. Love you guys, Helen x