Home Opinion We need to talk about R. Kelly

We need to talk about R. Kelly

Text: #Mute R. Kelly, with cartoon face of R. Kelly
Graphic: Jamani Reed and Matt Pettke

In light of the release of Lifetime’s documentary, “Surviving R. Kelly,” a large conversation has taken place on social media over the seriousness of R&B singer Robert Kelly’s actions, and how people should respond to the claims. Kelly already had a history involving young girls under the age of 18.  He went to trial for possession of child pornography, but was later acquitted on all counts. People across the country, and specifically within his fanbase, are taking sides over the whole debacle – with supporters saying that he did not commit the crimes he’s been accused of, and opponents protesting a new trial and prison sentence for R. Kelly. After hearing testimonies from victims of R. Kelly’s abuse, I believe that he should go to jail and pay for his crimes.

Kelly has denied all claims relating to sexual assault, domestic violence/abuse and sexual misconduct with minors. Kelly has a storied history in the media with allegations of sexual misconduct. In Aug. of 1994, Kelly, then 27 years old, married 15 year-old Aaliyah without her parents’ consent. In Dec. of 2000, the Chicago Sun-Times prints the first allegations of Kelly involved in sex acts with minors. In Feb. of 2002, Chicago police reveal investigations into alleged child pornography in Kelly’s possession, and in June of the same year, Kelly was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography. Kelly’s trial on child pornography charges doesn’t begin in Chicago until May of 2008. Kelly was acquitted on all counts in June of the same year.  In July of 2017, Buzzfeed News published the stories of women in Kelly’s alleged “sex cult.” Later that month, R. Kelly released a 19-minute song titled “I Admit”, but continued to deny all allegations of sexual abuse. R. Kelly’s ex-wife, Andrea Lee, accused him of physical abuse in Oct. of 2018. On Jan. 16 of 2019, Kelly’s recording studio on the Near West Side of Chicago, Ill., is investigated by inspectors from the Buildings Department and the Chicago Fire Dept., and evidence is found that the warehouse was being used as a residence.

The only way justice can be served is if these women can see the man who hurt them mentally and emotionally for so long placed behind bars permanently.

During “Surviving R. Kelly,” former writer for the Chicago Tribune, Jim DeRogatis, said “Robert was a problem with young girls. I’ve known Robert for many years and I’ve tried to get him to get help, but he just won’t do it, so I’m telling you or someone at your article about it and then Robert will have no choice but to get help and stop hurting the people he is  hurting.”

His behavior was supported by his team. I feel like they really didn’t care. They can’t afford to lose Kelly because he is, or was,their main source of income – but they did not truly consider the feelings of the young, impressionable girls he hurt. Lizette Martin met R. Kelly when she was 17. “I don’t think he understands girls that are young how impressionable we are how traumatic  these experience are they change you forever,” she said. Her final straw was when she caught mononucleosis from him that turned into Guillain Barre. Mononucleosis is a group of symptoms caused by the Epstein barr virus (EBV) some people call it the “kissing disease” when it turned into guillain barre caused weakness and often paralysis of the limbs. She was in ICU for two and half weeks and almost didn’t make it. Kelly never came to see her, but he sent her mother money. After that she never went to see him. Faith Rodgers met R. Kelly at the age 19 after seeing him for almost a year. Faith got herpes from him. Keep in mind he never told her that he had herpes. He never helped her with no medical bills after this is stop seeing him and tries to Sue him but she never hears nothing back from him. This shows that he has taking over and control this girls lifes and shows what a monster he is.

It appears that our society is okay with Kelly’s repeated allegations of inappropriate interactions with minors. A grown man using young girls for sex and people that live around him knew about this but nobody really cared. A former employee says “ they don’t care if he was on the tape they just couldn’t afford to lose him.” All this thinking about just the money is horrible as Kelly abuses and destroys these young girls lives. Jovante Cunningham, a former backup singer for R. Kelly, says that “in his mind, he believes his own sick lies.” Once you begin to tell yourself something you start to believe it and don’t even realize it. Kelly actually believed that he wasn’t in the video even though it was caught on tape that there was somebody in the background actually calling his name telling him that he had a phone call. It is really hard to believe that it wasn’t him on the tape.  The young girl’s aunt Sparkle, a former protege of Kelly’s, watched the tape and knew that it was her by her hairstyle. But the community keeps supporting R. Kelly and defending his honor. “Nobody is going to stop me I’m Free as a bird and I’m going to make this music and I’m going to prove you guys you love me so much no matter what I do you’re still going to worship me,” Actress Leslie ‘Big Lez’ Segar said.

She is trying to say that R.Kelly feels like he is free to do whatever he wants when he wants and nobody cares because nobody has stopped him. Let’s be real, his music is great, he is very talented, he loved his music so much that we see him as a different person – but behind closed doors, he is a monster. The trial is delayed for years. Dr. Jody Adewale, clinical psychologist  said, “our society tends to compartmentalize the things we don’t want to look at, and magnifies and glorifies the things that we do.”

Laws need to change. We need to take this more seriously. Society has allowed this to go on for far too long, and we should be ashamed of ourselves. Your time is running low. Watch “Surviving R. Kelly” on Lifetime.


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