Three Thoughts As I Process Surviving R. Kelly: The Big Picture

Photo Credit: Vibe Magazine

Last week, the world was shocked when Lifetime aired the docu-series “Surviving R. Kelly”. R was accused of being a pedophile and a womanizing abuser. The world is outraged, not only at his behavior; but also that of those who condoned, enabled, and silently observed him exploit teenage black girls. Some are calling for a boycott of his music and for criminal charges to be filed. Others are defending, denying, downloading and streaming his music. It’s a very emotional issue that is triggering memories and feelings of many who have been physically and sexually abused. It’s fueling discussions about misogyny, power & control, violence, rape, re-victimization, feminism, black feminism, laws & statues, roles in relationships, and more. There is a lot of discussion about the large population of black women who are supporting him. I’m not one of those supporters, but I am a fan of his music. I think I will always be one. Yet I’m very angry with him, his entourage and all of America for what has happened to so many women.

First, R Kelly’s music is ingrained in our culture, especially the black community, so I don’t think I can avoid it. Too many people have gotten married, celebrated birthdays & anniversaries, praised the lord, and made babies (Sorry Jacques, Chris Brown and Trey Songs) to it. I can’t turn off my hearing. He was a leader in the industry. He wrote, produced and collaborated with too many stars. Sparkle hates his guts, but their duet still sounds beautiful. It is still raw, real and relevant. It is still beautiful music. There is no denying it. We can’t bury it all. We can’t bury everyone associated with him. We have to address the systems and networks that allowed his behavior to continue for so long. The entertainment industry (music, theater, movies & television, sports… Hell. Every industry) has always exploited vulnerable girls and society has allowed it. Even if he’s locked up, he can make music.

Boycotting one artist isn’t going to provide the impact that needed. I’d rather focus on exposing the misogynist behavior of all men period. Women are tired and fed up with men’s disgusting behavior and are ready to hold them accountable. That’s why so there are so many sexual misconduct cases in the courts in recent years. Woman’s rights advocates like the #metoo movement and #muterkelly initiative have finally created an environment where our voices can be heard. Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Larry Nassar, Brett Kavenaugh, and R. Kelly are just a few examples of how the exploitation of women has been an expectation in our society that women will no longer tolerate. It’s male privilege. It gets covered up, paid off, and protected at all costs because men don’t want to lose it. Black men are so traumatized by their racial oppression that they can hardly see fault with their dominance over women, a hidden privileged. We see it time and time again in all of these cases. The men argue that their sexual prowess is a biological impulse that they struggle to control. In other words, they need sex. The image of a strong man is one who has a lot of sex. In fact, men who respect women are too often stereotyped as weak and are dogged out by their “boys” if they aren’t characterized as dominate. Married men are even encouraged to cheat with other women or watch porn and taunted when they decline. The entertainment industry is portraying American values as Americans live them out. I’d rather focus on changing the values than stop listening to music I like.

Photo Credit: USA Today

Second, the music industry has always encouraged, promoted, and gloried sex. R Kelly’s music is no different. People are acting so shocked and analyzing his lyrics. He was a womanizer, yep; but he never said anything about young girls in his songs no matter how explicit the lyrics. What about other artists who actually talked about having sex with young girls? There are other artist that I love, but their lyrics is disturbing when analyzed too. When I was 10 years old, I remember listening to Keith Sweat whine:

You may be young but you`re ready
[Ready to learn]
You`re not a little girl, you`re a woman
[Take my hand] Let me tell you, baby
I`m yours for the takin`
So you can [Do what you please]
Don`t take my love for granted
You`re all I [I`ll ever need]

Keith Sweat 1987
Written By Keith Sweat & Teddy Riley

Just three years later in 1990, R&B and Hip Hop took it a little further when Bell, Biv, DeVoe released their single “Do Me”. In this hyped song with a dope video, they clearly insinuate to having sex with underage girls.

Backstage, underage, adolescent
How ya doin’, fine, she replied
I sighed, I like to do the wild thing
Action took place
Kinda wet, don’t forget
The J, the I, the M, the M, the Y, why’all
I need a body bag

Bell, Biv, DeVoe (BBD), 1990
Written By Carl Etienne Bourelly / Ricardo Bell / Michael Bivins / Ronald DeVoe

Videos commonly displayed young women shaking their butts and wearing skimpy clothes. Female rappers started portraying the role accordingly. Foxy Brown was talking about, “Ain’t no n#&&a like the one I got” at the tender age of 16. That’s the R&B and Hip Hop culture now and that’s how it was in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when R Kelly was coming up. That’s how it was when I was growing up. I’m sure it’s that culture that contributed to me becoming a mother at 15. Music videos and Harlequan Romance Novels bombarded everybody with soft porn. The year my son was born, 1992, was the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Michigan’s history. We all created that monster.

Third, sexual abuse is a prevalent secret in the black community that needs to be unmasked. I don’t know any women who haven’t been sexually abused or assaulted at some time in her life. I don’t go around asking every woman I meet, but it is a topic that is disclosed to me too often. We have to stop talking about stranger-danger and admit that fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, mama’s boyfriends, and neighbors are molesting both young girls and boys. I won’t even go into the statistics but I know even that is under-reported. The docu-series state R and his brother was sexually abused by unnamed family members. Erotica was an alternative to selling dope for young, marginalized black men and women from the hood. Poor black men wanted to live like Hugh Heffner and Dolomite. I imagine those imagines are even more attractive to someone who struggles with literacy, like R.

The black community had a crack epidemic in the 70’s and 80’s that destroyed black families. There were more single mothers trying to make it happen through work or new relationships. The social services provided to the poor were more of a barrier to financial stability than support. This left many young black children vulnerable to manipulation by predators. Girls like Karrine Staffans who was raped by her mother’s boyfriend at 13 could run away and make a living as a stripper and video/porn star. She did unthinkable things to celebrities because it was more profitable than doing unthinkable things to the hood brothas from around the way. She was a ridiculed “hoe” and it was just accepted that she was just “one of those kinds of girls”. I would say the same thing for Lil’ Kim and Nikki Minaj. Ya’ll know I ain’t playing. Woman are thrown away once they are “spoiled” and often left to fend for themselves. It’s still that way. Young people are making up the “For D*ck Challenge” where girls are talking about all the things they will do to get a penis… in a video. That’s why R can attract so many young, wounded souls. It takes one to know one. He was driven by a compulsion not to feel like a “spoiled” black man. The black community is typically homophobic, and it is not acceptable for a black man to be physically abused, let alone molested. I’m not saying any of this is right. I’m just acknowledging what it is for what it is. It needs to be discussed honestly because we haven’t done anything to change the culture in my lifetime. It takes a village. My perspective could be skewed. What do you think about it all?

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Posted by DaLoveLee1

I recently realized I have a passion for natural hair during on my journey toward self-acceptance and love. So much of who I am has always revolves around my hair. It reflects how I feel about myself internally. When I am depressed or stressed, I don't do my hair. If I do look like a million bucks, I feel like a million bucks, even if I'm flat broke. I started documenting my transition on Facebook and it spread to Instagram. I have been amazed at how I have come to love my kinks and curls. I didn't even know how to care for it when a started transitioning. It has been so liberating. I assumed the name LoveLEE around the same time as my transition because I needed to remind myself that I'm worthy of love. The image of women like me is skewed by the media and negative stereotypes. I refuse to confine since of love and beauty to society's standards. I'm starting this blog so other women will know that they don't have to be boxed in either. You are beautiful and flawless just the way you are.

Thanks for joining me.

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