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Mild trigger warning for this story
I’d heard the rumors about R. Kelly for so long, but didn’t know the suvivor’s stories until seeing the Surviving R. Kelly docuseries. My husband and son watched all the episodes with me while my daughter choose not to watch, but did talk about it with us. If I shout from the rooftops on this, non-stop, for the rest of my life, I still will not have done enough for these women. Through six hours over three nights, we heard about unthinkable acts done to vulnerable girls and women, all of whom trusted this man. Instead of delivering on promises to fulfill dreams, he systematically trained each one into a relationship involving every form of abuse. (Roxana Hadadi at Pajiba did a great review, if you want those details.) In addition to exposing R. Kelly’s heinous crimes, the series exposed his cadre of enablers who readily turned a blind eye as they perpetuated his depravity. It is tragic, it is unthinkable and it is a devastating statement about the value we put on black women and girls lives. And even though society failed these survivors, they bravely sat for what must have been excruciating hours, reliving their pain, telling their truths.
R. Kelly has always claimed he’s completely innocent. He’d do anything to convince us of that. During his trial for the infamous tape for which he was arrested, R. Kelly allowed his lawyers to throw his younger brother, a victim of sexual assault himself, under the bus by claiming it was him on the tape. So it’s no surprise that this monster thinks he can get away with it again, going as far as threatening to sue everyone involved with Surviving R. Kelly. He can claim whatever he wants, I don’t care to hear what he has to say about anything ever again. When he’s put in the ground, I hope it’s in an unmarked grave.
After the first two episodes aired, R. Kelly‘s music sales jumped 16%. That mystifying fact has people like Jada Pinkett Smith asking why:
How is it that R Kelly's music sales have spiked (substantially) since the release of the docuseries Surviving R Kelly? I need some help in understanding. What am I missing??? pic.twitter.com/pysqVxLzyi
— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) January 6, 2019
I applaud Jada for this. She put all her anger out there without once raising her voice. And when she finished with, “and I really don’t want to believe that it is because black girls don’t matter enough,” you feel that at your core. In the docuseries, they repeatedly point out that R. Kelly’s music lays out his crimes and that his songs are like trophies, similar to those serial killers take from their victims. Beyond those who still call the survivors liars, there are those that claim the spike is due to people curious to listen for clues. Lyrics can be read online for free. His music is on YouTube for free. The enabling must stop. These women matter. This is a good thread for those of you wondering what more you could or should be doing.
I stand with his survivors and survivors everywhere. And I pray for Azriel Clary, Joycelyn Savage and their families.
Photo credit: Lifetime and Getty Images. Frontpage image is from Jerhonda Pace’s Instagram