The Black Community Has Continued to Support R. Kelly - Until Now

July 17th 2017

Ngozi Ahanotu

Robert “R. Kelly” Kelly is trending in the news Monday but not for the reasons you’d think.

Buzzfeed reported Monday morning that the 50-year-old Grammy award-winning singer is holding young women against their will in his Chicago, Illinois, recording studio and Duluth, Georgia, home for his sexual pleasure.

The article discussed how parents of those being "held" have taken many actions to retrieve their children and remove them from the mind control of the R&B artist. From filing missing reports to interviewing with the FBI in regards to their "missing" children, nothing can be done because most of those involved are adult women making consensual decisions. Appearing as a "cult," he replaces their cell phone with a phone that he provides them. He also has very strict "rules" on how they should dress, speak, and conduct themselves in his presence and the presence of his friends.

After the report hit social media, the black community seemed to not take the news lightly, with many calling for action after giving R. Kelly a second chance in the past.

This isn't the first time these types of accusations have been made against R. Kelly.

In 2003, he was charged with having sex with an alleged underage girl after Cook County Sherriff’s Office in Chicago, Illinois, found implicating photos and video of him in the act. These charges were dismissed due to the lack of probable cause, but the county did eventually charge him with 14 counts of child pornography and set a trial date.

In 2008, he was acquitted of the 14 counts. A year before the trial, he was still able to produce the chart-topping album "Double Up" with hit singles “I’m A Flirt” and “Same Girl." While the charges were a blemish on his career, he continued to tour and make music as his fan base, which is predominantly black, continued to support him. There's often this mentality in the black community that it's better to support a black man who has made himself into a success than to have another black man in jail.

Zeba Blay wrote for HuffPost in December 2015 in regards to this phenomenon after the singer stormed out of a "HuffPost Live" interview segment when he was pressed about the past allegations against him:

"This is the Persecuted Man narrative that so many predators love to latch onto; the delusion that all he wants is to give us good music, and all we want to do is make him sad. Get out of your feelings, R. Kelly. You are not entitled to our praise, our album dollars, or our support. This isn’t about persecution, or about trying to kick 'another black man' down. This is about the young black women whose stories were ignored, ridiculed, and forgotten in favor of upholding R. Kelly’s musical legacy."

It has been argued that the black community commonly never wants to see a successful black man in jail. But an even larger narrative is the blatant disregard of black women when they accuse black public figures like R. Kelly of sexual assualt, harassment or abuse.

Malcolm X famously said in regards to the treatment of black women in the United States: “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”

Like R. Kelly, Chris Brown and Bill Cosby have also been accused of abuse, sexual assault, or rape with the black community usually behind them all the way. Unfortunately, some black people often can't separate art from the artist, and therefore are usually unable to accept when black men are wrong. This may not always be the case as there were many who cried for justice after the mistrial was declared in the Cosby case.

"Boondocks" creator Aaron McGruder covered this issue in season one, episode two, of his former Adult Swim show.

While black men often face many forms of discrimination in America, it doesn't excuse harming others and recognizing that the accused may need help or that a crime has been committed is the first step in making sure that women, specifically black women, are not hurt anymore.