Look, I'm going to admit from the jump that I was never an R-uh fan. I'll let others talk about and write articles about his music and how it moves them, has moved them from decades. I believe them. I believe that for some people R. Kelly and his music are so inextricably linked in the soundtrack of their lives that it's hard to let him go. I personally just never gave a fuck about the dude. So maybe that makes it easier for me to be objective about his status as asshole, manipulator, and predator of young, Black women.
But even given that, it's hard for me to understand why some of y'all are out here taking it rather personally that R. Kelly has come under suspicion again. Spinning multiple plates in an effort to absolve a guy who done told you he was the pied piper, who spent at least part of a decade running around in a creepy mask and cape, singing songs with unabashedly terrible lyrics like "I'm butt-nekkid; sweat socks and house shoes." But, as per usual, most of R's fans want to find a way to blame anyone but the guy accused of doing all the raping. This time, most of these folks are coming for the girls' parents.
Now, I do understand the compulsion to side eye these parents, with all the press conferences, and wrinkled-bedsheet-background-having, wardrobe-change-featuring YouTube videos. In front of these parents were all the rumors, the man's music itself, the existence of child porn featuring R. Kelly with a child, the fact that he illegally married Aaliyah when he was good and grown and she was 15, and the compendium of evidence that Jim DeRogatis has been putting together on R. Kelly for literally decades. And these parents were still cool with not only taking their young women to an R. Kelly concert, but then also taking them backstage to meet the pied piper himself, literally offering their babies up on a silver platter to one of the world's best known manipulator of young minds. One of the moms complaining now admits that she had knowledge of Kelly's misdeeds, but that she somehow thought nothing could happen if she was there. That is willful ignorance at best, mercenary callousness at worst. It's outrageous! So believe me when I say I get why people are coming for these parents. This mother ignored everything she knew about R. Kelly so that she could have a chance at money and fame by sacrificing her daughter to him.
But how many women sacrifice their even younger daughters on different altars? I'm talking about the mom that forces her clearly reluctant daughter into a too tight, too long hug with the same great uncle that used to feel her own ass up back in the day. I'm talking about the mom that chastises her daughter for having "impure thoughts" when she begs not to be forced to accept a ride from the youth minister. Or the mom that blames her daughter for being "fast" when she catches her grown ass boyfriend in her daughter's room. See, from an early age, girls are taught to ignore their internal warning systems in favor of not making a scene and embarrassing men. Society reinforces in every way possible that no matter what the provocation, women should keep quiet, and always seek to minimize the discomfort of males. Black girls, who have for centuries been villainized as prematurely hyper-sexual creatures, are particularly vulnerable. One only has to look at comment sections under any article involving an underage Black girl and an older man to see how easily the allegations against these vile, grown men are dismissed, their victims reviled as "fast" girls who "knew what they were doing." It's my belief that many people cannot denounce R. Kelly without first being forced to come to terms with the men in their lives guilty of the same things Kelly has been accused of, and then coming to terms with their own complicity in staying silent. Better they pretend that bad things only happen to bad girls.
Women in general are not being protected from predatory men. Black girls in particular are not just being sacrificed, but when they try to speak out, they are then blamed for being victims. When we do this, we are adopting as our own the White supremacist myth that Black women are rabidly sexual creatures that lure men by their female wiles and animalistic natures. No. We must do better by our girls. But how can we do this if we can't even turn the dial when R. Kelly comes on?