Give R. Kelly justice on a cold platter

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Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service

Demonstrators gather near the studio of singer R. Kelly to call for a boycott of his music after allegations of sexual abuse against young girls were raised on the highly-rated Lifetime mini-series “Surviving R. Kelly” on January 09, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.

By Jaime Watts, Columnists

The “Surviving R. Kelly” docuseries premiered over winter break and created a conversation about sexual assault, separating the art from the artist and accountability. The docuseries interviewed close friends of R. Kelly, psychologists and the women who survived his actions.

The allegations against him include child pornography, having sex with underage girls, physical abuse and having a “sex cult” where he brainwashed women. The docuseries exhibits an alarming amount of evidence and women who all share similar stories. To me, it is clear these women are telling the truth and R. Kelly is a predator who needs to finally be held accountable.

When the docuseries first aired, it was highly discussed within the media. But now that a couple weeks have passed, I notice the conversation has died down. Because of the severity of the allegations and the importance of helping the women affected, we cannot forget about both the survivors and allegations.

At this point, you cannot separate the art from the artist with R. Kelly. He has made good music, but the income he is receiving from people streaming his music are allowing him to continue his horrible behavior. His money is protecting him from the law, which is also discussed in the docuseries. Unfortunately, after the premiere, R. Kelly’s Spotify streams went up 16 percent — which means his revenue increased for all the wrong reasons.  

The law needs to find justice for the survivors, but there are also things we can do ourselves to find justice for them. The most important (and super easy) thing to do, for example, is not supporting R. Kelly’s music. We can stop listening to his music on streaming services, stop going to his concerts and protest at places like his studio in Chicago; in fact, the docuseries shows he may be keeping women in that studio.

Spotify is also going to release a feature allowing its users to mute any artist they please. This idea may have come to be from the #MuteRKelly movement.

Since the docuseries premiered, people are more aware of R. Kelly’s behavior, which has lead to considerable backlash against him. Protests were held at his Chicago studio, artists like Lady Gaga and Celine Dion, who collaborated with him in the past, removed those songs and he was dropped from his record label, Sony Music.

There’s no doubt these are victories, but more importantly, they show that women are finally being heard and believed. However, there are still parents, such as the Clary family, whose daughter, Azriel, is currently with R. Kelly and they have not been able to contact her.

If you do not believe the women, just know that R. Kelly wrote a song called “I Admit,” which is seen as a confession to his accusations. He also calls himself the “Pied Piper” of R&B. The folktale of the Pied Piper lured children with music, like how R. Kelly lured and coerced young girls and women to him. Just with this information alone, he is giving credibility to the women. 

The way R. Kelly addressed these allegations in the media rises more questions about his character. It was reported that R. Kelly and his team launched a Facebook page called “Surviving Lies,” which aimed to discredit his accusers. There was reported sharing of private information about the accusers and they were deemed targets for harassment. Facebook ended up deactivating the page and R. Kelly denies all allegations. 

We need to continue this conversation while also supporting the survivors and the women that are still with him. If you support him, you are willingly saying you do not believe the women and choose to live in ignorance.

Do your research, watch the docuseries and mute R. Kelly.

Jaime is a junior in LAS.

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