Our society is sick with a lot of ills, it is hard to speak on every single one of them but it is worth a try. As a woman, I feel an emotional connection to the hardships of other women, as a woman who is from a racialized background I cannot help but identify with my fellow racialized people. When it comes to atrocities such as murder, or sexual assault, and violence towards our fellow beings one cannot help but feel something. This likely is why it is deeply painful when I witness victim blaming. Recently allegations against R. Kelly have been made in the media, with reports of him having a “harem” of women, some fresh out of their teens who are being influenced by the star to stay in his home and be isolated from their families. One of the alleged victims recorded a video for TMZ saying she was 22 and not being held against her will. I’m not surprised by these new allegations surrounding R.Kelly, I’m shocked by the reaction by women of colour, and others.
In 2013 The Village Voice (villagevoice.com) reporter Jessica Hopper interviewed Jim DeRogatis, he was the pop-music critic at the Chicago Sun Times who broke the story on R.Kelly and the sexual accusations with his colleague Abdon Pallasch. They speak about how the case would have been different if there had been one white woman and DeRogatis is clear about this. DeRogatis is quoted as saying “The saddest fact I’ve learned is nobody matters less to our society than young black women. Nobody”
During R. Kelly’s trial in 1998 social media did not exist, but it was clear that support for the artist was sound. It is not almost 20 years later and rather than looking into the allegations and the history of the man who married 15-year-old Aaliyah, and has had horrific accusations of his sexual misconduct towards young black women -people are quick to call the girls (who may be under the duress of a predator with “star power”)hoes and easy. They asking where their parents are and saying that these possible victims were looking for money and it dried up so now they are speaking up. Some on social media are even likening R.Kelly to Hugh Hefner and defending him, but what is so scary about this is a majority of these comments on social media are coming from black women.
If black women cannot be looked at as sympathetic from other black women who will care about them? There is such a stigma that young girls face when they bring up assaults that have happened to them, they are depicted as wanting attention, or they are sexualized and faulted for their “mature appearances” and they are not afforded any sort of protection from the predators who may have groomed and given them a reason to feel like if they went to someone they would not be heard or it wouldn’t matter.
While the truth of what is happening with R.Kelly and these black women will come out in due time, the truth about attitudes towards black women and any allegations of abuse and assault have been evident for a very long time and are now publicly displayed on social media. This story of young black girls being dismissed within the media and amongst their community is all too familiar, but it should not be normalized. These girls should not be the ones who feel ashamed, but rather those who turn a blind eye and ignore the real culprits should be the ones ashamed of themselves.