Surviving R Kelly Reflection
As I write this, I just need to express how hard it is for me to still think, or even talk about this documentary. These black women decided to bravely tell the whole world about their abusive, and age inappropriate encounters with R. Kelly, and I think what scared me the most about this documentary is not all that was said, because we've heard for decades that R. Kelly has fetishes for young black women, and that he can be manipulative.
We knew he married Aaliyah when she was just a teen, and he was well into his later twenties. WE KNEW THIS, but it's never gone as in depth as it did in the documentary. So while I'm disgusted, and angry of how these women were manipulated and treated, this still wasn't the scariest thing to me. The scariest thing to me was after hearing these stories, all these black women received overwhelming victim shaming from people in our own community.
R. Kelly received so much support from others in the black community during this documentary, that it literally made me sick to my stomach. The young ladies who encountered R. Kelly when they were still underaged were called fast, the women who weren't underage were called stupid, and above all many in our community called them liars.
Social media was in an uproar that entire weekend, I remember when the founder of the #metoo movement Tarana Burke, spoke on the documentary, she was shamed about her looks, and many black men said R. Kelly would never have sex with her, because of her appearance. They ignorantly spoke these statements when not knowing any kind of sexual abuse is not just about looks, it's about having power over someone. A lot of the ignorant people speaking about her appearing on the documentary didn't even know who she was, and the impact of her movement.
I took to social media on my page for The Safe Place app, a minority mental health app for the black community, to explain my confusion of how this many people didn't know who Tarana Burke was, and how ignorant it was to shame her looks, I never knew what I said would go viral, but it did and the amount of black men, and women who came on my page, under that post saying they supported R. Kelly, that all these women were lying, and that Tarana Burke was ugly, or just basically telling me "shut up bitch", was astounding. I don't think I've ever had to delete so many hateful comments in my life.
Not to mention all the black men and women with little black girls, who firmly said they would still go to R. Kelly's concerts and support his music. I think the worst comment I heard came from a black man I use to associate with. All weekend he had been showing support for R. Kelly, and I finally just asked him (since he has a black wife, and little black daughter), would he still support R. Kelly if he committed statutory rape, or abused a black woman in his family, and he said YES, which absolutely disgusted me.
Then, I remembered that this has been going on in the black community for a long time. Many young black girls and boys are molested, raped, and abused by people in their own families, they're either told to never tell anyone, or they're made to forgive their attackers, and still see them come to family functions like nothing ever happened.
Some black people on social media decided to speak up during Surviving R. Kelly, and tell others they have been sexually abused by family. I saw firsthand that some of their family members were in the comments telling them to not tell their story, and to just forgive what happened to them. This to me is why so many black people are comfortable with R. Kelly still being free and dancing to his music, because they're ok with the sick people in their families who do it too.
We have so many black women and men who have been raped, assaulted, and molested who are dealing with serious mental health trauma, not just from what happened to them, but how others have treated them for having something happen to them that they couldn't control. If we're ever to heal mentally as a community when it comes to these kind of situations, we have to be honest and talk about the neglect of empathy, and compassion. Until we do that, many will still continue to suffer in silence for the fear that no one will believe them, and that no one cares anyway.
The Writer Behind the Writing
Jasmin Pierre is a Certified Peer Support Specialist, Certified Mental Health First Aid Responder, Mental Health Advocate, Motivational Speaker, Author of the self help book “A Fight Worth Finishing”, and creator of the minority mental health app "The Safe Place", Jasmin is constantly fighting for the rights of those who battle Mental Health Challenges.