Don’t just watch “Surviving R. Kelly”: The Lifetime series alone won’t be the end of the story – D. WATKINS JANUARY 6, 2019 8:30PM (UTC)


If you’re angry and disturbed by the Lifetime docuseries, the #MuteRKelly campaign has been underway for some time

This week Lifetime premiered its six-part docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly,” dream hampton’s detailed look at the musician’s history of epic narcissism and disturbing allegations of a long-standing pattern of sexual abuse and domestic violence from multiple accusers, including those who were teenagers when they say the abuse happened.

Before I go any further, I’d like to give full disclosure: I did think R. Kelly’s music — hip hop twirled with R&B in a gritty way — was cool when I was a juvenile. All the kids at my middle school bumped him. But when my sister told me he married his 15-year-old protégé Aaliyah (which he has always denied), and I responded with something like, “shouldn’t she be playing with kids my age?”

I fell off the Kelly train and even became disgusted with him when I got a little older and started analyzing his lyrics. For example, here’s the hook from his hit song, “You Remind Me of Something”:

You remind me of my Jeep, I wanna ride it
Something like my sound, I wanna pump it
Girl you look just like my cars, I wanna wax it
And something like my bank account
I wanna spend it, baby

Jeeps and bank accounts are property — something that someone owns — and knowing the history of this country, no black person in their right mind should be OK with being called property, nor identifying another person as such. The idea of comparing black women like my mother, who risked her life to bring me into this world, or my fiancée, whom I couldn’t even begin to imagine a life without, is beyond crazy; psychotic even. So the signs were there in the songs that abuse allegations against Kelly carried weight, but his friends and family — along with the media, the music industry and his loyal fans — fumbled the ball over and over again.

“Surviving R. Kelly,” is an extremely important piece of reporting, and the number of survivors, family members, former business associates, and people close to Kelly who share close and personal stories about his years of addiction, manipulation and alleged abuse of women and girls will be eye-opening to those who haven’t followed the details of Kelly coverage across two decades. But I fear it might not be enough to take him down, so I’d like to point out what else you can do to help the #MuteRKelly campaign while all eyes are on this story.

Call out your friends who still play R. Kelly

If you are in the car or at the family cookout and someone puts on R. Kelly, inform them about the many allegations against him and pull up the hundreds of articles that offer testimony from the women who say he has harmed them. How would they feel if that was their child?

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