After Surviving R. Kelly

Warning! This post reflects my personal opinions of the Surviving R.Kelly documentary on Lifetime. This post will contain comments about sexual interactions with underage women. If you are sensitive to this topic, please refrain from reading this post.

It took me about a week to watch the Surviving R. Kelly documentary. A part of me wanted to push it off as long as possible. I still wanted to enjoy the idea of his musical talents. 

R. Kelly has hits. Major hits. Legendary hits. 

I knew that once I watched this show, there would be no turning back. No turning back to any of his albums. Or listening to any song that has him featured. I wasn’t ready to give all of this up when the show aired on January 3, 2019.

I have been slowly removing R. Kelly from my ears for a while. I am able to listen for a moment, but then I change the song if I am getting into it too much. It is like I know what I am doing is wrong, but I can’t seem to stop. Sound familiar?

Now it is over.

It should have been over after he married Aaliyah at the age of 15 and he was 27.

It should have been over when he urinated on Sparkle’s 14 year old niece.

It should have been over when people started to notice he was hanging around high schools.

And it should have been over long before Lisa, Lizzette, Azriel, Joycelyn, Dominique, Andrea, Faith, Jerhonda, Kitti, and Asante. And those who haven’t come forward yet.

I watched episode 1 with the expectation that this was the end. The final time I will hear an R. Kelly song. The final time I will watch him on TV. Unless it is a trial.

10 minutes into the episode I was already in disbelief.

I couldn’t believe we, I, let him get away with this behavior this long. This man hid in plain sight. He was telling us who he really is. Not just in his songs, but in the ones he would write for other people. It was if he was sending us messages through his music.

Age ain’t nothing but a number
Throwing down ain’t nothing but a thing
This something I have for you it’ll never change
Age ain’t nothing but a number
Throwing down ain’t nothing but a thing
This something I have for you it’ll never change 

Take my hand, and come with me
Let me show you to ecstasy
Boy be brave don’t be afraid
Cause tonight we’re gonna go all the way
Don’t mean to be bold, gotta let you know
I gotta thing for you, and I can’t let go my

Aaliyah – Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number

Yeah come inside
Now turn the lights down
Don’t be scared, touch me
I know what you want and uh
Tonight is your night
For the rest of your life
So just lay back and listen

R. Kelly – Honey Love

I had to catch myself as I was watching some of the episodes. When one of his songs would play I would start to groove.

Light bulb!

This is how he got us. He would just put hit after hit out and distract us with his musical talent. Sounds like manipulation.

You could not turn on the TV or radio without hearing his voice on a song or a song he wrote for another artist. He was everywhere. He created so many distractions.

So I, probably along with you too, fell into this viscous cycle where I turned the cheek. I would be angry and distraught for a while. Then I would hear one of his songs. It’s like I forgot what he did. Looking back now, I can’t believe it.

He would manipulate women to pay attention to only him. And he manipulated his fans to only pay attention to the music.

There was one moment in show where I saw myself in one of the women. He tore their confidence and told them he was the best thing for them. He had some type of hold on them that they couldn’t explain. I had been there before.

Many people are blaming the parents and the girls. But the person responsible for it all is Robert Kelly. No one else.

But that does not take away from the fact that some of the parents and women may have made some poor decisions. I say women meaning those who are older than 30. A 14-year-old can’t decide for herself.

I was 12-years-old (1998) when R. Kelly was engaging in threesomes with 17-year-old Lisa Van Allen and the 14-year-old niece of Sparkle. I was 22 (2008) when he went to trial for child pornography.

10 years. 10 years in between. And who knows what had transpired in those years.

When the sex tape was leaked of him peeing on Sparkle’s niece it was everywhere. Every media outlet was commenting on it. You could even buy the DVD at your local adult store.

So as I was watching the series, I could not wrap my head around the fact that the older victims and parents of the young girls did not believe that he did not commit those horrendous acts. We all lived in that age of him being front page news.

What made the parent’s comfortable with him? How did they turn the other cheek to information that they were aware of? Yes they were accusations & allegations, but everyone knew. Patterns speak for themselves.

I am not blaming them one bit for the reason their daughters have been destroyed by this monster. But what I am wondering is what made them feel comfortable with a man who has been repeatedly accused of inappropriate behavior with minors. What smooth and comforting line did he give them?

These same thoughts came to the surface when then two women who were 30+ on the show. Again, not blaming them at all. But did they not know?

R. Kelly is good with is picking women who are easily swayed and can be controlled. He can spot someone, regardless of age, and figure out if he can prey on them. Women who might lack confidence. Women who are young and naive. Easily molded.

He get’s them to a point where it doesn’t matter what their parents or others do, say or think. To the girls, HE is the only thing that matters.

Not their mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, friend, teacher, coach or anyone else can pull them out of that trance.

Remember I said 10 years between. To put this into context. To show the manipulation that was happening right before our eyes, this is what R. Kelly did between 1998-2008.

85 musical awards won. Yes I counted.

2 of these were actually gospel awards. HA! 

6 Tours 

6 Albums, with some of these major hits.

Half on a Baby

I Believe I Can Fly 

Feeling on yo Booty 

Step in the name of love 

Ignition & Ignition Remix 

Happy People 

And the beginning of Trapped in the Closet

We were distracted. Our minds were so busy focused on what he was writing, singing and producing that we didn’t think twice about when Lisa Van Allen tried to come forward YEARS before the 2008 trial. 

Or even the things before 1998. Like when Robert was sued by Tiffany Hawkins in 1996 for an inappropriate relationship when she was 15 and he was 24. 

Just disbelief.

Plenty times during the episodes I said “this wouldn’t happen if they were white”. This was also said numerous times on the show from the women.

There would be no R. Kelly if the women he was preying on were white women. But because they are black and brown girls no one seems to care.

The system has been designed to give black and brown girls the short end of the stick in many ways.

We are overly sexualized in music and the media. In the workplace we have less of a chance to progress to the C-Suite than any other race. And we are consistently labeled as too much of something.

I couldn’t help but to think if Alice & Angelo Clary were a white married couple and Azriel was a white woman. If the police would have responded different when they showed up in response to Alice’s wellness check call.

Would they have done more than knock on the front door. Or say more than “there’s nothing we can do”. I believe so.

Our black girls have been falling victim to sexual assault for years. For years women have been accusing R. Kelly. But our pleas and claims go unanswered.

When will we be valued as much as a white woman. When will black women feel like they matter just as much.

To the women who have come forward to accuse Robert of his unacceptable behavior – Thank You.

Thank you for your bravery. Thank you for your words. And thank you for being a light for other women who looked at you as a way out. A way to raise her voice and come forward.

And to the women who were just at a recent R. Kelly concert in Chicago screaming “Take me hostage”. Shame on you. Shame on you for making a mockery of sexual abuse and assault. Shame on you for disrespecting these brave women who feared for their life when they stepped forward.

DV, what did you think of the documentary? I want to hear from you.