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Op/Ed: Surviving R. Kelly

I found this online and started watching it and I’m INCENSED.

And it’s not for the obvious reasons, either. The rage stems from the fact that R. Kelly has been a known pedophile and abuser of young and underage black women for decades as the collective black community by and large looked the other way. We cannot blame any other section of society for what we allowed to happen right under our collective breath. He knew he could get away with it for so long because he knew something that many black people are unwilling to admit.

We enabled him.

John Legend is one of the FEW mainstream artists to speak out on R. Kelly’s behavior

We, by and large, sat back and heard those rumours but kept on buying single after single, album after album, remix after remix. Despite the mounting evidence that proved Aaliyah and that alleged marriage (which we knew even THEN was not alleged, but real) was no fluke. We turned the volume up on the radio and drowned out Sparkle when she came forward and told us all that R. Kelly the superstar had molested her 14-year-old niece. We even had the audacity to throw his wife under the bus as a gold digger when she finally had the courage to come forward and recount her years of abuse at the hands of this monster.

Shame on us.

What this program has shown is that the music industry is beyond trash, because this is nothing new. It has been happening since the dawn of mainstream music: the teasing and taunts of older men preying on younger women. The ways in which society has managed to find a way to make it acceptable.

As long as it straddles the fence properly.

Sparkle paid the ultimate price by coming forward: with her career

So, when Elvis Presley was shacking up with Priscilla when she was a teen, hardly a murmur was spoken. It was even described as a fairytale.

If that’s a fairytale, what’s the nightmare then?

Other takeaways from viewing this?

The entire music industry failed these women. R. Kelly is illiterate, so he could not scheme and plot and plan to this degree for decades without serious assistance from those that could. These very people are just as guilty as R. Kelly even if they never placed a hand on an underage girl. They allowed, for decades, this monster to abuse young girls in ways that they may never escape from for the rest of their lives. How they are able to sleep at night is really just BEYOND.

Aaliyah’s family is trash too.

Now, there are many out there that still like to characterise Aaliyah as a girl wise beyond her years, but that simply is not the case. Aaliyah was 12 years old when she met an already grown R. Kelly. For anyone to think Aaliyah was the first young girl he approached in this manner just grates on so many nerves. She was groomed and exploited not only by Kelly, but also by her own family, who finally had to pull the plug and have her marriage annulled once the sh*t hit the fan and the marriage certificate proving it came to light. Now, insight of her death, one can understand why they are trying to protect her legacy and whatnot, but the receipts don’t lie. They’re backtracking and sidestepping as if no one can see what is what. Which forces the question:

If adults won’t stand for kids, then who WILL?! Because Kelly probably got several underage girls pregnant as this has been his M.O. for several decades. Some parents ain’t SH*T and are basically pimps, looking the other way because a superstar is courting their young daughter and the potential damage he poses runs a distant second to the money he could potentially provide them.

Shame on them!

The part that REALLY upsets me?

His sales have gone UP this week! There are still black people that will buy every one of his albums and tell us the videos were lies, the media is blowing it out of proportion, and these young black girls are ‘fast’. To them, I say?

F*ck YOU.

I will STILL have to debate black people that will continue supporting him. because his loyal base will never alienate him and will defend him to death. They can do so as they please, but at the end of the day he has been cancelled for me for well over two decades and he will never get another cent of my money.

Everyone knows R. Kelly should be behind bars

The entertainment industry has always been a huge haven for this type of behavior and there are plenty of artists both past, present, and future that we could be giving significant side-eye to as well.

But what does this mean in the end?

It means every major studio he worked with worked OVERTIME to hide and conceal his predilections in lieu of revenue he would generate.

It means every artist he worked with knew TOO and said nothing as they were more concerned about the bottom line and their careers than the mental and physical safety of young black girls.

It means mainstream media failed to ask the hard questions because these media companies are all owned by a mere few conglomerates and they care more about dollars and sense than lives and souls

And last but not least?

It proves yet and again that black women are the last ones to get protected when push comes to shove, which is why it is even MORE important that we take care of our own, because if we don’t?

Don’t expect anyone else to!

Triston is an American jetset performance artist, writer, event organizer, and activist based in Europe. As a freelance journalist, he has covered both the underground and mainstream aspects of the arts, culture, music, entertainment, travel, fashion and Fashion Week in several cities, including New York, London, Berlin, Istanbul, Sydney, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Tokyo to name a few. He has been published in The Huffington Post, Trespass (London), Adaras Magazine (Miami) as well as featured in publications such as the New York Times, Vogue Italia, Washington Post, Turkish Huriyet and other on-line and print magazines in the U.S. and internationally. He recently released his memoir on life in Europe, 'Heaux Confessionals'. As a solo performer and with his band $kandal Du$t, he has toured in some of the world's most renowned clubs, simultaneously maintaining an underground renaissance, blurring the lines of all that is traditional and leaving his indelible, and ultimately unforgettable impression. There is no divide.

Brace yourself.


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