R. Kelly: Sexual Predator or Scapegoat?

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I anticipate that this post will be unpopular. I acknowledge the contention that my assertions will certainly prompt and welcome the scathing comments in the section below. With that being said, I still very must feel that my perspective is worthy of articulation and exposure to those that care to listen.

Singer and R&B legend R.Kelly made headlines this week for allegedly assembling a sex cult consisting of underaged girls. These allegations bear a disturbing connection to R. Kelly’s previous trouble with the law, portraying Kelly as a an OJ-like figure–a haughty  recidivist who finagled through the loopholes of the American legal system.
I feel obliged to state that I have no respect for R. Kelly as a man. I do however, respect his talent. I perceive the ‘Pied Piper’ as an enslaved black who used America’s need to hyper sexualize the black man as a means to foment his career. While Kelly defiantly made family friendly songs like “Step in The Name of Love” and inspirational songs like “I Believe I Can Fly” and “The World’s Greatest” most of Kelly’s hits are sexualized slow jams to which I’m sure proved background music to the conception of many post millennials. His sexualized image fueled a career spanning over two decades with a plethora of adoring black female fans.

These fans remained loyal to Kelly even after a video surfaced of the singer issuing a golden shower to a then-fifteen year old girl. The charges were eventually dropped and buried in the past of a musician who was still able to maintain his mogul stature despite dramatic changes in the music industry.
While my argument is not to pardon R. Kelly from blame, it is that he is not the primary cause of the hyper-sexualized black female body that faces violation without consequence. R. Kelly was relieved of any legal responsibility in previous allegations of sexually violating a black female teen simply because the black female body bears no significance to the Western world outside of monetary gain. Consider how quickly the western world kills and incarcerates the black body.  The reason why Kelly was not susceptible to these consequences is not because of his riches, but because his “crimes” served an integral purpose in maintaining white supremacy. Moreover, the world was and is more interested in portraying Kelly and his victim as sexual beasts than to upholding the integrity of those they do not see as a human let alone bearing the presumed innocence of femininity or childhood.
To the western gaze, the hyper sexuality of the young black female body violently seduces Kelly. To this same gaze, Kelly is a sexualized being unable to resist the callings of his bestial urges. Together, these caricatured images of black sexuality function assemble the historical narrative of blacks as primitive and underdeveloped beings worthy of the death and incarceration that befalls them.

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Kelly, a melanated individual who believes his conventional success consummates his transition to whiteness, feels as entitled to young bodies as the white man did and does to young black females. Kelly, is a symbol of what happens when a morally impoverished black youth offsets a journey to acquire physical wealth and not a collective consciousness. As members of an oppressed collective, it is essential that we proceed with consciousness. To proceed without it, is to inevitably mirror our oppressors in thought and action.

There is also a large possibility that this ordeal is entirely fictional, and yet another means to lynch a black man by the rope of hyper sexuality. But the verity of these accusations does little to supersede its societal function. The scenario depicts how the black man and women are commonly pitted against one another and how the black male is villanized for implementing what he was nurtured to idolize—white male ideology.

The teachings of white supremacy are second nature to anyone not possessing a conscious gaze. I read The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, a few years back and was mortified at what Pecola’s father does to her on the kitchen floor. I resented Morrison for years, holding her in contempt for depicting the black man as indifferently robbing his child of her innocence.

It took me several strides into consciousness to realize that the father was a man systemized and nurtured to become an animal, a subjugate human who performs the dirty work of his master in his oppressed state. This is not an excuse, as his actions are detestable and hard to read, yet even more difficult to process as a factual fate rendered to so many blacks throughout the diaspora silent in the shame of their systemic violation.

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Kelly symbolically stands in the same image of this fictional black man who encompasses the factual narrative of so many other black males castrated by earthly demons who program the black body to inflict white evil onto their own people.

Kelly’s actions function to lure black women from blackness into the arms of feminism–yet example of society’s dedication to turning racist issues into sexist issues to further the cyclical disenfranchisement of blacks by hurling our struggle into oblivion. A second offense by a black praised for his prodigious talent, serves another blow to our collective identity alongside similar allegations afforded to other black greats like the late Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Kobe Bryant, amongst others. These allegations function to fuel white esteem and denigrate black collective worth in staining the black psyche with portraits of themselves that seemingly lack a moral compass.

So, to those quick to compartmentalize a black man as a sexual villain— I would like to redirect your attention to the words of the late and great Malcolm X:

“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

To what contempt will you hold a system that upholds the systemic soiling of black female bodies?

To reiterate I am in no way excusing Kelly, but evoking a sense of nationalism to assert that we as a collective have been wronged by a system that lures us to incessantly blame ourselves but seldom confront the  true villain and sole benefactor of global racism.

In closing, the power of blackness lies largely in realizing if and when we are being played. So while we may not be playing chess, our systemized state as blacks bears a close resemblance to a king being used to seize the most powerful piece of the game–his queen.

Article by CC Saunders

Will you go see Birth of a Nation?

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I know this might not be a popular viewpoint so let me state that this is simply my position. I do not condone, nor can I excuse the actions of Nate Parker when he was a younger man. As a survivor of sexual assault I understand first hand that it leaves scares that one must learn to live with. I can only hope that he has learned how devastating his behavior was, and become an advocate against sexual assault. I must say my concern is that personal issue with Parker threatens to take away from a film that we need to see. Too many of us have supported people that have done very terrible things in the name of being entertained. However, this isn’t just about entertainment but a story that needs to be told.

I personally find the timing of the Nate Parker story interesting. It came and caused some to say I won’t see the film because I refuse to support Parker. I truly believe this was the overall agenda of the media. Think about it… how many films do we have that depict the enslavement periods? We have quite a few, varying in accurately, but how many depict uprising? To many say we should move on from this period because it is in the past. We need to put slavery behind us we are told.

However, no one tells Holocaust survivors and descendants to move on. Yet the bottom line is there is plenty of accepted open dialog on the Holocaust. Germany has had to reckon with that history. Truth be told… the reason we can’t just move on is because America has never reckoned with the enslavement of black people. It has never been dealt with. Yes, we are aware it happened but the ramifications of it have never been dealt with.

Right now we have schools trying to rewrite history in an attempt to erase the evil of Americans past. Instead of facing where we have been as a nation… we are trying to wash it away. That is simply impossible. We need the arts (film, literature, art, music) to tell our story. It’s important that it be told all of the enslaved did not accept their condition lying down. It’s important for the very psyche of American born blacks to know yes we did fight back. The depiction of us in the world is not always accurate. It’s important that other people of color, as well as our African brothers and sisters, know our plight. It needs to be our story told by us.

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This film is bigger than Nate Parker, and its need is great. I don’t condone his behavior as a man, yet I appreciate his courage to make such a film. As one who majored in English, and History, I will be going see this film at least twice. I will view it once for myself, and once to write a review. I support the telling of our stories. The voices of our ancestors have been silenced from us for far too long. We need to feel their strength and understand their sacrifice. I’m going see Birth of a Nation, and I hope many of us will be in the theatre to support the telling of our history… by us. Birth of a Nation releases in theaters nationwide October 7, 2016.

Article written by Christian Starr