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.
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.
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