(Jerhonda Pace: Pic courtesy of Kristen Zeis for BuzzFeed News)
No lies detected.
Since Vince Staples let that ether flow, R. Kelly’s inner circle has dropped him. His lawyer, publicist and assistant have all quit. The recent BBC3 documenting Kelly’s perversion alleged by those close to him didn’t do it. Neither did the years of stories about this man. Kitti Jones detailed the horrors she experienced from him just last year. Jerhonda Pace also went on the record to say R. Kelly trained her to be his slave at 16.
Still, R. Kelly’s career just kept thriving . It’s because Black women and our girls are the most disrespected and least valued in society. If that weren’t true, it wouldn’t have taken a man to repeat what most of us have been saying but were ignored because folks just had to two step in the name of love.
What’s crazy to me is that people still go hard in the paint for R. Kelly. It’s our community that’s still buying his music, going to his concerts and inviting him to the BET Awards as our R&B King. Even if this weren’t a moral issue, the Pied Piper hasn’t brought the heat from the studio in a minute. The only thing hot that comes from him is the piss he uses on little girls.
There hasn’t even been contrition for show. He’s not sorry. Not about grooming Aaliyah, marrying her or liking teenagers. None of it. R. Kelly has remained unapologetic about his actions because a pass was given. He’s that creepy uncle everyone warns you about in the family but yet is still invited over. Eyes get turned the other way while girls are warned to stay away. The burden falls on them to stay away from a known predator because listening to the common sense of Black women is a hard concept for many to follow through on. I’ll point the finger at myself.
In 2008, I supported R. Kelly. The Ignition remix went hard and Chocolate Factory was a solid album. It wasn’t 12 Play but nice. I believed it was Kelly on the videotape even though he wanted everyone to believe our eyes were lying. But in my mind, the girls in the videotape weren’t like me. When I was younger, I was sexually abused. By three different guys, one of whom is a family member. I have a vivid memory of him on top of me and not being strong enough to fight him off. I used to be so fucked up that it was just easier to believe that those girls weren’t real “victims”. I’ve heard fast girls so many times in my life that it became internalized at that point.
I’m thankful that women I looked up to didn’t find it a waste of time to help me unpack and unlearn harmful thought processes that could endanger another. It took some time. You don’t just break bad habits overnight but guidance and much needed therapy awakened me. To be woke is now a cliché thrown around but I really was in a deep sleep back then. These days, I’m so reflexive to be an avenger of those who have been hurt that I forget how far I’ve come. I didn’t always get sick at the sight of R. Kelly or refuse to buy his crap. My iPod wasn’t always cleansed of his music. I shouldn’t have been in a rush to cancel Gabby Douglas a few months ago when she shifted accountability to her fellow gymnasts for their abuses. Respectability is taught to help us master society and ends up entrapping us. It leaves young girls, especially Black ones, vulnerable to be sexually exploited and then told it’s their fault.
R. Kelly is a man with status, riches and power. He could get any woman he wants but is known to prey on young girls because they’re easier to manipulate. Most grown women see right through him. We let it be known but we’re not heard. We’ve been blowing that smoke but it took Vince Staples using his platform to get R. Kelly to finally feel the heat of his reported misdeeds.
I’ve come to accept that society as a whole just won’t take a woman’s word. Hannibal Buress needed to voice the rape claims against Bill Cosby for them to be found credible. Ronan Farrow helped lead the charge against Harvey Weinsten and even then, the mistreatment of WOC was marginalized. Lupita Nyong’o wasn’t afforded the same sympathy as a Gwyneth Paltrow. Now think of the young black girl who doesn’t have an Oscar to her name. #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, Mikki Kendall and so many other Black women do and care about their trauma. If you don’t know that, it’s because you haven’t been paying attention.
Black women have been trying to save us from since before the 2016 election. Let them. Better yet, listen when they speak.