News flash to Wendy Williams. You can’t make us feel sorry for R. Kelly.
On Monday, the talk show host commented on the R&B singer and the flood of allegations of sexual abuse going back for decades. Instead of using her powerful platform to call out Kelly’s behavior, she instead commented on how Kelly “can’t read, he can’t write and he can’t add,” and on how unconscionable it was that no one took the time to educate the man.
Williams then broke down in tears when she talked about the reported victims. But these were not tears of outrage over Kelly’s behavior, or sympathy over the trauma that these women and girls reportedly have gone through. She instead lamented that it was the parents that “unleashed your daughters” on an older man, and that “15-year-old” girls “carry themselves like 22.”
Williams said she was considering having a one-on-one sitdown with Kelly. It’s likely that the singer, who is now the target of the #MuteRKelly campaign (led by black women) and who has been called out by powerful black female celebrities such as Ava DuVernay and Shonda Rhimes — is in need of a black sister in the media world to do him a solid and help him out.
Whatever is going on, Williams’s victim blaming is just another example of how Kelly has gotten a big, fat steaming pass for two decades.
A quick reminder: Kelly has been accused in lawsuits of sexual misconduct, statutory rape, aggravated assault and unlawful restraint. He went to trial on (and was acquitted of) 14 counts of child pornography. Yet he has remained a celebrated artist.
I argued last year, after journalist Jim DeRogatis published a scathing exposé on what the families of the women involved described as Kelly’s “abusive cult,” that it was time to shut Kelly down for good — and that a large part of why he had been able to get away with such reported abuse for such a long time was because his victims were largely young black women and girls.
In the age of #MeToo, when prominent men have been fired from their positions due to sexual misconduct, Kelly still has a singing career. As my Post colleague Geoff Edgers found in his investigative report, the music industry stood largely silent even as allegations of abuse swirled around Kelly.
It’s not enough to go after Kelly himself. The singer is still on the active roster of RCA Records, a division of Sony. The label has stayed largely silent on the accusations. It’s time for the label to do the socially responsible thing and drop Kelly from its rotation. Otherwise, its silence disgustingly suggests that it doesn’t care about the health and safety of women and girls — specifically black women and girls.
Kelly’s team has suggested that he has been the victim of a public lynching. Beyond being ahistorical nonsense and an insult to actual black ancestors who were lynched, the truth is, Kelly has continued to make money at the same time as allegedly making young women his “pets” and prey. Calling for justice is not lynching. But indeed, it is time to press the mute button on R. Kelly. For good.