Opinion Editor Katie Baker expresses her anger towards infamous rapper R. Kelly (right), who has recently been charged for sex trafficking. Photo courtesy of Julia Meassick / The Snapper
If you’ve never heard of R. Kelly, this article is going to give you a brief summary of arguably one of the worst men to ever walk this earth. Known by many as the “King of R&B,” Kelly has just been convicted of nine charges of sex trafficking.
To make matters even worse, this is not even close to being the first time that this man has been convicted of sexual misconduct: In the 1990s, he married a teenager, then considered a minor controversy; in 2002 a video of him having sex with and urinating on a 14-year-old girl circulated the internet; A decade ago Kelly was acquitted on charges of child pornography. The reason he was acquitted was not that there was any doubt that he abused the 14-year-old girl, but because the jury refused to believe the other 14 witnesses who spoke on trial to identify the girl. One of those witnesses who spoke was the aunt of the 14-year-old girl who was assaulted by Kelly This is absolutely ridiculous. On Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, Kelly was convicted of eight counts of sex trafficking and one of racketeering.
The worst part of this whole string of events is that it took an immense amount of evidence from dozens of victims of Kelly’s actions. He was able to compile an extensive list of teen victims that were hiding in plain sight. They’re forced to deal with his abusive and manipulative actions simply because of his wealth and status as a celebrity.
There are still millions of people who support Kelly’s music by attending his concerts, buying his music, and covering the media for him. The media saw the hundreds of victims as a way to build his brand and were apathetic to his actions.
In the documentary Surviving R. Kelly (2019), several women step forward to share their stories about their relationship with him. Between mothers, bodyguards, and the survivors, they all relive the traumatic experiences that they faced because society allowed a man to continuously get away with sexual abuse in minors. The reason for sharing their story was not to receive sympathy from others but to help the world understand what has been going on over the years.
Kelly’s conviction is a monumental step in the movement to end the mistreatment of Black women and girls in our society. There is a constant play of racism and misogyny that encourages abuse and until we stand against these injustices, predators like Kelly will continue to get away with these actions.
This conviction is just the beginning of justice. It should remind us of the importance of standing next to the girls who have faced years of abuse and felt beyond vulnerable. Sexual harassment and abuse are real, and these teen girls will never be able to live normal lives thanks to the injustices they faced by Kelly.