R. Kelly, Rape Culture, & Race

The news is out that R&B artist R. Kelly is releasing another album entitled Black Panties. After hearing the title alone, I thought to myself, “Yep, this will be another compilation of songs about sex, sex and more sex.” After all, sex sells.

So, Kelly decided to go on twitter to promote himself by opening a forum with the hashtag ‘#askrkelly’. Many people came and asked questions, but it backfired on Kelly. You see, they know that not only is he known for crooning, he’s also known for his sexual escapades of underage lust that has spanned more years than we know, until recently, with at least a dozen teenage girls.

r-kelly-rapistBefore Kelly’s pedophilia past surfaced, due primarily to an article by Jessica Hopper and her interview with journalist Jim DeRogatis which I encourage you all must read if you haven’t already, news broke out that actor Paul Walker, famous for his role in the Fast and Furious movie series, died soon after a severe car accident. In almost no time after his death, we hear how the actor has – himself – been in a relationship with a then-underage girl, Jasmine Pilchard-Gosnell who later became his girlfriend .

Now, as far as numbers go Walker’s one known relationship pales in comparison to Kelly’s detestable track record. And the latter is a major topic in entertainment news seeing as how he’s still free to sing and continue his pedophilia.

I was talking to one guy on Twitter who had a problem with Kelly’s sexual deviant behavior being disclosed which, to him, is nothing but hype. It was kinda ironic that the dude was white and that he would defend Kelly while asking why the same media is passive about Walker’s teenage hookup.

As far as we know, Walker only had one relationship with a minor. Maybe two. R. Kelly, on the other hand, is addicted to teenage girls and court records prove this.

I must admit that the subject of rape is quite different for black folks. Black males are stereotyped as being the biggest rapists in history, according to racist and “race realist” white folks. We are viewed as being oversexed, hypersexual and too stupid to control our ravenous craving for vaginas, especially white vaginas.

The myth of the black male rapist has lead to racial hoaxes which has lead to trouble for entire black communities severe enough to destroy whole towns. The Rosewood Massacre is a prime example. For years, black men have been falsely accused of raping white women by white women even in cases were white males were the real perpetrators. Needless to say, the backlash was devastating to blacks.

The subject of rape is rarely discussed openly and honestly. It is a loaded subject on all fronts. Most rapes and sexual assaults in this country are grossly underreported. We go by numbers instead of asking more information behind those numbers, and as such, we assume that either rape is not as major a crime as indicated or that we assume that most women somehow ask for it.

We live in a culture of victim blaming. We blame victims of rape more often than we point the finger at rapists. We say and do whatever’s possible to turn those at fault into victims and victims into ‘reasons’ why they they were victimized in the first place.

Society has inaccurately pictured the rapist as an unknown deviant hiding in the shadows of dark alleys ready to jump out and sexually assault women. While that does happen, most rape victims know their attackers.

As mentioned earlier, black men are stereotyped as boogeymen out to deflower unsuspecting white women. Meanwhile, white men don’t live with the stigmas or the tension no matter how many of them are rapists and no matter how their victims are. And celebrities, no matter what their race is, always get the benefit of a doubt and continued acclamation.

Giving this nation’s history of racism and sexism, many black people automatically assume that a black man, especially a famous black man, accused of rape or sexual assault is a victim of a lying-ass female. But the harsh truth is that despite the stereotype of being natural-born rapists and how some rape accusations were false, there are indeed black men among us who ARE rapists.

Stating that we do have black male rapists is NOT the same as saying that most or all black men are rapists. Many of us fear of our people falling into negative racist stereotypes. We fear of white people having the last laugh. Still, the reality is that men from all races and all backgrounds commit violent acts against women. And black men are no exception.

Filmmaker Bryon Hurt explains the need to own and challenge this issue head on in the case of Florida State University football star and Heisman trophy recipient Jameis Winston:

But we must resist the temptation to assume that Jameis Winston falls into the category of Black men who have been falsely accused of rape – a lamentable historical pattern. To do so would be unfair to the rape victim. We shouldn’t automatically assume that he did not commit the crime because he is being set up, or that his team’s championship season is being sabotaged, or that there is a witch hunt against Winston and his Heisman campaign.

It is true that Black men continue to be cruelly stereotyped as rapists. As a Black man, I carry that label – and all of the other stereotypes associated with Black men – wherever I go in our country. However, it is also a stereotype that women lie about being victims of rape more often than not. According to FBI statistics, less than 3% of all rapes are falsely reported.

If rape is to be confronted in its entirety, singling out one group is a huge disservice to all people. Defending men who, without a doubt, have committed sexual violence, must cease, whether they are famous or not.

Society needs to admit that rapists come in all colors, especially white. Black folks, we need to face up to the fact that there are black male sexual predators destroying the lives of black women. For too long, many of us have been silent and inactive about the mistreatment of black females by black males for the sake of peer and racial pressure. If we say and do nothing, then what does that tell us about how we truly feel about ourselves? And if we continue this apathy, where do you think that will lead us in the future?

R. Kelly will continue praying on young girls for as long as society not only enables him, but encourages him to use it inspire more R&B porn as evidenced by his album cover. For that, I’ll leave you with this blunt truth as quoted by Jim DeRogatis for those insisting on defending R. Kelly:

“…Nobody matters less to our society than young black women”