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Say, Bruh | For Brothers Still Defending R. Kelly

F**k R. Kelly.

Not in the way we usually bash celebrities. No, in a real, only-his-security-and-my-children-are-keeping-me-from-stepping to-him or I would be in jail kind of way. I mean it like Nipsey and YG meant it in that song about Julius. F**K. R. KELLY. (Note: ** replaces “uc.”)

It’s strange to me that so many of us with penises still support him. We pose with our daughters on prom night, holding firearms, telling jokes, like “Whatever you do to my daughter, I’ll do to you,” yet when face-to-face with a rapist and victim, we don’t believe the abused. Why?

Say, bruh. This is me talking to us.

Before the most recent reminder of Kelly (eff him) being the predator we already knew he was, a smart Facebook friend asked: “How do you suppose that we are able to live among, accept and have grace and empathy for and feel like there is redemption for thieves, robbers, liars, poisoners of our community, even killers and rapists… but once a woman is a “whore,” she is forever less than human never worthy of your respect, and whatever happens to her is what she deserves?

What is it about what a woman does with her own body that’s worse than the myriad of abuses people inflicted upon her?People, especially brothers, have found all manner of ways to dismiss the most recent accusations against Kelly (eff him). Let’s work through a few of them.

This “girls and women should change their behavior” chorus. In this latest case, it’s justification after justification about how these women are grown and need to accept responsibility. Cool, but that leaves me wondering how and what reason(s) men keep dodging theirs. How do we continue to take all the credit, none of the blame? All the leadership and none of the responsibility? This seriously doesn’t even look like the style of patriarchy I am working to disrupt; it looks and sounds like the logic of my middle school buddies and me. I am a man. I’ve worked hard over the past few years at challenging and being challenged about my problematic, sexist thinking. I’m proud of my growth, and looking forward to more of it. Are you?

This is different because Kelly (eff him) is in a BDSM relationship. People with this excuse obviously know nothing of how important choice and consent are in that community. I am not an expert, I ain’t even into it, but a quick google search and a couple conversations with people who are, told me that BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadomasochism), as a lifestyle is dependent on informed consent and negotiations. Control seems like it would be in the hands of those in submission. I mean, if they say stop, the dominant person has no one to be dominant over. Where was Kelly’s (eff him) boundaries and respect? Also, what kind of sexual relationship means you can’t talk to your partner?

R. Kelly (eff him) is like Hugh Hefner. No. After watching the Amazon miniseries, “American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story,” I bought a Playboy key for my own Playboy mansion in south Jackson (that gets little action, by the way). I respect the empire he built; Playboy is smart and funny. With that said, the empire was built with women who chose to be a part of it, pose nude in magazines and be compensated. This Kelly (eff him) stuff ain’t Hugh Hefner-like. It’s about preying on women — seeing a weakness and exploiting it for personal gain. He is a predator who used his celebrity to turn “The Voice” contestants into shells of themselves because he could.

He’s a gifted musician. It saddens me to know if it wasn’t R. Kelly (eff him), I probably wouldn’t be this upset. That’s because I know I likely wouldn’t know about it. But I do, so I am. He has shown us who he is repeatedly. The album “12 Play” was in 1993. First, there’ve been plenty talented R&B singers on radio airwaves since then. It won’t hurt you to let one go. We know now what the abuser did with Aaliyah back then too. And since, we’ve seen (or heard about) the tape of him and the other girl. We saw the Ed Gordon and Huffpost Live interviews. If you somehow missed it, here’s the GQ interview and the Village Voice article too. What music has he created to warrant this level of defense? It can’t be produce “One in a Million.” He didn’t. Was “Back and Forth” that jamming? It baffles me that anyone could have seen that tape then listened to “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number” and not been disgusted.

Black men are under attack. The truth isn’t an attack. We have our issues, yes. Society can be as cruel to us as it is to our mothers, sisters, daughters and the other womyn in our lives. But, yeah. The truth is just the truth.

Not long after this most recent Kelly (eff him) disturbance came to light, I watched “The Defiant Ones” on Netflix one night, where I learned JJ Fad’s success financially supported NWA. Whatever came of JJ Fad? Not much beyond “Supersonic,” I imagine now, because NWA took off.

How do we consistently sacrifice our daughters for the benefit of our sons? We love money so much we willingly sit in the company of rapists and abusers with the hope that one day our socioeconomic status might change quickly then wonder why so many of them are distrustful of and angry at us. If we believe Malcolm X that the most disrespected and unprotected person in America is the black woman, we must do more than repeat it. It’s imperative our words and actions mirror. That means being honest with ourselves.

So what is it for us about what a woman does with her own body that’s worse than the myriad of abuses people inflicted upon her? It’s rarely about what’s best for her, but another way to control and reinforce a lack of a choice and power in her life. It’s about being what someone with a penis defines for her and not about her being who and what she thinks is best for herself and the world. It’s control feigning as concern. (That lowkey makes you an abuser too.) If I see it, our counterparts certainly do.

Brothers, we’ve got to stop it. And if you want a song that’s as catchy as “Ignition (Remix),” write it your damn self.


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