FRANKLIN: R. Kelly isn’t the only one “canceled”

Cartoon illustrated by Deshatey Coleman

I remember when I was younger hearing my mom play songs like “Step in the Name Love” and “I Believe I Can Fly”. The Grammy award winning singer from my hometown Chicago was often played by my parents in my childhood years. I remember my first time driving past R. Kelly’s former home in Olympia Fields, a suburb of Chicago. I thought it was interesting seeing how close I lived next to a celebrity. However, I had no clue what was happening beyond the big gates that stood in front of his mansion. Last week Lifetime released a three night series entitled “Surviving R. Kelly”. The series unveiled many rumors that I had heard about growing up.


I heard the crazy stories like one about Kelly urinating in a girl’s mouth. As I watched the documentary over my weekend my mind was filled with countless tough questions. For me personally, I believed it seemed almost pointless to contemplate answering them because there is enough evidence to support that what he did is true. I found listening to the victims’ stories very disturbing. I had to remind myself, hurt people, hurt people. R. Kelly was molested as a child and a cycle of abuse was created. Because he was taken advantage of, he decided to do the same to many young girls. Too often in the black community when something painful like this happens we don’t always get help. Every child deserves to chance to grow up as a child. Instead of R. Kelly getting help, he continued the cycle of abuse. Molesting a child is the worst crime and the innocence of a child should never be taken away.


R. Kelly is clearly sick but so are the countless people across the world doing the same thing he’s doing. I’m not justifying his horrific actions however, I find it even more disturbing that there were people who supported him during his wrongdoings. His crewmembers who gave R. Kelly’s phone number on notes to the young high school girls in the mall and the people who saw the bedroom in the middle of the recording studio and didn’t speak up are just as guilty. There were so many people around him who supported him for money. R. Kelly is a talented singer but he is also a damaged person who made some horrible choices to damage others. 


Allegations against R. Kelly have been around for many years and for a lot of those years a majority of the black community turned the blind eye to them. “Step in the Name of Love” continued to be played at weddings. “I Believe I Can Fly” was performed at churches. “Ignition Remix” was played at every homecoming dance I went to in high school. Black people have a long history of dealing with abuse. As the allegations were coming out of him molesting young girls people still supported him. Even after the documentary came out days later R. Kelly celebrated his birthday at a nightclub in Chicago. The crowd sang along as he performed several hits. Some women even yelled “pee in my mouth”. 


As disturbing as it is, it’s not surprising because people continue to be wrapped up in his fame and fortune.