By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
For over twenty years, Robert Kelly, better known as R. Kelly, has been engrossed in controversy regarding crude behavior, to say the least, with young women- more specifically, teenage girls.
The R&B singer, who sang the chart-topping hit, I Believe I Can Fly, has spent almost 30 years in the music industry, and for the past 24, has been getting in trouble for his affinity for young women and allegations about sexual misconduct. From 1994, when at 25 he illegally married singer Aaliyah who was 15-years-old, to his most recent allegations of holding women against their will in a “sex cult” and giving a woman an STI, Kelly has been entangled in horrifying tales of sexual transgressions, and now social media activists, the Women of Color of Time’s Up (WOC |Time’s Up) and #MeToo are fighting to #MuteRKelly.
The Time’s Up campaign is taking aim at R. Kelly over numerous allegations he has sexually abused women. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)
Kelly has denied all allegations and on April 27 released a video statement on Twitter after a concert in Chicago was cancelled that said in part, “I never heard of a show being canceled because of rumors, but I guess it’s a first time for everything and I apologize to you guys, and in the meantime, I’m going to try and get to the bottom line of it, as far as my lawyers are concerned.”
The hashtag #MuteRKelly became popular on social media once the most recent rumors of the crooner’s behavior were reported. Time’s Up, a movement founded on Jan. 1 to empower women particularly victims of sexual harassment, assault and inequalities, released a statement written by the women of color with the organization, joining the effort to silence Kelly, and fully investigate all the allegations against him to convict him.
“We demand appropriate investigations and inquiries into the allegations of R. Kelly’s abuse made by women of color and their families for over two decades now,” a statement from the group said. “And we declare with great vigilance and a united voice to anyone who wants to silence: Their time is up.”
The WOC | Time’s Up are calling on various venues and corporations to disassociate themselves from Kelly. The organizations targeted include, RCA Records, Kelly’s label, Ticketmaster, the ticketing system issuing tickets for his upcoming May 11 show, Spotify and Apple Music, which stream his music and Greensboro Coliseum Complex in North Carolina, the venue hosting his concert on May 11.
According to Hello Beautiful, Ticketmaster released a statement that Kelly “is no longer performing at the “Pre-Mother’s Day Love Jam” on May 5 in Chicago.
Celebrities including, Oscar-nominated director Ava Duvernay, comedienne Amanda Seales, and actress Jurnee-Smollett-Bell were some of the popular, powerful women of color who contributed to the call for action to investigate Kelly’s alleged misdeeds.
Tarana Burke of #MeToo also weighed in on the effort to mute Kelly.
“This has been a long, hard, fought journey that SO MANY sisters have been on for more than a decade, Burke posted on Twitter. “This man is a predator and 100% of his victims have been Black and Brown girls. At times it felt like screaming into a well, but thank God for reckoning this coming.”