I have not watched the documentary, Surviving R Kelly, which seeks to portray R. Kelly as a sexual predator and all. I do not know the man. I cannot speak to the validity or otherwise of claims made in the documentary. And because I have not met the man and I do not know his ex-wife or any of the women making these claims against him, I cannot claim to know that the claims made in the documentary are true or otherwise.
This is what I know: I respect the work of the artist. His work, especially his 2004 hit album, You Saved Me/Happy People, was one of the greatest tools that helped form the resilient, focused, and redoubtable man that I am today. Hit songs like The Storm Is Over, I Believe I Can Fly, If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time, When A Woman Loves, and many more inspirational music of this artist is still doing for individuals around the world, what many of his songs did, and is still doing for me. Which is to lift me up whenever I am down, buoy my faith, and cheer me up. There are few artists whose work can do all these things.
I know this too, I have been ganged up on by multiple women. Not for similar case as R. Kelly the man. But a much more worse situation. I was married, and my ex-wife was living a reckless lifestyle that endangered the wellbeing of our baby we just gave birth to. When I could not talk her out of it, I enlisted the help of Texas Child Protective Services and when the women of CPS saw that I was an immigrant and my ex-wife is American by birth, they turned on me. All of them. They knew my ex-wife’s lifestyle posed a grave danger to our son’s wellbeing but because they wanted to make a statement, they cared less about our son’s welfare. My ex-wife told them that I had an African girlfriend and that I wanted to take our son and go and form a new family with my African girlfriend. And that was all it took for objectivity, professionalism, and the need to investigate my ex-wife’s abuse of our son got thrown out of the window. I could not believe that people whose job it is to protect the welfare of a child was enabling my ex-wife to beat drug tests, falsify reports to make me look bad, and enlist the help of her friends to give false testimonies about her ability to be a mother. At a point, when they could not discourage me to stop fighting for my son, these CPS ‘investigators’ took issues with me. They tried to muscle my ex-wife to go and get a restraining order against me on a false claim, so I can stop seeing my son. My ex-wife was a good person who made wrong choices. She said no to that. I had to fight them back through their office of consumer relations. And I eventually had to go the route of divorce to save my son from her destructive lifestyle.
What am I saying? That someone lined people up to shed tears on camera and make claims against another person does not mean that the accused is guilty. Out of our unanchored emotions these days, men and women alike, and this inexplicable and sinister need to jump in on the bandwagon, many have hastily forgot that there are laws in this land. And as far as I am concerned, no court of the land have found R. Kelly the man guilty of the claims against him. And as I write this piece, I have not heard about any charges filed against him based on these claims. So how can we just declare a man guilty and go after his life’s work simply because someone aired a documentary? Did we offer R. Kelly the man the opportunity to defend himself before we throw him out to wolves? Just as in my case against CPS personnel who chose to use their government offices to harass me because “I did not know my place,” have we tried to question the motive behind this documentary. Have we tried to look into the relationship, past and present, between the producer of this documentary and the man, R. Kelly? What is in it for her? where is the “Why”? Have we become so dumb to objectivity and skepticism?
People can be paid to say whatever we want them to say on camera. If Vice President Cheney can manufacture false intelligence for reason to invade Iraq and enlist a reputable man of the caliber of General Powell to sell it to the world, c’mon the State of Illinois. How can you deny a harmless citizen whose music inspires, the permit to host a concert in your state while you give white supremacist permits to carry out murderous parades all over the country, Charlottesville and Washington DC?
But even if the claims made in this documentary is true, yet there is a difference between R. Kelly the man and R. Kelly the artist. You can hate the man, but you do not have to seek to destroy his work. If the producers of this documentary, after airing the documentary, would ask for public officials to investigate the claims made by the women in the documentary and take the position that if public officials should find that crimes were committed, to prosecute it. Then I would have respect for their work. But the motive behind the documentary has no root in law, due process, investigative journalism, or objectivity. No. The motive is rooted in personal vendetta. A campaign of calumny. A desire to destroy not only a man, but more importantly, his legacy. And that is the reason why even though the producers cannot state unequivocally that any of the claims made by the women in the documentary are credible when put to the true test of the law, yet they quickly condemned R. Kelly the man and then went after the work of R. Kelly the artist, to destroy his legacy. And that is very wrong.
I know the R. Kelly the man is not a saint and just like any person in position of power, men and women alike, who people go to for stuff, he may have exploited that position. He may have given these girls who may want to appear in his music videos false hope. He may have promised too much than he can deliver. I have no doubt that R. Kelly the man exploited these women sexually. But they asked for it. Let us not take that responsibility away from them. A Nigerian man in his desperation to come to America, rather than follow the right process of going to the embassy and figuring it out with consular officers, chose to pay a delta airline staff millions of Naira to smuggle him into the baggage compartment of one of their airplanes and bring him to America. The airplane tire crushed him midair. And this was discovered after the plane landed and blood was discovered on the tires of the airplane. His family should not blame the airline or the staff that accepted his bribe for the fate that befell their son. We are all enslaved by our wants.
Tell me, which celebrity, or even a common man, who you can put a spotlight on and you will not find something terribly disgusting about him or her? The producer of this show and every other person who have an opinion, included. So should we all stop shopping at Walmart or buying computers?
If avowed KKK members who by their own on-air admissions, maimed, killed, and destroyed the lives of many black people, out of sheer hatred, can act repentant, write an expose about their hateful exploits, and make millions out of their destructive racism. And America would not have a problem with that. Give me a break, Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music. The worst is that I have to listen to their interviews on Fresh Air, All Things Considered, and Here And Now, because they will always come to public radio to market their books. I am an NPR junkie. The question then becomes, how the heck does any of these self-righteous persecutors of the artist defend their war on his music even when the man has denied all allegations against him, even when no court in the land have found him guilty of any crime, even when no charges has been brought against him?
Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora, please grow some balls and learn to say to these hateful people, ‘until a charge is brought against this artist in a court of law and until he is actually convicted in a court of law for a crime emanating from these claims, we will restore his music on our platform. We are a business, we do not trade on unanchored emotions, and certainly we cannot be used for personal vendetta ends.’