It’s time to shut R. Kelly down. For good.

Singer has faced many law­suits for sex­ual in­volve­ment with un­der­age girls

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - KAREN ATTIAH Karen Attiah is global opin­ions edi­tor for the Wash­ing­ton Post

Enough is enough.

I don’t care how many hits R. (Robert) Kelly, 50, has had. I don’t care how many Gram­mys he has won. I don’t care about how rich he is or how long he has been in the game. Right now, I don’t care about “Ig­ni­tion,” “Trapped in the Closet” or “I Be­lieve I Can Fly.”

For decades now, the lis­ten­ing pub­lic has given that man power, fame and money — the same tools that he re­port­edly uses to prey on girls. On the one hand, he wields his tal­ents to en­ter­tain us, while on the other he al­legedly uses them to de­stroy the lives of black girls. And Amer­ica doesn’t give a damn.

Af­ter a months-long in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Buz­zFeed con­trib­u­tor Jim DeRo­gatis re­ports that Kelly lured a num­ber of young women into what their fam­i­lies de­scribed to po­lice as an “abu­sive cult.” Ac­cord­ing to in­ter­views with for­mer mem­bers of Kelly’s in­ner cir­cle, DeRo­gatis doc­u­ments that “six women live in prop­er­ties rented by Kelly in Chicago and the At­lanta sub­urbs, and he con­trols ev­ery as­pect of their lives: dic­tat­ing what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they en­gage in sex­ual en­coun­ters that he records.”

At least one of the women has told po­lice that she is fine. Kelly’s lawyer has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, say­ing “We can only won­der why folks would per­sist in de­fam­ing a great artist who loves his fans, works 24/7, and takes care of all of the peo­ple in his life.”

This is not new.

We knew about Kelly’s tryst with a young Aaliyah Haughton. He mar­ried the late singer, who went by just Aaliyah, when she was 15 in 1994, af­ter she claimed she was 18 on their mar­riage cer­tifi­cate. He wrote and pro­duced her hit song “Age Ain’t Noth­ing But a Num­ber.” How sub­tle of him.

We knew about Kelly go­ing to trial on 14 counts in a 2002 child pornog­ra­phy case af­ter a video of him sur­faced ap­pear­ing to have sex with an un­der­age girl. He was ac­quit­ted.

We knew, ac­cord­ing to DeRo­gatis’s re­port­ing, that Kelly would take trips to his old high school in Chicago to try to have sex with sopho­more-age girls in the school gospel choir.

Th­ese women have names, and a num­ber of them have pur­sued le­gal jus­tice against Kelly. Tif­fany Hawkins sued him, claim­ing he pres­sured her into group sex with other girls when she was 15. They set­tled out of court.

Tracy Samp­son sued him, claim­ing he had sex with her when she was un­der­age. They set­tled out of court.

Pa­trice Jones sued him, claim­ing he im­preg­nated her when she was un­der­age. They set­tled out of court.

Then Mon­tina Woods sued him, af­ter tapes of her hav­ing sex with Kelly ap­peared in a com­pi­la­tion sold by boot­leg­gers. They set­tled out of court.

We’ve known. My God, we’ve known. And we’ve largely done noth­ing. Kelly over the years has al­ways de­nied the al­le­ga­tions. And yet the hits keep com­ing. The record la­bels keep pro­duc­ing him. The venues keep book­ing him, even af­ter the lat­est al­le­ga­tions. We keep buy­ing show tick­ets. Other celebri­ties con­tinue to work with him and pro­duce songs, in­clud­ing Kanye West, Justin Bieber and the sup­pos­edly pro­gres­sive Lady Gaga. Buz­zFeed asked 43 of Kelly’s for­mer col­lab­o­ra­tors if they would work with him again. Their non-an­swers were not sur­pris­ing.

The saga of Robert Kelly says more about Amer­ica, in­clud­ing black Amer­ica, than it does him­self. We have to ask our­selves, why? Why have we al­lowed Kelly, a.k.a. the Pied Piper, to lull us to sleep with his songs, un­able to hear or see his al­leged vic­tims who have been speak­ing out for a long time? What if th­ese women — or girls, in many cases — were white? (The ac­cusers have pre­dom­i­nantly been black women.)

The tragic truth is that Kelly’s al­leged acts are de­pen­dent on the in­vis­i­bil­ity of black women and girls in the United States — as long as black women are seen to be a caste not wor­thy of pro­tec­tion and care in Amer­i­can so­ci­ety, his ac­tions won’t re­ceive wide­spread out­cry and pub­lic pres­sure. Com­pare this with the vil­i­fi­ca­tion of Kanye West when he went af­ter Taylor Swift at an awards show. What if Kelly caused even a frac­tion of the out­rage West did?

We are in the age of #Black­LivesMat­ter. We should know bet­ter than to be sup­port­ing a man who re­port­edly uses his fame and power to prey on black girls. At least this black woman has had enough. It’s time to shut R. Kelly down for good.

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