The champion of the R&B of the 90’s was accused of pedophilia and sexual assault from decades ago, but eluded to the popular vengeance, supported by a loyal public. But, the long six hours, the documentary Surviving R. Kelly , indictment relentless released in early January, has made enough noise to get the singer 52-year-old suspect to pariah.
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The movement #MuteRKelly (shut R. Kelly), launched from Atlanta in 2017, is said to have led to the cancellation of 12 concerts, including some anticipated in Europe, and lost to the artist about $ 1.75 million. “R. Kelly has been able to acquire the power and status that it uses to avoid having to be accountable”, explains to the AFP Kenyette Barnes, co-founder of the organization. Their action, she said, “sends a message to the record industry and the entertainment, who themselves have a financial interest to spread their music: we say no.”
“The United States has tended to ignore women in general, but it is far worse to black women.”
For the sociologist and activist Shanita Hubbard, the complacency which has long enjoyed Robert Kelly, his real name, is due, in part, to the fact that his alleged victims were black women from modest background. For Moya Bailey, a professor at Northeastern university and an activist for the cause of women, african-american, the idea persists in the collective imagination that black women are attracted to the violence. “Since slavery, people have sought to justify the violence against black women, in particular sexual violence,” she said. “It shows black women in a way hypersexualisée to explain how they are treated.”
In the case of R. Kelly, the fact that the artist is himself black, has contributed to what it has for a long time of doubt, a significant part of the black community is suspicious of the american judicial system. “People want to protect Kelly in a world where black men have been and continue to be put in jail unjustly,” says Moya Bailey. But for it, this mixture is really dangerous”. Even if his case is without doubt one of the most serious, R. Kelly is far from being the only singer or musician accused of sexual violence.
The american singer Chris Brown was arrested mid-January in Paris, after a woman accused him of rape, allegations he denies in the block. He had been sentenced in 2009 for assault on singer Rihanna, for which he shared the life, at the time. The producer of rap Russell Simmons has been accused of sexual assault and rape by several women. Although he has denied these alleged facts, he resigned, by the end of 2017, all functions within their companies. But many artists continue to work in the music despite the accusations, stresses Moya Bailey, for whom the industry “considers the harassment as the norm”.
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Encouraged by the first results of its campaign, which lasts for almost two years already, Kenyette Barnes is optimistic, however. After a first about-face in may 2018, during which she was taken directly to R. Kelly before going back, the platform of online music Spotify now lets you block certain artists. At the end of months of radio silence, Sony has decided to no longer collaborate with R. Kelly, who was part of the stables of its subsidiary RCA. “Rome was not built in a day,” she said. “It will take time to dismantle it all. But the company is coming.”