The Surviving R. Kelly documentary was released earlier this month, and the reactions to it have abounded across the internet. Everyone watched, and everyone seems to have an opinion on R. Kelly, the women who gave detailed accounts of their experiences with him, and who is really to blame for it all.
As people argue online about the credibility of these women, who enabled R. Kelly, and whether or not abuse begetting abuse is an acceptable reason to ease up on critique of predators, there is one area that seems to be getting glossed over: that black women and girls are not protected. Many parts of the world seem to be just waking up to this fact, while others of us have known this to be true for quite some time.
But, what about that part? Yes, it is nice to see people on the grand stage seemingly acknowledging the hard-wired skepticism most people have in determining whether or not dark-skinned women and girls can be victims. It was a relief to have Chance the Rapper admit (on behalf of more people than just himself) that he did not bother to look closely at R. Kelly or his accusers because the purported victims were black. But what does all of this admission and public discussion of remorse actually mean for dark-skinned women? Are we now “safe”? Can we now trust that if confronted with violence or abuse that others can plainly see that we will have the same avenues for protection and justice as other races of women? I have a few thoughts.