These were mostly young Black women. They were also Black girls.
That, according to his accusers and others calling for him to be held accountable, is part why it took so long for the criminal justice system to turn the wheels that led to his conviction Monday during his sextrafficking trial. They claim that it happened because of the efforts of Black women who were not willing to be forgotten.
Anyone who tries to speak out against violence and sexual assault is at risk. According to those who work in the field, the obstacles faced by Black women and girls are made worse by a society that sexualizes them at a young age, stereotypes them as promiscuous, and judges their bodies. This is also a country that has a long history of racism, sexism, and denies them their autonomy over their bodies.
Kalimah Johnson is the executive director of Detroit's SASHA Center, which offers services to survivors of sexual assault.
She said, "No one permits us to be something worthy protection." "A human that requires love, and sacredness." She said it as if there was nothing sacred about a Black woman’s body.
In , a 2017 study by the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality asked adults about their views of Black girls compared to white girls their age. They were also asked about their understanding of adult topics such as sex and their need for protection and nurturing.
Black girls are perceived as more mature than white girls at all ages. They need less protection and know more about sex. Black girls were more likely to be compared with white girls between the ages 10 and 14. Girls between 5 and 9 years old showed the largest gap between Black girls and white.
"We don’t value Black girls and they’re dehumanized and also blamed for the greater sexual violence they experienced than white girls," stated Rebecca Epstein, executive director at the center and one the study’s authors.
R. Kelly treated the abuse of girls at his hands as a joke for years. Even during a child pornography trial, where a video of him abusing a young girl was shown, it was more of a comedy than a serious crime. In 2008, he was acquitted.
Jim DeRogatis, a music writer, couldn't grasp it. DeRogatis and a colleague were the first people to report on R. Kelly’s interactions with girls in December 2000. DeRogatis wrote about it for many years.
DeRogatis believed that every time something was released, such as the video, it had to be it. That had to be the thing that made a difference. It wasn't every time.
DeRogatis was a middle-aged white male who came to realize that young Black girls are more important in society than anyone else.
He said it to the women and girls he interviewed. He said that the first thing he heard about all the women he interviewed was "Who's going be able to believe us?" We're Black girls."
R. Kelly went on making hits, performing with other artists and even calling himself the "Piecer", but he claimed he didn’t know the story of the musician who kidnapped children from a town.
Kelly was convicted Monday after weeks of disturbing testimony. It now stands the possibility of Kelly spending decades in prison.
Tarana Burke, the founder of the Me Too movement to end sexual abuse, highlighted the #MuteRKelly protest, which was started in 2017 by two Black women from Atlanta. It was a demonstration to pressure radio stations and venues to not play his music.
The most public condemnation came in the wake of 2019's "Surviving R. Kelly"executive, which was produced by dream hampton and was a Black woman.
Burke stated, "I believe it says that you must believe in your community's power because this wouldn't have happened without Black women sticking the course." "It was Black women that decided to take care of Black women and girls in their community.