My initial reaction after watching the first few episodes of “Surviving R. Kelly” was not dismissive; rather, I indulged like most did. My reasons included my curiosity surrounding his childhood and what caused him to become the man he is today.
Prior to watching the documentary, I heard about the number of sexual assault allegations, and now it all makes sense. As I sat at my desk that Saturday morning, fixated on the lack of repercussions for his actions, I began to think.
Can one man truly have all that power? Maybe money is the solution to all problems. Where were the parents? Were their testimonies genuine? And why are black women the most targeted but the least protected?
There were also reports that one of the victims, Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards, was releasing a song in lieu of the documentary being released. If you put two and two together, you too would be able to see where the speculation comes from. It made me question the authenticity of the accusers’ tears and testimonies.
Let’s face it, this isn’t the first time when people have questioned the allegations made against a black superstar. We live in an age in which the masses seek fame rather than fortune and 15 minutes can go a long way. It took me by surprise when I saw a video on Instagram of two of his accusers at his concert in the front row.
However, I did not let that deter me from the fact that there were other women in the documentary with real stories and real grief.
Like other sexual assault cases against men of stature, there is always more than just one accuser. There will be those accusers whose accusations are false. Though this shouldn’t be the case, it discredits the testimony of the other accusers.
Everyone who was involved with Robert Sylvester Kelly, aka R. Kelly, and knew of his actions but did not confront him are guilty as well. They stuck by his side because of money, fame and power: The three drugs that most people revere.
The hardest part is realizing that actions should’ve been taken against R. Kelly way before the new millennium. It is even harder for me personally to know the number of allegations and still decide to be a fan. It was difficult to digest the extent to which his actions affected the women involved and their families until I saw the pain and sorrow in their eyes.
In the end, the most crucial thing I realized while watching is that we all have demons. We all have vices that cause us to embrace the pain we’ve endured or acted out as a way to run from the problems that trouble us.