June 20, 2019

In her words: R. Kelly: Why So Many Ignored the Warning Signs

“It’s a situation ripe for men taking advantage of young girls,” Ms. Powers said in the documentary. “Sexual predation as an inconvenience in pop music is so old. It’s been going on for decades, centuries.”

When Chance the Rapper said this in the final episode of the documentary, he was speaking to a greater problem: that black girls are not believed when they speak up, and that they experience “adultification” — meaning they are perceived as older and less innocent than white girls, so there tends to be less shock when they are sexualized.

This has been supported by research, most notably in a 2017 study published by Georgetown Law which found that adults see black girls as “less in need of protection as white girls of the same age,” according to Rebecca Epstein, one of its authors.

A Times Opinion piece this week brought up the film “NO! The Rape Documentary,” created 20 years ago by the filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons. It was initially rejected by distributors, and in 1998, an executive from HBO told Ms. Simmons: “Let’s face it, very unfortunately, most people don’t care about the rape of black women and girls, and therefore we’re concerned that there won’t be many viewers who will tune in.”

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In an essay this week, my colleague Aisha Harris, a television editor, examined how “two cultural touchstones” helped keep people laughing at Mr. Kelly, thus helping to shape the public’s perception of the accusations.

The first was a 2003 sketch from “Chappelle’s Show” called “(I Wanna) Pee on You,” which parodied a widely distributed sex tape that appeared to show Mr. Kelly urinating on a 14-year-old girl. The second was a 2005 episode of the animated series “The Boondocks” titled “The Trial of R. Kelly,” in which a main character, a boy named Riley, defends Mr. Kelly, saying: “I’ve seen that girl! She ain’t little. I’m little.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/11/arts/surviving-r-kelly-accusations.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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