Thursday, July 31, 2008

R. Kelly Acquitted...An Update on the Criminal (In)Justice System

I was in Mexico on a work trip that also doubled as my honeymoon when R. Kelly was totally acquitted of 14 counts of child pornography and pedophilia. The victim and her family denied that she was the young woman in the sex tape that showed Kelley having sex with and urinating on a young Black woman that prosecutors said looked as young as 13 years old. Since I was out of the country and basically completely incommunicado I had not heard about the acquittal. The truth is I don't really know what to think or to do. If you can't get the majority of Black people in this country to care about the violence that is enacted against Black women or girls why should anybody else? I was deeply disturbed to see the number of Black women who jumped to his defense and attacked the victim; apparently they too have bought into the logic that all Black women are fundamentally "unrape-able" and in sexual terms are fair game for anyone after the age of 13.

For those who are confused let me spell it out for you
: When a grown man has sex with a minor it is rape. Even if she said yes it was rape. If it was midnight and her mother is trifling and didn't know where her daughter was or escorted her to the hotel at it was rape. If she asked for it, it was rape. I am not trying to say that there is no place for personal accountability, we all need that in our lives and I belive it is a vital part of social justice and transformation. But let's not confuse apples and oranges. Even if the girl made a poor decision, that does NOT excuse R. Kelly for sexually assaulting her -- and yes it was sexual assault. If you leave your house unlocked and I walk in and steal all of your belongings, would your neighbors say you deserved to be robbed? Absolutely not. But when it comes to Black women and other women of color, society treats our bodies as if they are public property that can be defaced and devalued at will.

Let me assure you, we and our bodies are not public property.

The day is coming, and soon, where Amerika is going to have to answer for its dehumanizing violence against Black women. Wake up, the chickens are coming home to roost real soon.

Here is a link to an article from
The Chicago Tribune covering the acquittal. All I can say is that for the Black women who defended R. Kelly, who sold out the victim, and who celebrated his acquittal, think long and hard about who you will call when you find out that a 35 year old man has just sexually assaulted your son or daughter. I believe with all of my heart that the metaphysical structure of this universe is a circle and the consequences of all the choices that we make individually and collectively find their way back to each of us in the end. But don't worry, the kindness of this universe is infinite, and when you come looking for justice, those of us who still believe in it will be here to help you fight for it.


Anonymous said...

So damn glad you talked about this. Our community only seems to rally around black men in peril. Worse yet the black "leadership" stays completely silent when black men are accused of physically/sexually abusing black women or they accuse the women of colluding with the man to bring brothers down. Things like this are good in a way because they force our community to ask why "black rights" are so often "rights of black men" or why blackness in general is automatically associated with maleness. I just wrote a long diatribe about this on my Facebook page two weeks ago coincidentally.

There were several troubling things about this case, first of all being how friggin long it took to bring it to trial. But the time it happened, witnesses had turned, the victims no longer wanted to admit involvement and evidence trails had dried up. On a wider scale we should be disturbed that rape cases are handled so callously. It's not just black women's bodies that are considered public property, it's women period. Don't you know that we all ask for it whether we are old enough, sober enough or stable enough to consent or not?

Katie said...

I was so so disappointed when the verdict came down. Not only is the system fucked (obvs) but R. Kelly seems truly fucked up as do the details of this case. I really can't comprehend how the people around him who enable his behavior sleep at night. On piles of money? The cash probably won't provide much comfort when Kelly comes for their child.

Did you see the Toure interview?

Oh and how ridiculous is it that Blagojevich hired Kelly's lawyers.