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.