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R. Kelly calls campaign against him “attempted public lynching”

R. Kelly - When a Man Lies

R. Kelly has issued a statement through a representative in response to the #MuteRKelly Campaign, which women of color in the Time’s Up movement joined forces with through an open letter. As Variety reports, Kelly’s statement calls #MuteRKelly a “greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean him, his family and the women with whom he spends his time.” It continues, “Since America was born, black men and women have been lynched for having sex or for being accused of it. We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.”

Kelly supports the pro-women goals of the Time’s Up movement. We understand criticizing a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals—and in this case, it is unjust and off-target.

“We fully support the rights of women to be empowered to make their own choices. Time’s Up has neglected to speak with any of the women who welcome R. Kelly’s support, and it has rushed to judgment without the facts. Soon it will become clear Mr. Kelly is the target of a greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean him, his family and the women with whom he spends his time.

Kelly’s music is a part of American and African-American culture that should never—and will never—be silenced. Since America was born, black men and women have been lynched for having sex or for being accused of it. We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.

–Thanks for listening. R. Kelly management.

#MuteRKelly was started by Oronike Odeleye and Kenyette Barnes, who have campaigned to get Kelly’s concerts cancelled and his music off streaming sites and radio airwaves. As The Grio reports, they take credit for at least eight cancelled shows, in Baton Rogue, New Orleans, Dallas, Memphis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and Hampton Roads.

Women of color of Time’s Up, a movement against sexual harassment and assault, publicly declared their support for #MuteRKelly in an open letter. In it, they list some of the numerous accusations against R. Kelly, like his marriage to the then-15 year old Aaliyah, his indictment on child pornography charges, and the lawsuits for sexual misconduct and statuatory rape against him, and ask some of the corporations with ties to Kelly, including RCA Records and Ticketmaster, to “join us and insist on safety and dignity for women of all kinds.” They continue, “we demand appropriate investigations and inquiries into the allegations of R. Kelly’s abuse made by women of color and their families for over two decades now.” Read the full letter, via The Root, below.

Questlove and John Legend both took to Twitter in support of #MuteRKelly.

Vince Staples recently called R. Kelly “a piece of fucking shit” in an interview for Coachella’s YouTube page.

To Our Fellow Women of Color:

We see you. We hear you. Because we are you.

For too long, our community has ignored our pain. The pain we bear is a burden that too many women of color have had to bear for centuries. The wounds run deep.

As women of color within Time’s Up, we recognize that we have a responsibility to help right this wrong. We intend to shine a bright light on our WOC sisters in need. It is our hope that we will never feel ignored or silenced ever again.

The recent court decision against Bill Cosby is one step toward addressing these ills, but it is just a start. We call on people everywhere to join with us to insist on a world in which women of all kinds can pursue their dreams free from sexual assault, abuse and predatory behavior.

To this end, today we join an existing online campaign called #MuteRKelly.

Over the past 25 years, the man known publicly as R. Kelly has sold 60 million albums, toured the globe repeatedly and accumulated hundreds of millions of plays on radio and streaming services.

During this time, he also …

Married a girl under 18 years of age;
Was sued by at least four women for sexual misconduct, statutory rape, aggravated assault, unlawful restraint and furnishing illegal drugs to a minor;
Was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography;
Has faced allegations of sexual abuse and imprisonment of women under threats of violence and familial harm;

Together, we call on the following corporations and venues with ties to R. Kelly to join us and insist on safety and dignity for women of all kinds:

RCA Records: the venerable music label currently produces and distributes R. Kelly’s music;
Ticketmaster: the popular ticketing system is currently issuing tickets for R. Kelly’s show May 11;
Spotify and Apple Music: the popular streaming platforms currently monetizing R. Kelly’s music;
Greensboro Coliseum Complex: the North Carolina venue is currently hosting an R. Kelly concert May 11.

The scars of history make certain that we are not interested in persecuting anyone without just cause. With that said, we demand appropriate investigations and inquiries into the allegations of R. Kelly’s abuse made by women of color and their families for over two decades now. And we declare with great vigilance and a united voice to anyone who wants to silence us: Their time is up.

Together, We Are Strong,

WOC | TIME’S UP

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