Behind the Fame: Surviving R. Kelly


Made by Canva

Students and teacher give opinion about show, Surviving R. Kelly

Micaih Thomas, Entertainment Editor

The document series, “Surviving R. Kelly,” released on Lifetime on Jan. 3, 2019. R. Kelly is an R&B singer known for records such as “Ignition,” “Step in the Name of love,” and for his alleged marriage with the late (underage) vocalist, Aaliyah. In the docu-series, victims of Kelly told their stories of how he abused them.

Millions of people went to Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms to share their opinions on this scandal. Even 105.7, a radio station ran by Steve Harvey, removed all of R. Kelly’s music from their station in response to the series. Although people of all colors, nationalities and backgrounds have thoughts on the R. Kelly series, junior Chloe Johnson thinks this conversation grew specifically within the black community.

“Black people are talking about it more than ever,” Johnson said. “It’s disgusting. [But] administrators don’t talk about it. In middle school, we talked about it, but it’s controversial now.”

The rape culture conversation in America is passed by countless times. On more than one instance, as seen in the series, the world refused to acknowledge black women. The series has brought this issue to light, however, the culture of sexual abuse continues to exist. Even when the sex tape of him and a victim released, the court gave him a free pass. People talked about rape culture for the longest time, but it finally surfaced to the light for everyone else to see when the series aired.

Besides the R. Kelly scandal, the dialogue around rape culture lacks within schools. English teacher, Rachel Ryan said if we refuse to talk about it, generations of youth will go into the world thinking consent is a given with any sexual situation.

“I think it should be talked about more,” Coach Ryan said. “It’s criminal, violent, and it has a stigma.”

Year after year, more than four in 10 black women experience abuse. More than 20 percent of black women will experience molestation and rape in their lifetime. Although the statistics in regards to sexual abuse against people of color are sad, schools refuse to teach students about consent or implement a dialogue around abuse in the curriculum. Assistant Principal Leonard Cousins said the R. Kelly scandal should stand as an eye-opener for students. Students and teachers should talk about topics like this in order to become more aware and prevent cycles of abuse.

“Educators step in wherever they’re needed. Some parents get offended [when we talk about sexual assault],” Mr. Cousins said. “Some parents aren’t talking about [sexual assault] with their kids.”

People have only found out about R. Kelly’s crimes when the document series aired, but the Me Too Movement has unconsciously existed for years. It yearns to exist in our workplaces, our college campuses, our neighborhoods and beyond the “America is great, and we have no issues” guise.  

“There’s always something you can do as an individual,” Mr. Cousins said. “If we continue heading the direction we’re headed now, we will see things we’ve never seen before.”