R. Kelly accusations bring awareness about sexual assault and racism

April 9, 2019

By Nicolle Tyszka
Staff Writer

Robert Sylvester Kelly, better known as R. Kelly, is a 52-year-old American singer, songwriter, record producer and former professional basketball player from Chicago, Illinois. While he used to be known for his uplifting R&B chart-topper “I Believe I Can Fly” and his pop collaboration with Lady Gaga in “Do What U Want,” Kelly is now infamously known for his non-consensual sexual activity and filming of female minors.

As a result of these illegal acts, R. Kelly has been charged with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse, according to CNN.  Aggravated criminal sexual abuse has a sentencing range of three to seven years in prison per count, as it is a class two felony.

New York Magazine reported that in 1994, 27-year-old Kelly married a 15-year-old whose marriage certificate was falsified to list her as 18. While neither person admitted to the marriage, it is proven that it was annulled months after the ceremony.

Back in 2008, a sex tape of the singer with a girl who was alleged to be 14 years old landed Kelly with multiple child-pornography charges, but he was found not guilty on all counts.

Kelly’s current legal troubles relate to an alleged sex cult in which he allegedly preyed on young black women, two of whom say they were held against their will at Kelly’s rental properties. The women, a 19-year-old from Georgia and an 18-year-old from Florida who was 17 at the time she met Kelly, said they were subjected to emotional abuse in which Kelly was “dictating what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records,” according to a BuzzFeed report.

The fact that the young women involved in the alleged sex cult run by Kelly seem not to be taken as seriously as they should be exposes racism in American culture. If they were while females, the media and public would not cast doubt on their allegations. Claims of abuse among minority women are not given the attention and respect they deserve because of the deep-rooted prejudice that has plagued this nation for far too long.

The abomination of racial discrimination needs to cease to truly honor the 14th Amendment that grants everyone liberty and not “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Despite legal segregation being terminated in the U.S., racism still exists in the minds of some Americans.

If allegations against Kelly are true, then he has committed heinous violations of human rights. These crimes have been swept under the rug for far too long, and it is thanks to the #MeToo Movement that the media and the public has finally been willing to acknowledge the ugly truths of the celebrities they have looked up to.

More attention needs to be brought to the prevalence of sexual abuse, not only among celebrities, but people in general. Unreported sexual assaults caused rape to rank as the most under-reported crime in the nation, reaching a staggering 63 percent according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 81 percent of women and 35 percent of men report significant short or long-term impacts of sexual assault, with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder being among them. Sexual violence has lasting effects on the lives of victims, and the R. Kelly allegations have presented an opportunity for further discussion about rape culture in America.

The U.S. is meant to be a country where all people feel safe and protected. To that end, there is much more work to be done.

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