Thursday, June 26, 2008

Enough is Enough

What follows is a petition penned by my fellow Rutgers alum William Jelani Cobb on behalf of the mass of black men who understand why R.. Kelly's recent aquittal is no cause for celebration. If your share our sentiments, add your name. It's that simple.

To: Concerned African Americans

Statement of Black Men Against the Exploitation of Black Women

Six years have gone by since we first heard the allegations that R. Kelly had filmed himself having sex with an underage girl. During that time we have seen the videotape being hawked on street corners in Black communities, as if the dehumanization of one of our own was not at stake. We have seen entertainers rally around him and watched his career reach new heights despite the grave possibility that he had molested and urinated on a 13-year old girl. We saw African Americans purchase millions of his records despite the long history of such charges swirling around the singer. Worst of all, we have witnessed the sad vision of Black people cheering his acquittal with a fervor usually reserved for community heroes and shaken our heads at the stunning lack of outrage over the verdict in the broader Black community.

Over these years, justice has been delayed and it has been denied. Perhaps a jury can accept R. Kelly's absurd defense and find "reasonable doubt" despite the fact that the film was shot in his home and featured a man who was identical to him. Perhaps they doubted that the young woman in the courtroom was, in fact, the same person featured in the ten year old video. But there is no doubt about this: some young Black woman was filmed being degraded and exploited by a much older Black man, some daughter of our community was left unprotected, and somewhere another Black woman is being molested, abused or raped and our callous handling of this case will make it that much more difficult for her to come forward and be believed. And each of us is responsible for it.

We have proudly seen the community take to the streets in defense of Black men who have been the victims of police violence or racist attacks, but that righteous outrage only highlights the silence surrounding this verdict.

We believe that our judgment has been clouded by celebrity-worship; we believe that we are a community in crisis and that our addiction to sexism has reached such an extreme that many of us cannot even recognize child molestation when we see it.

We recognize the absolute necessity for Black men to speak in a single, unified voice and state something that should be absolutely obvious: that the women of our community are full human beings, that we cannot and will not tolerate the poisonous hatred of women that has already damaged our families, relationships and culture.

We believe that our daughters are precious and they deserve our protection. We believe that Black men must take responsibility for our contributions to this terrible state of affairs and make an effort to change our lives and our communities.

This is about more than R. Kelly's claims to innocence. It is about our survival as a community. Until we believe that our daughters, sisters, mothers, wives and friends are worthy of justice, until we believe that rape, domestic violence and the casual sexism that permeates our culture are absolutely unacceptable, until we recognize that the first priority of any community is the protection of its young, we will remain in this tragic dead-end.


The Undersigned


Blogger Larry D. Lyons II said...

This is about more than R. Kelly's claims to innocence. It is about our survival as a community. Until we believe that our daughters, sisters, mothers, wives and friends are worthy of justice, until we believe that rape, domestic violence and the casual sexism that permeates our culture are absolutely unacceptable, until we recognize that the first priority of any community is the protection of its young, we will remain in this tragic dead-end.

We ask that you:
o Sign your name if you are a Black male who supports this statement:

o Forward this statement to your entire network and ask other Black males to sign as well

o Make a personal pledge to never support R. Kelly again in any form or fashion, unless he publicly apologizes for his behavior and gets help for his long-standing sexual conduct, in his private life and in his music

o Make a commitment in your own life to never to hit, beat, molest, rape, or exploit Black females in any way and, if you have, to take ownership for your behavior, seek emotional and spiritual help, and, over time, become a voice against all forms of Black female exploitation

o Challenge other Black males, no matter their age, class or educational background, or status in life, if they engage in behavior and language that is exploitative and or disrespectful to Black females in any way. If you say nothing, you become just as guilty.

o Learn to listen to the voices, concerns, needs, criticisms, and challenges of Black females, because they are our equals, and because in listening we will learn a new and different kind of Black manhood
We support the work of scholars, activists and organizations that are helping to redefine Black manhood in healthy ways.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Shabaka said...

Signed, sealed & delivered!!!

4:34 PM  
Blogger taylorSiluwé ..... said...

As much as I believe in the blatant guilt of R. Kelly, and as much as I support turning our backs on him (actually, everything he touches we should 'piss' on) ...

... he played the system and it worked for him. And that tape which is alleged child-porn has been viewed by almost everyone I know, several of whom still own a cherished copy. When are we gonna begin rounding those people up? How long should they go to jail? Lord knows if the cops found a DVD with a regular guy screwing a thirteen year old in my collection I'd be locked-up and then a registered sex-offender forever.

This isn't about respecting women, or men for that matter. For every hour of every day there is and will always be some young boy or girl desperate to do anything for love -- especially with a celebrity. It's like beating your head against a wall that quickly repairs itself, but you still have the same headache.

I say its over ... write off R. Kelly; his next infectious 'Step in the Name ...' jam, don't let it get stuck in your head, no, don't do that brainless line dance that everyones doing ... 'cause he pees on little girls (and then gives them money to shut up about it). Funny thing though, while we stepped to the last one, we knew damn well about his little 'proclivity'.

We got much more important things to worry about than his sexcapades or anyone elses -- because we'll get bogged down forever.

He beat the system. Its over.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Darius T. Williams said...

Yea, he really did beat the system. As much I love R. Kelly, and as much as I really do think it was him on the video, it's about defense. The prosecution did a poor job setting up the case and providing substantial evidence. Kelly's defense team did what they had to do. In the end...kelly's a free man.

9:30 PM  
Blogger Larry D. Lyons II said...

a delayed but necessary response:

there are 100 reasons, taylor, why silently "getting over it" is a socially negligent and morally iressponsible way to proceed. there will always be another fire to put out. there's always a pressing matter that seems more deserving of our attention. but as i respect that its your prerogative to "move on", i hope that you'll respect that there are some of us for whom this insult, this perversion of justice constitutes the most saddening and resonant rally calls we've had in some time. for some of us, the legislative enabling of misogyny and child abuse fails to make the crime any less deplorable or the situation any more just.

in our eyes, he did not beat the system. let's not forget that "the system" is built to concentrate power amongst white moneyed men. as such, robert kelly tapped into the privilege afforded him by his wealth and his maleness to safeguard the abuse and exploitation of a black woman. that's not "beating" the system, taylor. that is an instance of using the master's tools to accomplish the master's work: the state-sponsored denigration of black working-class women and all others whose identity categories differ from those in power.

pardon us if we insist on being vocal and taking action. it's just that this brand of bullshit is all too familiar to tolerate in silence.

11:15 AM  
Blogger taylorSiluwé ..... said...

Wrong, Larry ...
I applaud speaking out and almost everything else that you do. This case however -- and some others of late where a jury's decision outraged the public -- I can not profess to know more from the sidelines and press snippets than the jury who saw the entire case presented from A to Z.

But you are right about him "using" the system instead of beating it, like I said earlier in my post describing it as 'playing' the system. But it doesn't change the fact that his using the system in place to his advantage caused a jury of 12 to send him home.

I won't argue with that or sign a petition. That particular case is over; and the 'victim' is probably in a tropical locale spending her hard earned pee money.

1:59 PM  

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