Stand By Your Man?

Najee Ali (left) and Dwight Taylor (right) protest outside the Cook County Criminal Courthouse before singer R. Kelly arrives for the first day of jury selection in his child pornography trial. (Brian Jackson/Sun-Times)

I meant to blog on the R. Kelly trial before now, but have been bogged down by other things.

I saw the infamous tape when it was making the rounds several years back (call it inquisitiveness.. but really I was just being nosey). After viewing it, and believing wholeheartedly that the man on the tape was R. Kelly, I haven't been able to stomach his music since. And I honestly can't say I understand how others can still be fans. Yes, the man can write a freaky song... but some laud him as a 'genius'.

Um, don't geniuses contribute random acts of brilliance that benefit society as a whole? Like, you know, write Nobel prize-winning novels, create scientific models or come close to curing cancer? Someone feeling on your boo-hoo-teeee doesn't isn't an equivalent to that. If R. Kelly's merit is based on his song-writing ability, then it would stand to reason that his merit has drastically diminished. He hasn't written anything of value since, what, Step In The Name of Love? I Wish?

His ability to write a catchy hook can't overpower the queasy feeling I get in my stomach when I hear his voice. I think its because he had the audacity to call himself the Pied Piper... but mostly it reminds me of that dirty old man in every black neighborhood. You know the one, who tempted young girls with candy or pocket change in order to cop a feel? Or even just spend time with them? Maybe it was Uncle Leroy, the 'strange' uncle in the family that everyone was wary of. Heck, maybe it was someone's dad, grandad, or older brother. But the R. Kelly, love-with-young-girls phenomenon really gets to me because black women are so willing to turn a blind eye.

How many women would have stood with the men, as pictured above, to protest against R. Kelly? Or how many women would join the one who got led out in handcuffs for yelling "Free R. Kelly!" in the court room?

Yes, some brothers are silent on the topic too. And some of those brothers have daughters. We have seen by the rate of single motherhood that we can't always rely on men to protect us, especially when they're not around. What's appalling to me, though, is how we as women don't protect and fight for each other. One morning, while I was driving to work, Russ Parr discussed the trial during a segment. He played a medley of recent R. Kelly lyrics, where the singer made lewd comments (i.e., "if you're thirsty, I got that good good lemonade", "I'll make it rain on ya".. not a good look when you're accused of urinating on someone). When he opened the lines for calls, the majority of male callers stated what they'd do to R. if that was their daughter on the tape. I was mad though because most women were willing to throw the victim under the bus. "Those girls know what they're doing," some commented. "This case is so old, why are we talking about it anymore?" and one that made me shake my head: "when I was that age, I did whatever I had to do to get what I wanted."

So not only are women giving him a pass for preying on the mind and vulnerability of a then-13 year old.. he gets a pass for succumbing to the feminine wiles of a girl who hasn't even entered the 9th grade at that point. He gets a pass for intentionally mocking those who support him (c'mon... the friggin' Pied Piper?!) and he gets a pass along with all those men, across all of our neighborhoods who continue to sexually abuse young girls every day.

Until we find the safety and well-being of our girls more important than ludicrous songs, we will continue to be plagued by the types of problems we have as black women and girls. Its easy to turn a blind eye when the story doesn't relate to you, but even bad lyrics can't drown out the fact that our girls are being damaged. And we are standing by as some men are the cause of it happening.