Recently, we saw a long deserved victory for community organizers, survivors, and justice in general: sexual assault charges were brought against singer and known abuser Robert Kelly, better known by his stage name, R. Kelly. After decades of abusing Black girls, it appears that we are finally beginning to see the repercussions; Kelly was dropped from his record label earlier this year in light of Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly documentary. However, this action was too long overdue. It comes after years of Kelly preying on young Black girls, a failed trial, and countless horrifying stories from Black women who suffered abuse at his hands. Throughout this, he continued to receive support from his team, fans, and the larger public.
This points to a greater issue of the general disregard for Black girls in discussions of sexual assault; their stories are largely ignored both within and outside the Black community. White, affluent narratives of sexual harassment often take up most of the space in these discussions, silencing low-income women and women of color. This was seen in the #MeToo movement, despite its founder being Tarana Burke, a Black woman. In contrast, campaigns like #MuteRKelly meant to raise awareness about the issues Black women and girls face have taken immense work on the part of Black community organizers to obtain the same national attention.