The new year kicked o with the release of the television documentary series about singer Robert Kelly, publicly known as R. Kelly. The series shocked both viewers and the internet.
Starting Jan. 3, the television network Lifetime released a six-part documentary series titled “Surviving R. Kelly” (2019). The show focuses on the past sexual assault allegations against R. Kelly and features interviews from his accusers and professional peers.
R. Kelly is an American singer known for his R&B and hip-hop music. Since the early 2000s there have been many sexual assault allegations against him. Some charges include sex with underage girls, possession of child pornography, luring girls into a sex cult and failing to disclose an STD.
At this time, R. Kelly has denied all claims and has not been charged with any crimes.
The new series attempting to expose Kelly premiered with 1.9 million viewers, which became Lifetime’s best ratings
performance in two years. Many celebrities have spoken out about the series and the allegations against Kelly. Some singers who collaborated with Kelly have apologized for their involvement with him, including Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera, Chance the Rapper, John Legend, Lady Gaga and more.
Some artists who had collaboration songs with Kelly have since removed them from streaming services.
Further, in early 2018, Spotify and Apply Music stopped promoting Kelly’s music. In coordination to try to silence the singer, the Women of Color
Branch of the Times Up movement created a hash tag called #MuteRKelly to be used in protest against the singer on social media.
The documentary series has been a major topic of discussion with many people speaking out saying this is a new era for the #MeToo movement. The media usually focuses on certain
activists when talking about the movement and the public does not get to see a more diverse side telling their stories.
Dr. Kenya Davis-Hayes, professor of history, said society has never been keen on listening to minority women.
“Thinking about it historically, minority women have always gone unheard. If a women or a person of color is struggling or suffered in some way, it is not something modern society has been interest in,” Davis- Hayes said.
Ebony Chew, senior accounting major, watched the “Surviving R. Kelly” series and said she was shocked.
“I was speechless at first. You never know who people are behind closed doors,” Chew said. “I applaud the victims who had the courage and braveness to share with the world their life experience.”
After the series debuted, the #MeToo movement began focusing on more diverse groups of women and their voices are being heard. With the change in society accompanied by social media, every one has the power to speak out — especially women who are used to fighting for people to listen to them.
Stephanie Gonzalez, senior business administration major, said it is amazing that all women are finally being heard.
“It is incredible that more women are becoming braver and feel safer in coming out and sharing their story. For the longest time, women felt ashamed of having gone through abuse, but this stigma is starting to dissipate,” Gonzalez said. “Women who are minorities also need to feel that they, too, matter and that they are just as equal as white, female celebrities who have gone through abuse.”
After the series aired, Kelly has been investigated and plans to take action against the creators. The series opened the eyes of many about an industry that deals with these kinds of situations almost daily.
With access to social media, everyone has the ability to speak up.