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Black Women the Real Losers in R. Kelly’s Sex Trial

New America Media , Commentary, Earl Ofari Hutchinson Posted: May 28, 2008

Editor's Note: The child pornography case embroiling R&B singer R. Kelly will likely have little effect on his booming career. But those who say he is a black man being victimized by whites ignore the terrible realities of rape and assault that black women have to grapple with says commentator Earl Ofari Hutchinson. Hutchinson's new book is "The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House" (Middle Passage Press, February 2008).

Here’s a bet. Accused child pornographer and sexual panderer, R. Kelly has three albums in the can ready for release. If Kelly is convicted of the multiple counts slapped against him in his Chicago child pornography trial, the albums will fly out of the can fast, and even faster off the store racks.

Kelly’s well-documented penchant for underage teens, and his boasts and taunts in his songs, topped by the very real possibility that he had sex with a very underage teen, as shown in the homemade smutty videotape, mean little to his legions of devoted fans. But it should. A black woman is far more likely to be raped than a white woman, and slightly more likely to be the victim of domestic violence.

Kelly and a handful of other influential R&B singers and rappers who are rich and famous beyond their wildest fantasies and who brand themselves with a criminal, thuggish image are still very much in commercial vogue. They exult the bad actor life style, thumb their noses at the establishment, and reinforce the sexually rapacious stereotype of young black men.

Kelly, and the others, know that the record industry can and will deftly parlay their sexual outlandishness and defiance into millions in record sales. Kelly brashly seized on the commercially prurient relationship he has with the record companies in his last album, “The Champ.” “Point fingers, throw stones, hate me I’m clever enough to know that the industry needs me.”

It does. He owns a mansion and property in Chicago and Florida, and was once spoken of in the same breath as Oprah and Michael Jordan among Chicago’s wealthiest black elite.

But in the process, young black artists such as Kelly rekindle the vilest of racial and sexual stereotypes about young black males. Their artistic degradation has had especially dangerous consequences for black women. In Kelly’s case the victims of his sexual vandalism, as witnessed by settlements of other lawsuits against him for having sex with underage teens, were black women. And his sexually odious singles, Feelin on Yo Booty, Bump and Grind, and Your Body’s Callin' were virtual invitations to sexually trash black women.

Black women, especially young black women, have been the victims of that and much more. Homicide now ranks as one of the leading causes of deaths of young black females. Black women are more likely to be raped or assaulted than a white woman. Their assailants are not white racist cops or Klan nightriders but black males, and if they are a poor black woman, and their alleged assailant happens to be a fawned over rap star, justice will be slow forthcoming, if at all.

The Kelly case is a glaring example of the laxity with which authorities often treat crimes against black women. The lewd sex video at the center of the Kelly case was made years ago. Yet it’s only now that the case went to trial, six years after he was charged. No charges have been filed against him in the other cases that he subsequently settled, even though sex with a minor is a felony.

Some blacks make things even worse by dredging up a litany of excuses, such as poverty, broken homes, and abuse, to excuse the sexual abuse and the violence by top black male artists. These explanations for the misdeeds of rappers and singers are phony and self-serving. The ones who have landed hard in a court docket are anything but hard-core, dysfunctional, poverty types.

P. Diddy, who predated Kelly as the poster boy for music malevolence, is college educated and hails from a middle-class home. He typifies the fraud that these artists are up-from-the-ghetto, self-made men.

When men such as Kelly commit, or are charged with sexual assaults, they leave a long trail of victims, cast shame and disgrace on themselves and, worst of all, reinforce the notion that young black males are indeed a menace to society.

Kelly seemed to grasp that disastrous fact. In a concert appearance with gospel singer Kirk Franklin he did a tear jerk, kind of sort of self-confessional, and declared that he had given up his promiscuous, self-indulgent ways and had embraced Jesus. His Saul on the Road to Damascus epiphany was welcome, but unfortunately it was made a decade ago. And apparently from the sex tape, lawsuits, and the sex-laced braggadocio lyrics on some of his songs since then it was a very short lived epiphany.

Kelly has yet to be convicted of any crime. But his possible fall from grace almost certainly won’t mean that his hitherto adoring fans who slavishly elevate him to a demigod perch and put a king’s ransom of wealth in his bank account will desert him in droves. Informal polls show that many listeners will continue to buy his records, and some blacks have even trotted out the tired claim that he’s another prominent black man victimized by whites. In fact, one fan was unceremoniously hauled out of the courthouse for haranguing the Kelly jurors. This is yet one more sign that Kelly’s ill-gained notoriety is a sure fire guarantee to jingle cash registers no matter what happens in court, or maybe because of what happens in court.

Related Articles:

Self-Medication, Skimpy Prom Dresses and R. Kelly on Trial

R. Kelly has Fans and Foes




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