One of the greatest criticisms of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement is that the stories from women of color, women who don’t meet a certain aesthetic, often went unheard. But two women Oronike Odeleye of Creative Currents Artist Collaborative in Atlanta and child pornography survivor and activist Kenyzette Barnes created a new initiative, #MuteRKelly to address the Black and Brown girls who have been his victims for decades.
In an interview with theGrio, Odeleye said, “I have been hearing about R. Kelly’s sexual abuse of young Black women since I was in my teens. Every few years, more women come out with their stories. More images and videos surface. More Black girls are scarred for life just as they are coming into their womanhood and sexuality.”
From there, under the #TimesUp umbrella, director Ava DuVernay launched an initiative that demands venues, corporations and others cut ties with Robert Kelly to insist on the safety and dignity for women of all kinds. The initiative is insisting that investigations into Kelly’s allegations over the past two decades be carried out.
The women of color in the Times Up movement wrote an open letter about the charge.
To Our Fellow Women of Color:
We see you. We hear you. Because we are you.
For too long, our community has ignored our pain. The pain we bear is a burden that too many women of color have had to bear for centuries. The wounds run deep.
As Women of Color within Time’s Up, we recognize that we have a responsibility to help right this wrong. We intend to shine a bright light on our WOC sisters in need. It is our hope that we will never feel ignored or silenced ever again.
The recent court decision against Bill Cosby is one step towards addressing these ills but it is just a start. We call on people everywhere to join with us to insist on a world in which women of all kinds can pursue their dreams free from sexual assault, abuse and predatory behavior.
To this end, today we join an existing online campaign called #MuteRKelly.
Over the past 25 years, the man known publicly as R. Kelly has sold 60 million albums, toured the globe repeatedly, and accumulated hundreds of millions of plays on radio and streaming services.
During this time, he also …
• Married a girl under 18 years of age;
• Was sued by at least 4 women for sexual misconduct, statutory rape, aggravated assault, unlawful restraint, and furnishing illegal drugs to a minor;
• Was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography;
• Has faced allegations of sexual abuse and imprisonment of women under threats of violence and familial harm;
Together, we call on the following corporations and venues with ties to R. Kelly to join us and insist on safety and dignity for women of all kinds:
• RCA Records – The venerable music label currently produces and distributes R. Kelly’s music;
• Ticketmaster – The popular ticketing system is currently issuing tickets for R. Kelly’s show on May 11;
• Spotify and Apple Music – The popular streaming platforms currently monetizing R. Kelly’s music;
• Greensboro Coliseum Complex – The venue is currently hosting an R. Kelly concert on May 11.
The scars of history make certain that we are not interested in persecuting anyone without just cause. With that said, we demand appropriate investigations and inquiries into the allegations of R. Kelly’s abuse made by women of color and their families for over two decades now. And we declare with great vigilance and a united voice to anyone who wants to silence us – their time is up.
Together, We Are Strong,
WOC | TIME’S UP
Since the release of the letter, several celebrities have come forward in support. See what they have to say on the following pages.