Recently Carol Maraj, the mother of Jelani Maraj and famed Queens rapper, Nicki Minaj tweeted this:
This is the first time Maraj has tweeted since April. This interview she speaks of will be the first time she’s spoken publicly about her son’s child rape trial and subsequent guilty verdict. She alleges that she’ll share shocking secrets, the courts don’t want us to know. No doubt she’ll attempt to prove his innocence. It’s what she’s been doing since court documents first revealed that Jelani Maraj had been accused of raping his 11-year-old stepdaughter as often as four times a week.
Jelani Maraj was found guilty on a felony charge of predatory sexual assault on a child and endangering the welfare of a child. He is currently awaiting his sentence, in prison, as his lawyers keep pushing the sentencing back as they fight to get the child rape conviction overturned. He faces 25 year to life in prison.
In December of 2015, Carol Maraj got Jelani out of prison by putting up her home as bail. She testified during the trial, alleging that the whole thing was a way for her daughter-in-law, Jacqueline Robinson, to extort $25 million from her family, particularly Nicki. The night Jelani was arrested, Carol Maraj sent a text message to Robinson, writing: “You guys set up my child.”
She told jurors that Robinson gave her a ride to the courthouse the day Jelani was being arraigned. She said, “We had a little conversation. As we were getting out of the care she said, ‘It’s going to take a lot of money to get out of this one.”
But prosecutors shared another message Maraj sent to Robinson saying, “I don’t think you should give people details on anything. You don’t have to share your business with everyone who calls.”
Given her position during this whole situation, I can see why she would say that. The damage is in the details.
Before the trial even took place, Maraj’s DNA was found on Robinson’s daughter’s pajamas. During the proceedings, the victim’s younger brother testified that he saw Jelani on top of his sister with her pants around her ankles and Maraj’s underwear around his knees. But more than the anecdotal and forensic evidence, a medical examiner determined that the young girl had been penetrated.
I don’t share all these details lightly. They’re actually deeply disturbing. I share them to show that despite claims of extortion and setups, Jelani Maraj is guilty of repeatedly raping a little girl. And instead of letting him suffer the consequences for his heinous actions, his mother is ignoring all evidence in an attempt to profess his innocence.
And it’s not right.
Not only is it not right, Maraj’s decision to defend and stick up for her son, despite what he did points to a bigger problem with Black mothers specifically. It’s the practice of absolving their sons of guilt for the sake of protecting the family image, preventing their sons from experiencing well-deserved punishment and sacrificing their daughters.
If she were the only Black mother to have done something like this, then perhaps it wouldn’t be worthy of an article. But she’s not. There was a Black mother in the trailer for “Iyanla Fix My Life” who turned a blind eye to her son molesting her daughter because he had sickle cell anemia. Mo’Nique’s parents knew of their daughter’s sexual abuse but didn’t do anything about it. In her first discussion about the abuse, she shared her mother’s reaction. “I’ll never forget my mother saying, ‘If it’s true, it will surface again,’ and I remember thinking, Why would I lie? Why is there even an if in this?”
How many women stood around knowingly watching R. Kelly marry an underage girl or recruit women into his sex cult, so enamored with the artist that they didn’t think about the children and young ladies he was abusing?
These are just public examples. Earlier this year, I interviewed a woman whose boyfriend’s grandmother left the room and ignored her cries for help while her grandson beat her. I have no doubt that if we look back over our own family histories, there are instances where the shielding of men, boys and sons took precedence over the protection, nurturing, healing and overall mental and physical wellbeing of women, girls and daughters.
Why? Why are women so willing to sacrifice another woman or girl for a man who is in the wrong? It goes back to the value we place on the lives of girls and boys. Even though we can all recognize that women and girls, especially Black ones, are more vulnerable in this society, still so much of our attention goes in protecting Black men and boys even when their actions show that punishment would be more appropriate.
This cycle of defense of evil only excuses and perpetuates more violence against women. It only makes it harder for a woman’s story of abuse to be taken seriously the first time she tells it. It only ensures that another guilty Black man gets off when his victim is a Black woman or Black girl.
If I were Carol Maraj, the mother of a child rapist, I would be using my daughter’s money and connections to see what type of help I could get my son in prison. And I don’t mean legal help. I mean psychological help. I understand she loves her son. But as a mother, I would want to know what caused this behavior and how I could prevent him from doing it to someone else, on the off-chance he gets to live outside of a prison again. Because doing sit down interviews, attempting to defend the actions of a rapist is not only a waste of everyone’s time, it makes it easier for men like her son to get away with doing the same thing to someone else’s daughter.