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Opinion: R. Kelly and the Interview That Should Have Never Happened

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R. Kelly

R. Kelly appeared on “CBS Morning News” on Wednesday morning with Gayle King. In an exclusive interview, the singer, who is facing sexual abuse charges, denied the allegations. His current charges involve four women, three of whom were underage at the time of the reported events. There have also been reports of a sex cult involving the scandalous singer.

Typically, I am all for getting both sides of the story but quite frankly, whatever R. Kelly has to say, should be saved for court. For decades, R. Kelly has maintained his platform, success, and fanbase even as his victims tried to regain some semblance of a normal life.

The highly successful Lifetime documentary, “Surviving R. Kelly,”  highlighted some of the survivors. It was gut-wrenching to watch. Watching those young women recall their trauma and carry the guilt of being duped by the predatory R. Kelly caused visceral actions from many viewers — present company included.

But nothing could have prepared Black women, specifically, for the blatant disregard and disrespect that was displayed in his interview with Gayle King.

R. Kelly “became emotional” during the interview sit down while denying all allegations of 10 counts of sexual abuse and denies holding any woman against their will.

He exclaimed during the sit down: “I didn’t do this stuff! This is not me. I am fighting for my f—–g life! That’s stupid! Use your common sense. Forget how you feel about me. Hate me if you want to. Love me if you want. Just use your common sense. How stupid would it be for me, with my crazy past and what I have been through, now I need to be a monster and hold girls against their will and chain them in my basement and don’t let them eat?”

His sociopathic rant of innocence was not only infuriating but it was arrogant. Pay close attention to what he didn’t say during his dramatic bluster. Kelly never said he was innocent. He questioned people’s common sense. He also said “he beat his cases.”

There’s a huge difference between “beating a case” and not doing the crime. Those crocodile tears were wasted. I am not moved. As a Black woman with a Black daughter, I don’t need a court of law to establish his guilt. And up until now, the court of public opinion has been useless as well. Corporations still played his music and videos. He still performed at sold-out shows with many of his supporters being Black women.

But the one thing that’s most disappointing about this interview is: R. Kelly was presented with an opportunity to victimize his survivors again but this time a major network was complicit in that trauma. And adding more insult to injury, the network used a Black woman to do it.

Maybe Gayle King could have declined it. Who knows? But what is known is CBS, as with most of the world, didn’t care about Black women and girls this past Wednesday morning. It cared more about ratings, ad revenue, and getting an exclusive at the expense of his survivors.

And this is not about being fair. The decision to interview R. Kelly was taken through a chain of command. And it appears that nobody stood up for Black women — not even Gayle King. No one in the board room realized that giving R. Kelly a space to speak his peace is something that has already been done. When Black women via a documentary asked for people to believe them after a brilliant but devastating show of bravery, CBS decided to air his side of the story as if Black folks haven’t known it for over two decades.

There’s one more thing that is painfully obvious about this situation — Black women and girls will have to continue to advocate, love and protect one another because no one else is going to do it.

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6 Comments

  1. EMM March 11, 2019

    Let’s be real, Gayle was going after the story and the ratings. If it wasn’t her, it would’ve been someone else. I see no point in criticizing Gayle for her part in this. As for R. Kelly, he’s a lost soul. Irredeemable. Let’s the chips fall where they may for him.

    Reply
  2. Anitta March 10, 2019

    I felt Gayle King was out of order. She was very accusatory during her questioning. She has convicted him and asked him to explain to her ‘why he did what he did’. As a reporter her responsibility is to seek out the truth not dictate it.
    I am not saying he is guilty or not guilty. That is for a jury to decide. I am saying let the courts work. His time will come. This is not new news.

    Reply
  3. Jen March 9, 2019

    I totally agree. They used a strong black woman to unhinge him so that his true colors would show. He was almost to the point of hurting her. He’s criminal in his behavior

    Reply
  4. Veronica Alleyne March 9, 2019

    if the only thing you can bring yourself to do with your power is abuse it once you have it, I neither feel sorry for you nor have any use for you, later for him!

    Reply
  5. grannybunny March 8, 2019

    I think R. Kelly should be publicly-confronted with the allegations against him, not just with news coverage and documentaries such as “Surviving R. Kelly,” but also by being put on the spot by journalists like Gayle King. I don’t think the King interview benefitted Kelly in the least. To the contrary, he appeared totally unhinged and out of control; his own publicist had to — physically — intervene, restrain him and arrange a time-out. King’s restraint — under those unique circumstances — was admirable; I don’t think it’s fair to criticize her as allowing herself to be used or manipulated by Kelly in any way.

    Reply
  6. Damali Murray March 8, 2019

    The interview should never have happened.

    Reply

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