What Anthony Weiner can learn from R. Kelly

OPINION - What do these very different men have in common? Both have come under scrutiny twice for inappropriate sexual behavior...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Yesterday, NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner confessed to sending sexually explicit texts and pictures to women who aren’t his wife, after resigning from Congress for the basically the same thing.

He held a press conference with his wife Huma Abedin by his side in support and asked voters to look beyond his behavior — again.

It was a moment shrouded in shame despite his insistence that he and his family had moved past the incident.

Paying ode to the Pied Piper of R&B

With increasing calls for Weiner to exit the mayoral race, perhaps he can learn a thing or two from fellow disgraced figure R. Kelly.

Over the weekend, Kells gave the performance of his life at Chicago’s Pitchfork Musical Festival.  The pied piper reportedly had his audience singing along note for note while he belted out his classic “I Believe I Can Fly.”  Kelly appears to be on a redemption tour of sorts.  He made an appearance on the 2013 BET Awards, a show that has traditionally offered a pathway to forgiveness to errant African-American celebs (see Chris Brown).  He’s due to headline two shows in South Africa this summer.

What do these very different men have in common? Both have come under scrutiny twice for inappropriate sexual behavior.

In addition to his infamous 2002 video, R. Kelly married the late R&B princess Aaliyah in 1994, when she was 15 years old.  Though Anthony is the career politician, R. Kelly seems to be the more adept when it comes to earning his second (or in this case third) chance.

Although his 2007 trial exonerated him from 14 counts of videotaping himself having sex with an underage girl, it rendered R. Kelly guilty in the court of public opinion.  His career was decimated.  Radio stations stopped playing his records and fans stopped buying them.  His lengthy run as the King of R&B screeched to a halt.

R. Kelly rebuilt from the ground up

So, Kelly began the hard work of rebuilding his reputation from the ground up. He didn’t demand that the country move past his past.  He put aside his ego and made a mixtape, partnered with lesser-known artists and focused his efforts outside of the country.

I’m not saying R Kelly deserves to be forgiven for the whole 2002 urinate-on-a-pre-pubescent-girl debacle.  There’s part of me that still wants to roll up to his mansion dressed in black with a posse of feminists for vengeance.  But, I can at least respect the fact that he didn’t demand forgiveness.

For the past six years, he’s been trying to earn it.  Which is more than I can say for Anthony Weiner. I have no idea what he’s been up since his 2011 ouster except plotting his run for mayor.  There have been no stories about him working to prevent sexual crimes or doing any other sort of community service.

If he’s been trying to do good in the world to compensate for his flagrant foul, neither he nor his team has done a good job making it public.

Now, Weiner stands in front of the nation and claims he’s still the best candidate to run the most storied city in the world.  He wants us to believe he can control the city, when Weiner can’t even control his wiener? Nah dude, insipid apology not accepted.  I’m not buying it.  But I am humming “I Believe I Can Fly” under my breath.

What’s your take on the Anthony Weiner scandal?  Weigh in!

Imani A. Dawson is an award-winning writer and TV producer with a passion for storytelling and nearly 13 years of experience working in media. Specializing in entertainment, culture and politics, her experience spans print, digital and television platforms. She’s worked for outlets like BET, MTV, VH1, FUSE, the Associated Press and Shape magazines.  In addition, she contributed “The Turntable,” an essay on the art and culture of DJing to the acclaimed anthology “Beats, Rhymes & Life : What We Love and Hate About Hip Hop”

In spring 2013, Dawson used her considerable media background to launch TribeCalledCurl.com, a beauty and lifestyle website aimed at smart, savvy young women with afro-textured tresses.   Its mission: to inform, entertain and inspire women of color and empower them to celebrate their unique beauty.