On Saturday, dozens of Black women gathered for a “March for Black Women” outside of an R. Kelly concert in New York City.
The event, organized by Black Women’s Blueprint, was part of the #MuteRKelly movement, which aims to disrupt support for the performer in the wake of multiple accusations of sexual assault against young Black women throughout his career. Last year reports also surfaced that R. Kelly was holding young girls against their will in his Atlanta home.
“This is not new. While R.Kelly’s concert is this weekend, it is not just R.Kelly. Over the past twenty years it has been Mike Tyson, Clarence Thomas, Cee-lo Green, Nate Parker, Bill Cosby, Russell Simmons, all stand accused by Black women and girls now piecing their lives back together after rape, sexual harassment and abuse. Unknown numbers of Black men within our communities, celebrity and non-celebrity, have been reported by their victims,” the group said in a statement to Blavity.
The organization also issued a press release explaining that the protest was about more than just R. Kelly: “Anti-rape organizations, individual advocates and Black people concerned for victims and survivors must rally not just on Saturday, but everyday to ensure the safety and protection of Black girls in particular.”
Black women standing up for themselves
The conversation around R. Kelly has been a hard one for the Black community. At what point does support become complicity? At what point does defending some men become turning a blind eye to the abuse of girls and women?
As the organizers from Black Women’s Blueprint noted, “For hundreds of years, Black women—from the Antebellum South to today’s justice movements—have deployed our voices as weapons in the struggles against white supremacy and misogyny. Modern day Black feminists in this country have organized for decades, denouncing sexual abuse through literature, protests, initiating legal cases against sexual violence that occurs in private homes and public spaces.”