When Hoteps Overstep: Why are so many ‘woke’ women like Me’shell Ndegeocello and Erykah Badu are defending R. Kelly?
Me'shell Ndegeocello and Erykah Badu are the latest defenders.
Weeks after its debut, the after effects from Lifetime’s explosive Surviving R. Kelly exposé continues to plague our community as both former fans and longtime critics all grapple with the reality that such a brazen sexual predator was allowed to be woven into the fabric of our lives for so long.
However, despite the public outcry to universally “mute” the singer, there seems to be a staunchly loyal collective of folks who simply refuse to part ways ways with Robert Kelly and the most vocal amongst surprisingly seems to be Hotep Black women.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Hoteps, or Hotep Twitter (the patchouli scented, ankh decorated space online where they tend to congregate), here’s a better understanding according to the The Visibility Project:
“There is a unique creature that one finds in the wilderness of Black Twitter. This specimen can usually be found championing for the rights of Black men while simultaneously throwing Black women, Black Trans persons, Black members of the LGBTQ community or anyone else who is not a Black male under the bus.
At first glance, one may think this creature is extremely conscious of intersectional activism and is down to fight the cause of ALL Black people because they frequently quote Malcolm X and have Maya Angelou as their profile pic on Twitter. Be cautious though because this being is not a friend or an ally.
[We] refer to these people as members of “Hotep” or “Ankh” or “Ashy-Ankh Wearing” Twitter. The titles deriving from the frequently used Pharaohs and Queens of Egypt rhetoric, thrown around by this group of people.”
As the above definition implies, at first glance it’s easy to be lured into Hotepary due to its glorious and at times compelling “pro Black” presentation. However, once you pull back the curtain, you’re almost always bombarded by a jarring amount of misogyny, homophobia and problematic rhetoric infused into the mix, which makes it impossible to take these people serious past a certain point.
Usually when it comes to Hoteps, I’ve learned to mind my business as they share memes about how “Queens” shouldn’t wear weaves, but the Black “King” should be allowed to do whatever the hell he wants (even when he’s unemployed, unfaithful and/or spreading his seed without an ounce of discernment).
While I may not agree with a lot of their ideals, I can still respect that at their core, hoteps are just trying to celebrate their Blackness in a world not built for them.
However, when it comes to R. Kelly and his 30 years of predatory behavior, I don’t have the stomach to sit by quietly as some of our woke faves continue to defend him under the guise of “supporting a brother.”
Last weekend, fans in Chicago got a lot more than they paid for, when one of America’s most celebrated Hoteps, Erykah Badu, got on stage and attempted to dismiss her audience’s very valid concerns about R.Kelly.
“What if one of the people who was assaulted by R Kelly becomes an offender? We gonna crucify them too?” Badu allegedly said, according to concertgoers.
Other witnesses corroborated the account, adding that the singer also told the dismayed crowd to “keep [their] opinion to [themselves]” rather than be bothered with pesky things like…. facts.
Do I believe this happened? Absolutely.
I personally had an unsavory encounter with Badu over a decade ago that left me grappling with my own uneasy feelings about her judgement and emotional intelligence. So unfortunately, I don’t even have the luxury of pretending these accounts sound out of character – because they don’t. They sound exactly like the woman I met back in 2005.
Even on Badu’s own Instagram, when she attempted to clarify what happened at that concert, all she did was further illustrate that she believes herself to be above reproach.
“Having Eyes that can see all points of view is a blessing … and a curse in the court of public opinion,“ the 47-year-old wrote to her followers in response to the backlash.
Could you be any more smug?
I know you describe yourself as “THE UNICORN” on your IG, but unicorns aren’t real and neither is this rape-apologist madness you’re trying to spoon feed us.
Down here on EARTH, where the rest of us mere mortals live, R. Kelly being abused as a child is indeed a tragedy and something he needs a ton of counseling to deal with, but that in no way excuses his actions as a grown ass man. So Badu’s rhetorical question about ‘who we’re gonna “crucify” next’ is ridiculous.
Being held (marginally) accountable, after decades of unchecked physical and psychological assaults isn’t a crucifixion. To be honest, it’s barely a punishment! And telling Black people (in CHICAGO of all places) to essentially shut the hell up about their valid reactions to violence against Black women is mind-numbingly toxic.
A Dangerous Pivot
Badu’s ploy to get fans to pivot away from victims and instead show compassion towards their attacker is what is known as a “spiritual bypass.”
According to Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist, John Welwood, spiritual bypassing is a, “tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks.”
For example, when one fan wrote, “I loved you until I realized you supported a rapist and pedophile as your brother,” she tried to gaslight the brother by responding with “Correction, love has little to do with supporting others’ bad choices. Love is wisdom.”
In general her statement is true, but in this specific context the notion of compassion is being weaponized to dismiss this fan’s concerns about her supporting a repeated sex offender. How many times have words like “love,” “wisdom” and “support” been used to talk people of color out of their righteous indignation and feelings of violation?
By now most of my readers know I’m NOT a fan of “cancel culture” and believe many of us are too quick to discard people for their mistakes. But bastardizing otherwise brilliant concepts like empathy and forgiveness in order to woo folks into sweeping unresolved trauma under the rug is dangerous. Unfortunately, this is something the Black community and our celebrated heroes have learned to do quite masterfully.
Oh No! Not you too, Me’shell!
When I heard Erykah was up to her usual existential antics, I was not all that surprised and pretty much shrugged it off, but what did hurt my heart was finding out that musical legend Me’shell Ndegeocello had somehow been pulled into the fray and lured into co-signing her sentiments.
“THANK YOU @erykahbadu FOR REMINDING ME TO STAY CLEAR AND TO LOVE …,” the singer wrote Monday. “’Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.’ -James baldwin”
NOW HOLD UP.
Did Me’shell “Outside Your Door” Ndegeocello just use a James Baldwin quote, on Martin Luther King Day to show “love” towards R. ‘Hide Yo Wife, Hide Yo’ Kids’ Kelly?
Where were the beautiful quotes or public sentiments of love for the victims devastated and at times destroyed by this man’s reign of depravity? Why didn’t Badu stop her concert to speak up for THEM?
Ya’ll have officially taken this ish too far, because neither Dr. King nor brother Baldwin would have co-signed any of this. They were both critical thinkers and this…. definitely ain’t that.
R. Kelly has a whole ecosystem of support in place to shield him from harm in every way possible. He is rich, powerful, and still a celebrated musician whose friends and family have already offered to get him help (which he’s clearly denied). So the people who deserve our prayers and grace right now are the victims.
Not because we’re heartless and don’t understand the “wisdom” of love, but because justice is still a thing, and some of us are tired of prioritizing the egos of grown men over the safety of Black girls.
What the woke extremists are doing in the wake of Surviving R. Kelly is not only misguided, but also extremely harmful. Can you imagine what it would feel like to see one of your favorite singer’s defending the man who raped you as a child? Can you even fathom what kind of damage that does or what message it sends to other little girls who have been abused by powerful people?
Then ya’ll have the nerve to ask stupid questions like, “Well why did it take her so long to come forward?”
THIS is why, genius.
As for those wondering why Black women seem to be even more adamant about defending Kelly than men, the cause for that is a tragic phenom known as female misogyny.
According to Silvia M. Dutchevici, LCSW and founder of the Critical Therapy Center, female misogyny, which she refers to as “internalized” misogyny, is the “subconscious internalization of all the sexist and negative views and hatred of women that exist within our culture and ideology.”
She continues to explain that these subconscious beliefs, “are passed down through cultural norms, messages and socialization… and requires a strict adherence to gender norms.”
This is why Hotep women who spend a lot of time waxing poetic about the need to “protect our kings at all costs,” are often the same ones attacking female victims and asking questions like, “But what did she do to make him do that?” in the comments sections.
These ladies have been taught not to only find comfort, but also take immense pride in their ability to protect traditional masculinity at all costs, even if it comes at the detriment of other women.
I already wrote about female misogyny and the “Pick-Me” mindset over the holidays. If you haven’t already, I recommend you check it out to gain further insight into why this trend is on the rise.
In the meantime, if you read this article and at any point recognized some of your own problematic biases being called out, as always, please use this as an opportunity to simply do better.
Follow writer Blue Telusma on Instagram at @bluecentric