Several women of color in entertainment work with the Time’s Up initiative to ensure their industry’s reckoning with sexual violence doesn’t just benefit White survivors. These women held up decades of accusations against R. Kelly—a man whose alleged serial abuse of Black girls and women has not led to incarceration or an end to his music career—in a new statement that The Root published today (April 30).
We join the call to #MuteRKelly and insist on the safety + dignity of all women. We demand investigations into R. Kelly’s abuse allegations made by women of color + their families for two decades. We call on those who profit from his music to cut ties. #MuteRKelly #TIMESUP #WOC pic.twitter.com/TYmDRVIH00
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) April 30, 2018
The committee of women of color, which The Associated Press reports includes Ava DuVernay and Shonda Rhimes, stated that it will join the existing #MuteRKelly digital campaign. The Grio reported in January that the campaign, organized by Kenyette Barnes and Oronike Odeleye, aims to remove Kelly from the radio and concert circuit. “Someone had to stand up for Black women, and if I wasn’t willing to do my part—no matter how small—then I couldn’t continue to complain,” Odeleye told The Grio.
The Time’s Up statement echoed similar concerns about how society largely ignores girls and women or color who accuse powerful men of sexual assault:
For too long, our community has ignored our pain. The pain we bear is a burden that too many women of color have had to bear for centuries. The wounds run deep.
As women of color within Time’s Up, we recognize that we have a responsibility to help right this wrong. We intend to shine a bright light on our WOC sisters in need. It is our hope that we will never feel ignored or silenced ever again.
The recent court decision against Bill Cosby is one step toward addressing these ills, but it is just a start. We call on people everywhere to join with us to insist on a world in which women of all kinds can pursue their dreams free from sexual assault, abuse and predatory behavior.
The statement also catalogs how Kelly married Aaliyah when she was underage, was indicted and acquitted on 21 charges of child pornography, was named in multiple lawsuits alleging various instances sexual violence and further accused of sexual assault and unlawful imprisonment. It goes on to demand that several corporate entities that maintain relationships with Kelly—RCA Records, Apple Music, Spotify, Ticketmaster and Greensboro Coliseum Complex concert venue—sever ties with him. A lawyer, publicist and assistant abruptly stopped working with Kelly earlier this year, and the Love Jam 2018 music festival also dropped him from its lineup around the same time.
“The scars of history make certain that we are not interested in persecuting anyone without just cause,” the statement continues. “With that said, we demand appropriate investigations and inquiries into the allegations of R. Kelly’s abuse made by women of color and their families for over two decades now. And we declare with great vigilance and a united voice to anyone who wants to silence us: Their time is up.”