Update 4/30/18 4:22 p.m.
R. Kelly's team has shared a statement with BuzzFeed News, defending the singer against the Time's Up letter released Monday morning. "We understand criticizing a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals," the statement reads. "And in this case it is unjust and off-target."
Read the full statement below.
Original post below.
It’s long been time to pull the aux on singer R. Kelly, and now powerful women of color within the #TimesUp movement released a statement announcing their effort to join forces with the online campaign #MuteRKelly.
“The scars of history make certain that we are not interested in persecuting anyone without just cause,” the statement reads. “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.”
The group includes producer Shonda Rhimes, actresses Rashida Jones, America Ferrara, Eva Longoria, Lena Waithe and Kerry Washington, director Ava Duvernay, attorneys Nina Shaw and Tina Tchen, and more. In their letter, the women specifically make demands against Kelly’s label RCA, as well as Spotify, Apple Music, Ticketmaster, and Greensboro Coliseum Complex, asking these entities sever their business ties with the artist.
The demands come after more than a decade of accusations against Kelly for sexual abuse of women and minors, specifically young black women and girls. The accusations have long been the butt of pop culture jokes from Dave Chappelle, The Boondocks, and others, but in the past two years, further investigative work by Jim DeRogatis revealed that Kelly’s sexual predatory behavior has all but stopped. To this day, the singer is allegedly running a sex cult from his homes in Atlanta and Chicago.
“For too long, our community has ignored our pain,” the Time’s Up letter reads. “As Women of Color within Time’s Up, we recognize that we have a responsibility to help right this wrong. The recent court decision against Bill Cosby is one step towards 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.”
Recently there's been a shift in the narrative surrounding the once beloved singer. In the past month, Vince Staples called R. Kelly a “child molester,” the singer’s attorney and assistant resigned, and Jack Antonoff revealed he’s been begging RCA to take Kelly off the label.
The Women of Color message joins the #MuteRKelly campaign, asking people to sign a petition “telling Sony and Live Nation to #MuteRKelly for habitually preying on teenage girls for the past 25 years. Sign to tell Live Nation to cancel his upcoming shows and Sony to drop his recording contract.” The petition created last summer by Oronike Odeleye and Kenyette Barnes currently has more than 65,000 supporters of its goal of 70,000.
Read the Women of Color of Time’s Up letter below:
To Our Fellow Women of Color:
We see you. We hear you. Because we are you.
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 towards 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.
To this end, today we join an existing online campaign called #MuteRKelly.
Over the past 25 years, the man known publicly as R. Kelly has sold 60 million albums, toured the globe repeatedly, and accumulated hundreds of millions of plays on radio and streaming services.
During this time, he also ...
Married a girl under 18 years of age;
Was sued by at least 4 women for sexual misconduct, statutory rape, aggravated assault, unlawful restraint, and furnishing illegal drugs to a minor;
Was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography;
Has faced allegations of sexual abuse and imprisonment of women under threats of violence and familial harm;
Together, we call on the following corporations and venues with ties to R. Kelly to join us and insist on safety and dignity for women of all kinds:
RCA Records - The venerable music label currently produces and distributes R. Kelly’s music;
Ticketmaster - The popular ticketing system is currently issuing tickets for R. Kelly’s show on May 11;
Spotify and Apple Music - The popular streaming platforms currently monetizing R. Kelly’s music;
Greensboro Coliseum Complex - The venue is currently hosting an R. Kelly concert on May 11.
The scars of history make certain that we are not interested in persecuting anyone without just cause. 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.
Together, We Are Strong,
WOC | TIME’S UP