BLACK VOICES
04/30/2018 12:18 pm ET Updated Apr 30, 2018

Time's Up Demands Investigation Into R. Kelly Sexual Abuse Accusations

The organization sent out a statement Monday morning calling on social media users to #MuteRKelly.
Singer R. Kelly performs are the St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival on May 12, 2013. 
Andrea De Silva / Reuters
Singer R. Kelly performs are the St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival on May 12, 2013. 

Time’s Up, the anti-sexual violence initiative created by women in hollywood in the wake of the Me Too movement, is calling on people to #MuteRKelly. 

The organization sent out a statement Monday morning condemning R&B artist R. Kelly over the dozens of sexual misconduct allegations made against him, such as child sexual abuse and sex slavery. Time’s Up demanded “appropriate investigations and inquiries” into the allegations of sexual abuse, made primarily by black women and their families

“To Our Fellow Women of Color: We see you. We hear you. Because we are you,” the Time’s Up statement reads. “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.”

The organization called on people to join the campaign by tweeting their support using the hashtag #MuteRKelly, and urged companies such as Ticketmaster, Spotify and Apple Music to cut ties with Kelly. 

“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 statement reads. 

Kelly, who has repeatedly denied all allegations against him, responded to the Time’s Up announcement in a statement provided to BuzzFeed

“R. Kelly supports the pro-women goals of the Time’s Up movement. We understand criticizing a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals — and in this case, it is unjust and off-target,” his representative said in a statement to BuzzFeed News, calling the criticism of him an “attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.”

“We fully support the rights of women to be empowered to make their own choices,” the statement added. “Time’s Up has neglected to speak with any of the women who welcome R. Kelly’s support, and it has rushed to judgment without the facts.” The statement said he is a victim of a “greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean him.”

“R. Kelly supports the pro-women goals of the Time’s Up movement. We understand criticizing a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals―-and in this case, it is unjust and off-target.”

Kelly’s most recent concert at the University of Illinois at Chicago was canceled Friday after students and staff protested. 

Me Too movement founder Tarana Burke reacted to the statement on Twitter, writing: “This has been a long, hard, fought journey that SO MANY sisters have been on for more than a decade. This man is a predator and 100% of his victims have been Black and Brown girls. At times it felt like screaming into a well, but thank God for this reckoning coming.”

Kelly’s stardom has been marked by dozens of sexual misconduct allegations dating back to 1994, when he allegedly married R&B singer Aaliyah when she was 15 and he was 27. In 2008, Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges after a video showed him allegedly having sex with and urinating on a 14-year-old girl. He has agreed to multiple out-of-court settlements with women who accused him of sexual assault, including one who said Kelly had sex with her when she was 15

Last year, a BuzzFeed report alleged the singer holds multiple young women against their will in an abusive sex cult. Rolling Stone also reported that Kelly’s ex-girlfriend, radio DJ Kitti Jones, said he abused, sexually assaulted and starved her throughout their two-year relationship. 

Kelly has sold nearly 60 million albums and continues to book concerts and receive big-name endorsements, despite the decades of allegations. 

As the Me Too movement took off this past fall, people wondered why it seemed to have glossed over the plethora of allegations against Kelly. Many believe it had to do with the fact that most of his alleged victims are young black women. 

“Black girls exist at America’s most damned intersection: They are black. They are girls. And as R. Kelly abuses them, we too abuse in our silence,” HuffPost’s Ja’han Jones wrote last year. 

“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 Time’s Up statement reads.

Celebrities and other Twitter users tweeted their support for the #MuteRKelly campaign. (Story continues below.) 

Read the Time’s Up letter below in full. 

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 wewill 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

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