“To attribute the rehabilitation of R. Kelly as a musical hero to his music alone would be lazy. I believe who his victims have been — and, crucially, what they look like — plays a massive part in our collective willingness to embrace a predator. They were all little black girls.
Recently a trending topic on Twitter called #fasttailgirls was started by @karnythia and moderated by @hoodfeminism. It discussed the sexualization of young black girls and how, due to no fault of their own, young black girls are made responsible when their bodies are violated. In this context the victims are criminalized and chastised, and the perpetrators valorized.
As I read the trending topic and watched women boldly share their truth, it occurred to me why R. Kelly’s comeback disturbs me so much. If R. Kelly’s victims had looked different, had fit the archetype of what we believe victims typically look like (whiter, blonder and more in line with what we’re taught to associate with innocence), maybe there would be uproar.
“So yes, you’re fine just the way you are. There’s nothing wrong with how you act, or what you wear, or who your friends are. But if you want to try something new, there’s nothing wrong with that either. It doesn’t mean you have a bad self esteem or you’re not grateful for what you have. I’ve tried to change many things about myself, but it doesn’t mean I love myself any less than I ever did. In fact, I think it’s made me appreciate myself even more. I’m walking around, feeling like a completely exclusive piece of art that I created on my own.”—Julia Bluhm, The Art of Recreating Yourself (via sparkamovement)