Durham, NC – For close to two decades, women have come forward to accuse R. Kelly of sexual assault and misconduct. Their claims have been not just covered in the press but examined with lawsuits that date back over 20 years.
But this week Omisade Burney-Scott, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Advocacy with SisterSong announced they are working with local organizers in North Carolina to push for the cancellation of his May 11th concert in Greensboro, NC. Since the hashtag #MuteRKelly and national movement were launched last summer, 10 of the musician’s concerts have been canceled.
SisterSong is a Southern based, national membership organization with a mission to strengthen and amplify the collective voices of indigenous women and women of color to achieve reproductive justice by eradicating reproductive oppression and securing human rights.
Below is the statement issued by SisterSong on the national effort to push Sony and Live Nation to drop ties to R. Kelly as a result of his long history of abusing and exploiting young, Black women:
“For more than twenty years, SisterSong has worked to amplify the voices and lived experiences of women of color and Indigenous women in order to push back on oppression and advance reproductive justice and liberation. This work is critical in the face of the pervasive silencing of women and girls of color who have experienced sexual violence.
The harassment and assault that women face throughout our lives has received increased attention as a result of the #MeToo movement, an effort started years before by Tarana Burke after she met a 13-year-old girl who had been sexually abused. But the fact is that women of color are too often still not being heard and the power of the spotlight of celebrity can still blind too many to seeing what is happening to women in our communities. That is where the #TimesUp movement has pushed to try to ensure that fame does not shield predatory men from the same accountability.
For every Black woman who reports a rape, there are at least 15 who do not. We are portrayed as promiscuous. Our lives are treated as less than-like we don’t deserve respect or that our voices do not need to be heard. But for Black women who exist at the intersection of racism and sexism, we know that these movements do not always see us. So we have to make our own moments and our own movements to make it clear that that our trauma be acknowledged and our lives be valued.
That is where the renewed call to “Mute R. Kelly” comes in. The rampant degradation and violence that R&B singer, R.Kelly has perpetuated is widely known and yet he has sold millions of albums and is still played on radio and streaming services throughout the country. This is in spite of secretly marrying a 15 year-old when he was 27 – someone he was rumored to have started a relationship when she was 12 years old. He has been sued by at least four women for sexual misconduct and was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography. He also faced countless allegations for the sexual abuse and imprisonment of young women under threats of violence and familial harm.
Corporations continue to give platform to this dangerous, violent man, so that he can be lauded and loved. We are coming together to say time’s up. No more!
SisterSong is proud to support the efforts of #MuteRKelly to tell Live Nation to cancel his upcoming shows and call on Sony to drop his recording contract through a national petition and organizing campaign.
We are also working with local organizers in North Carolina to push for the cancellation of a May 11th concert in Greensboro, NC. We will work to shut this event down and if it moves forward, we will be there to protest.
A study found 60 percent of the Black women surveyed had experienced sexual abuse before the age of 18. And advocates consider intimate partner homicide one of the leading causes of death for Black women between the ages of 15 and 35. But we will not be victims. We will come together as we have done time and again. We will not wait to be invited to tables or meetings. We will make things happen. Black women have been at the forefront of every movement for social justice and change in this country. We will continue to make sure that our voices are heard and that our experiences and our needs and our justice are not just considered, but centered.
And if you come for us and if you hurt us, we will come for you. We will not be silenced, but we will do all we can to shut off the microphones and take back the power from anyone who would use their privilege or their celebrity to prey on Black women.”
Partners working to help amplify the #MuteRKelly effort and support the voices and needs of Black women survivors include:
- North Carolina Black Women’s Roundtable
- Be Connected Durham
- NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina
- North Carolina Women United
- Professional Black Girl
- Spirithouse, Inc.
- Worthy Women NC
- YWCA of Greensboro
For more info on SisterSong and how you can join, visit http://sistersong.net/