R. Kelly docuseries leaves behind a burning question: do black girls’ lives matter?
(CNN) — Following the “Surviving R. Kelly” finale, Jada Pinkett Smith, Chance the Rapper and other celebrities are asking, “Do black girls’ lives matter?”
The six-part docuseries featured accounts from accusers and Kelly’s close friends on his life and allegations of abuse, predatory behavior and pedophilia.
Kelly’s lawyer said the documentary is filled with false allegations, and has suggested the subjects are defaming his client for personal gain, according to Billboard.
In 2002, Kelly was charged with 21 counts of child pornography for a videotape that allegedly showed him having sex with an unidentified underage girl. He was acquitted, and his lawyers at the time said Kelly was not in the video, and suggested his likeness may have been computer-generated.
In 2017, he was accused of having a sexual relationship with a teen. At the time, Kelly’s publicist denied previous allegations, saying they were “made up by individuals known to be dishonest.”
But after Saturday’s last episode of the series, people who took to social media had one question: why did no one care about the girls?
The conversation stems partly from a controversial statement Chance The Rapper made — and which was used in the documentary — in which he said he didn’t care about the allegations at the time, because they were coming from black women.
Chance said on Twitter the quote was taken out of context.
Chance published the full segment of the interview from which his quote was used, saying in it, “We’re programmed to be hyper-sensitive to black male oppression.”
“Black women are exponentially a higher oppressed and violated group of people just in comparison to the whole world. Maybe I didn’t care because I didn’t value the accusers’ stories… because they were black women.”
Others also admitted to looking away for too long.
“We’ve all been inspired by this man,” singer Tank wrote on Instagram. “We’ve invested so much of ourselves into this man that it’s hard for us to let go. I no longer have that issue.”
“I whole heartedly apologize for not coming to this realization sooner. I (CANNOT) separate the music from the monster! My 3 black daughters won’t let me,” he said.
John Legend, who appeared in the series, along other celebrities like #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, talk-show host Wendy Williams and Kelly’s ex-wife Andrea Kelly, had a strong message for social media.
“To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn’t feel risky at all,” he wrote on Twitter. “I believe these women and don’t give a f*** about protecting a serial child rapist. Easy decision.”
Kelly’s attorney, Brian Nix, has not responded to requests for comment by CNN.
“There is NO excuse,” singer Ne-Yo posted. ” Music is important. It really is. But it’s not more important than protecting our children, protecting our little girls. PERIOD.”
Jada Pinkett Smith: Do black girls matter enough?
“R Kelly’s music sales and his streams have spiked substantially since the release of ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ docuseries, and I’m having a really difficult time understanding why,” Jada Pinkett Smith asked.
“I really don’t want to believe it’s because black girls don’t matter enough. Or is that the reason?”
“The sad truth is,” human rights organization BlackWomensBlueprint tweeted, “Survivors… still face pushback from naysayers who question their stories or dismiss the crisis of sexual assault — especially against Black women and girls. It’s a terrible burden to have to endure.”
Executive producer and showrunner Dream Hampton says she hopes “Surviving R. Kelly” serves as a starter tool to “shift culture” and “talk about rape culture and organize against patriarchy, which harms us all.”
Nonprofit advocacy organization Color of Change tweeted the “strength of Black women & girls is determined by how much suffering we can endure.”
“The women in #SurvivingRKelly are our heroes. But damn it if they deserved better. Too many of us still do.”