Can We Survive Robert? – LI Team Member

By now many of us have witnessed the three night spectacle that was “Surviving R. Kelly”. If you were like me, you sat horrified, watching victim after victim recount horrific details of torture, barbarism, and sexual exploitation of the highest degree. I watched those brave women, display such strength that I still get chills.

By the end of the documentary, I was truly amazed at how they survived. I also became pretty convinced that we may not survive Robert. In some ways, I’m not really sure we deserve to.

We all knew right? I mean, it is not even controversial to say that at this point.

I remember seeing the interview of Robert and Aaliyah on BET when it aired. I remember reading about their “marriage” in the newspaper. I definitely remember talking to relatives in Chicago who told casual stories about how they knew Robert visited high schools. I definitely remember when he got arrested. And I definitely remember that complete bogus sham of a trial.

I also remember watching the Trapped in the Closet Series with my roommates in college. I remember gleefully “Stepping in the Name of Love” with friends and relatives at parties and weddings. I remember Believing I Could Fly. I remember. I remember.

And now I can’t forget. I can’t forget the expression and pain on his ex-wife’s face. I can’t forget the pleading of those parents who just wanted to see their daughters again. I can’t forget the faces of the victims. I can’t forget his smug face. I can’t forget his victims tears.

So now what? What is next? This doesn’t feel like one of those moments where an apology is enough. I mean, does restitution even exist in cases like this? Or redemption? Nor of Robert; his soul burned years ago. I mean of ours… I mean we can’t say “now we know”… most of us already did. We can’t say “we’ll do better in the future”; the situation with Aaliyah was 20 years ago, and the future looks eerily like the past [looking at you Aubrey]. We can’t say “we’ll actually care to protect black girls now from depraved exploitation now”… We can’t.

We Can’t…. I can’t. I mean I want to. I really really want to… but I also bought the Chocolate Factory in 2003. Apparently over 3 million other people did too.

So what do we do? Last I heard, the DA in Atlanta was investigating to see if possible charges could be brought against Robert. Forgive me for yawning. While I am fully in support of locking up serial abusers, stories of Robert running a cult in Atlanta came out almost two years ago. Kinda late to the party at this point. Then again, technically I showed up late too, so… yea…

Apologies just feel worthless. Anger feels cheap. Even Action against Robert feels at least 20 victims too late.

Shame. Yea… Shame. Maybe thats the answer. Lets start with Shame. Shame on you Robert, for every despicable act you have occurred. Shame on all those people who surrounded him, who never did a thing to help. Shame on society, for lifting up this man and presenting him as any kind of hero. Shame on me, for dancing and singing along to my radio and pretending I did not know what was going on…

Nah… Shame isn’t enough either. Thank God for every single victim who survived Robert. I’m not convinced the rest of us deserve to. Wear your shame openly. I know I do. I’m thinking about stitching a red “R” to the front of all my clothes. I mean, it worked for Hester, didn’t it?


  • Briana Trice says:

    I really enjoyed your post. MY biggest take away from this situation was not how do we punish Kelly, but more so how do we respond to the survivors. Why is it that the court of public opinion is ruling in the favor of a pedophilic kidnapper? Why is it that we are putting the victims on trial but not the perp? Why is it that it took 50+ interviews for us to even ‘tune-in’ to the ‘allegations’. Quite frankly you cannot separate the art from the man in this case. We owe these women!

  • Brianamarie Trice says:

    I really enjoyed this post. My biggest take away from this situation was not concerning Kelly at all. It’s not about how do we punish him but more so how do we respond to the survivors. I am so disgusted with the countless supporters who want to separate the artists from the man, calling these women liars. How is it that the court of public opinion is siding with a pedophilic kidnapper??? Why is it that these victims are being placed in trial but not him? Why is that we make women, SPECIFICALLY black women, prove to us that something happen? When do we start justifying the space and voices of the damaged? It’s a sad day in any society when we choose the love of an image over the lives of victims.

  • Anthony Felder says:

    What is most disturbing to me at this point is the response that I have heard from black males on these issues of sexual assault and abuse. Male privilege seems to be a tremendous barrier in being empathetic for the victims apart of this situation. Practices of victim blaming/shaming are disgusting and not useful in constructing solutions against this unacceptable behavior.

  • Ikeba Allen says:

    I too had heard of the varies ill act committed by R Kelly with young women prior to seeing this Docuseries, but there was something about watching it and actually learning about all the stories, women involved, and families that really touched me. It saddens me to know that he negatively affected so many women and continue too. I agree that it is shame on R Kelly, his team, and his legacy. It only saddens me more to know that there are other people like him out there and that there are more women being affected by that sick behavior. My only hope is that we become able to detect this behavior sooner, help the women involved, and ultimately support and help the women coming out of it.

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