The public outcry against singer R. Kelly is adding a chorus of new voices. The Women of Color (WOC) within the Time’s Up movement announces this morning (April 30) that its group is joining forces with the existing online campaign #MuteRKelly.
“The scars of history make certain that we are not interested in persecuting anyone without just cause,” reads the letter in part. “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.”
The WOC specifically directs its demand to RCA, Kelly’s label, as well as four other entities with current business ties to Kelly: Spotify, Apple Music, Ticketmaster and Greensboro Coliseum Complex. The latter two organizations are involved with Kelly’s upcoming May 11 show in Greensboro, North Carolina, one of the stops on the singer’s Memory Lane tour that began last November.
Targeting issues that are especially important to women and girls of color, The Women of Color of Time’s Up includes activists, executives, filmmakers, actresses, authors, athletes, women in tech, advertising, science and other industries. Among women of color who helped establish Time’s Up in January: producer Shonda Rhimes, actresses Rashida Jones, America Ferrara, Eva Longoria, Lena Waithe and Kerry Washington, director Ave Duvernay and attorneys Nina Shaw and Tina Tchen (also chair of the Recording Academy’s new task force for inclusion and diversity). Singer/actress Janelle Monae memorably spoke out in support of the Time’s Up movement during a speech at the 60th annual Grammy Awards.
Citing the recent guilty verdict reached in the sexual assault case against actor/comedian Bill Cosby, the WOC letter further notes, “For too long, our community has ignored our pain … As Women of Color within Time’s Up, we recognize that we have a responsibility to help right this wrong. 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.” (The letter appears in its entirety below.)
The WOC’s message dovetails with that of the #MuteRKelly Care2 petition campaign. The website asks potential signees to “join us in telling Sony and Live Nation to #MuteRKelly for habitually preying on teenage girls for the past 25 years. Sign to tell Live Nation to cancel his upcoming shows and Sony to drop his recording contract.” Launched last July by Oronike Odeleye and Kenyette Barnes, #MuteRKelly currently counts 65,234 supporters toward its goal of 70,000.
Acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008, Kelly has since been the focus of multiple sexual misconduct allegations. Last summer, Buzzfeed reported about a group of parents who alleged that the singer was holding their daughters hostage in an abusive sex cult. This year, furor over Kelly has been growing even louder.
In support of #MuteRKelly, Protestors picketed outside Kelly’s show at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit in February. Artist/producer Jack Antonoff tweeted in March that he’d asked his label various times to drop R. Kelly; both record for RCA. That same month, BBC3 released its documentary R. Kelly: Sex, Girls and Videotapes in which a woman named Kitti Jones claimed she was forced into sex with Kelly and 10 others during her two years of dating the singer. This month, Vince Staples called Kelly a “child molester” during an interview at Coachella while a woman in Texas filed a police report in Dallas, alleging that Kelly had infected her with a sexually transmitted disease.
Soon thereafter, it was reported that three members of Kelly’s inner circle—attorney Linda Mensch, publicist Trevian Kutti and assistant Diana Copeland—had severed ties with the artist. Last week, after speaking with #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, syndicated radio personality Tom Joyner announced that he would no longer play Kelly’s music on his show. Also, several media outlets have since reported that Kelly is no longer on the lineup for the upcoming Love Jam concert at UIC Pavilion in Chicago on May 5.
Billboard has reached out to representatives for RCA, Spotify, Apple Music, Ticketmaster and Greensboro Coliseum Complex for comment.
Read the Women of Color/Time’s Up letter in its entirety below:
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 we will 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