Opinion: R. Kelly and the Interview That Should Have Never Happened

R. Kelly appeared on “CBS Morning News” on Wednesday morning with Gayle King. In an exclusive interview, the singer, who is facing sexual abuse charges, denied the allegations. His current charges involve four women, three of whom were underage at the time of the reported events. There have also been reports of a sex cult involving the scandalous singer.

Typically, I am all for getting both sides of the story but quite frankly, whatever R. Kelly has to say, should be saved for court. For decades, R. Kelly has maintained his platform, success, and fanbase even as his victims tried to regain some semblance of a normal life.

The highly successful Lifetime documentary, “Surviving R. Kelly,”  highlighted some of the survivors. It was gut-wrenching to watch. Watching those young women recall their trauma and carry the guilt of being duped by the predatory R. Kelly caused visceral actions from many viewers — present company included.

But nothing could have prepared Black women, specifically, for the blatant disregard and disrespect that was displayed in his interview with Gayle King.

R. Kelly “became emotional” during the interview sit down while denying all allegations of 10 counts of sexual abuse and denies holding any woman against their will.

He exclaimed during the sit down: “I didn’t do this stuff! This is not me. I am fighting for my f—–g life! That’s stupid! Use your common sense. Forget how you feel about me. Hate me if you want to. Love me if you want. Just use your common sense. How stupid would it be for me, with my crazy past and what I have been through, now I need to be a monster and hold girls against their will and chain them in my basement and don’t let them eat?”

His sociopathic rant of innocence was not only infuriating but it was arrogant. Pay close attention to what he didn’t say during his dramatic bluster. Kelly never said he was innocent. He questioned people’s common sense. He also said “he beat his cases.”

There’s a huge difference between “beating a case” and not doing the crime. Those crocodile tears were wasted. I am not moved. As a Black woman with a Black daughter, I don’t need a court of law to establish his guilt. And up until now, the court of public opinion has been useless as well. Corporations still played his music and videos. He still performed at sold-out shows with many of his supporters being Black women.

But the one thing that’s most disappointing about this interview is: R. Kelly was presented with an opportunity to victimize his survivors again but this time a major network was complicit in that trauma. And adding more insult to injury, the network used a Black woman to do it.

Maybe Gayle King could have declined it. Who knows? But what is known is CBS, as with most of the world, didn’t care about Black women and girls this past Wednesday morning. It cared more about ratings, ad revenue, and getting an exclusive at the expense of his survivors.

And this is not about being fair. The decision to interview R. Kelly was taken through a chain of command. And it appears that nobody stood up for Black women — not even Gayle King. No one in the board room realized that giving R. Kelly a space to speak his peace is something that has already been done. When Black women via a documentary asked for people to believe them after a brilliant but devastating show of bravery, CBS decided to air his side of the story as if Black folks haven’t known it for over two decades.

There’s one more thing that is painfully obvious about this situation — Black women and girls will have to continue to advocate, love and protect one another because no one else is going to do it.


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