The controversy surrounding R. Kelly and his relationships with teenage girls have been the topic of discussion as of lately. The topic has led to many debates in the black community. It has shined light on the sexual abuse of young girls in hip hop culture as well as amongst black communities and families. For many of us, watching the documentary left us perplexed and wondering how R. Kelly's behavior was able to float under the radar for so long. Is it possible that people really turned their heads when the information first emerged or was it that people were oblivious to the truth? Whatever the case is I think the documentary has forced the black community to step up and take accountability for the inappropriate behavior that has been occurring between grown men and young girls for years.
Personally speaking I can recall being between the ages of sixteen and seventeen years old when grown men started to pay attention to me. I remember being seventeen years old and having a man that was twenty-nine years old tell me that he had a crush on me. At the time I was flattered by the attention and flirted with the idea, but never enough to actually go through with having sex with anyone outside of my age group. It made me feel special that an older man would take a liking to me. During my second year of college I began an on and off again relationship with a man who was eleven years my senior. Although, I was twenty years old at the time I felt like I was grown, so him being thirty-one years old didn't bother me. Age ain’t nothing but a number, or so I thought! It wasn't until I was two years into the relationship that I realized how fast I was forced to grow up, and in a sense missed out on the youthfulness of my early twenties. The older I became the more I realized how emotionally unprepared I was to be in a relationship with a such an older man.
The documentary also brung sexual abuse in black households to the forefront. I have heard endless stories from people close to me about being molested by men in their families or by their mother’s boyfriend. The most disheartening part of this outside of the molestation itself, is the fact that a lot of families choose to keep the incident a secret in an attempt to not “breakup” the family.
My hope is that we do better as a community to protect our precious little girls.