The Women of Color (WOC) group within the Time’s Up movement announced this morning that it would be joining an already existing online campaign to #MuteRKelly. The decorated Chicago singer and songwriter has been repeatedly called out for his predatory and abusive behavior against women, but unlike men like Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, and others who have had their careers recently altered by the revealing of their offenses, Kelly’s career has remained intact. Billboard reports that as of this morning, the WOC group has endorsed the campaign to #MuteRKelly, and they’ve called for an investigation into his actions.
In a letter originally published by The Root, the group says: “The scars of history make certain that we are not interested in persecuting anyone without just cause,” the letter states. “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 letter also lists a breakdown of the allegations and legal actions taken against R. Kelly over the past 25 years which include marrying late singer Aaliyah when she was under 18 years old, being indicted on child pornography charges, and allegations of physical abuse against women.
#MuteRKelly was a hashtag started last year by activist Kenyette Barnes, but today, celebrities such as Ava Duvernay, John Legend, Quest Love, and more have joined the movement. This comes after Vince Staples criticized Kelly during an interview at Coachella earlier this month. In March, artist and producer Jack Antonoff tweeted that he’d asked RCA to drop Kelly multiple times.
Update – April 30, 2018, 5:50pm: R. Kelly’s team issued the following statement to Variety:
Kelly supports the pro-women goals of the Time’s Up movement. We understand criticizing a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals—and in this case, it is unjust and off-target. We fully support the rights of women to be empowered to make their own choices. Time’s Up has neglected to speak with any of the women who welcome R. Kelly’s support, and it has rushed to judgment without the facts. Soon it will become clear Mr. Kelly is the target of a greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean him, his family and the women with whom he spends his time.
Kelly’s music is a part of American and African-American culture that should never—and will never—be silenced. Since America was born, black men and women have been lynched for having sex or for being accused of it. We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.