Music

“The Industry Enable Him At Every Turn”: Roxane Gay Says What We’re All Thinking About R. Kelly

"Fans can't support music that isn't being made, promoted or toured."

This report discusses allegations of sexual assault.

Yesterday BuzzFeed News published an explosive report alleging that R&B singer R. Kelly is holding multiple women, possibly against their wills, at his homes in Atlanta and Chicago, in what some of the women’s families have described as an abusive “cult”.

According to BuzzFeed News, six women currently live at properties rented by Kelly, where he controls “every aspect” of their lives — from what they eat and how they dress to when they bathe, sleep and engage in sexual encounters. BuzzFeed News also alleged that Kelly controls the girls’ phone use, that they are cut off from their families, required to ask his permission to leave the house, and are punished verbally and physically if they break any of his “rules”.

Most of the girls living with Kelly are aspiring singers who began their relationship with the superstar when they were in their late teens.

It’s a mind-boggling and deeply upsetting report, but it’s not the first allegation of this type for Kelly, an artist who has been dogged by accusations of rape and child pornography for at least 15 years.

So if you were wondering just how the 50-year-old has managed to maintain a successful music career all this time, rest assured you’re not alone.

In a series of tweets today, Bad Feminist author and Mia Freedman adversary Roxane Gay has slammed not only Kelly but the music industry that supports him, from venues through to labels and the artists who keep his name in the charts — like Lady Gaga, who collaborated with Kelly on the 2013 track ‘Do What U Want’.


Many others have pointed out that it’s likely that Kelly would never have survived so many sexual misconduct allegations had his alleged victims been white.

But Gay says it’s important to remember where the blame for Kelly’s continued success really lies. “Don’t you put this on black women. Do. Not,” she tweeted. “Are black women part of his fandom? Yes, but so are people from every other walk of life. There’s PLENTY of blame to go around.”

Head to Buzzfeed to read the full story.

Roxane Gay photo by Eva Blue