The TIME’S Up campaign against sexual assault and harassment has turned its attention to R Kelly with top black women in media such as Shonda Rhimes, Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, Eva Longoria and Eva Duvernay lending their voices. The campaign is taking effect because R Kelley’s Concert in Chicago was cancelled over the weekend.
The popular singer has been accused of sexually abusing women, accusations that he denies over and over again. Campaign organisers are calling for him to be investigated.
An open letter addressed to “our fellow women of colour” was released by Time’s Up this week, saying ‘MuteRKelly’ and it read.
“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,” the letter states.
It goes on to say: “During this time, he also … Married a girl under 18 years of age, was sued by at least four 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.”
A number of celebrities have backed the campaign, which was originally started last year, and expressed their support for it on social media.
Ava DuVernay tweeted: “We join the call to #MuteRKelly and insist on the safety + dignity of all women. We demand investigations into R Kelly’s abuse allegations made by women of color + their families for two decades. We call on those who profit from his music to cut ties.”
“I stand with the women of Time’s Up. Mute R Kelly,” John Legend tweeted, adding his voice to the campaign.
Tarana Burke, longtime activist and co-founder of the MeToo movement, said: “All, all, all in together girls…It’s going down! Mute R Kelly once and for all!”
R Kelly’s team have released a statement in response to the Time’s Up campaign.
The statement reads: “Kelly supports the pro-women goals of the Time’s Up movement. We understand criticising a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals — and in this case, it is unjust and off-target.
“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.”
Time’s Up, which was formed in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, has called for further investigation into R Kelly’s conduct after a number of women have come forward claiming that he sexually abused them.