Checking twitter recently, I saw a status from @BlackWomensBlueprint that said:
"Do not let this recent focus on Black women and girls be just a 'moment' in culture. Do not let it fade from your hearts and minds. Protect Black girls in your homes and communities - long after R. Kelly is behind bars."
This status is in reference to "Surviving R. Kelly" the documentary that recently aired on Lifetime that set twitter and America ablaze with its detailed accounts of serial rapist and R&B music artist R. Kelly and his brainwashing and manipulation of Black women and girls. This documentary was important for so many reasons and in so many ways because it shed light on how much society doesn't recognize the humanity of Black girls. Additionally, the entertainment industry and fans were put on alert as to how much power they give abusers by supporting their art.
After watching the series, I found the need to do a lot of self care. I took a long, quiet bath and sat in silence. I talked with my mother and sisters. I took a walk through the park. These were things that I needed to do because, to be quite honest, just watching that documentary was exhausting. By watching these women relive their trauma, I was reliving it WITH them. When the documentary referenced a fourteen year old girl who'd been abused, I remembered myself at fourteen. I thought of my fourteen year old niece. I thought of young girls in my neighborhood. And it was devastating.
For this reason, I implore those of you who have watched the documentary who have been through sexual abuse trauma and really, any kind of abuse... please take the time to nurture yourself. Growing up doesn't mean that all of our childhood fears, experiences and let downs are behind us. In fact, growing up means having the tools to now take care of your inner child, assuring her that you are in total control and she doesn't have to worry about being let down again.
Additionally, we must protect our girls. One of the recurring themes throughout the docuseries was the number of witnesses to the abuse that these girls faced who said nothing. I noticed that many of these people were the men that R. Kelly kept around him - as many of the women had already been psychologically abused and brainwashed. The men expressed their sadness (and sometimes, surprise *eyeroll*) at what they saw R. Kelly do but did nothing more. This is a problem.
R. Kelly was enabled by a fraternity of men who felt it more important to keep a code of silence, than to help young women. After the series was over, I felt the need to talk to my husband - a black man - about how important it is for men to be symbols of safety and strength in our community as opposed to bodyguards for evil. As women, we must hold our sons, brothers, husbands and fathers accountable. Empower them. Remind them that it is their duty to us to stand up to their male friends and protect the more vulnerable in our society. There should be no code of silence amongst men when it comes to hurting young girls. There should be no pride in cozying up to abusers while victims are left to fend for themselves.
As women, we must encourage young girls, NOT shame them. We all know what it feels like to be young and naive. After seeing the documentary, I didn't think ANY of those girls and women deserved what they experienced at R. Kelly's hands. However, I saw endless posts on social media from women who (likely coping with their own internalized trauma) blamed them for "putting themselves in bad situations" or "being fast." The sooner that those of us (who know better) can correct those with that mindset, the sooner we can get to the real root of the problem... shutting down predators that take advantage of young women.
So with all of this, I say that a lot of work must be done when it comes to healing the Black community. But this docuseries was an excellent first step.