In Lifetime's "Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning," Dominique Gardner describes life with Kelly. The R&B singer is sentenced to 30 years in prison on charges including sex trafficking, sexual exploitation of a child, bribery and racketeering. (Lifetime)

Arts and Entertainment

Opinion: Documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ finally shines a light on abuse

<a href="" target="_self">Melanie Orellana</a>

Melanie Orellana

October 27, 2022

Content warning: This story includes mentions of sexual abuse and physical abuse against women.

Our society needs to do a better job of protecting our women of color. A white woman has a better chance of being cared for than a Black woman. R. Kelly, “The Pied Piper” is a perfect example. If you have noticed there is a pattern that is significant to R. Kelly. He only preyed on Black teenage girls and it is very disgusting how no one helped them.

Robert could not write or read, so how was he booking hotels for his shows or when he was visiting a place? People were working for him who simply did not care and let things slide, they protected him. Why did it take so long to help these poor innocent girls? They are just as important as a white teenager.

The Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” shines the light on the allegations. Justice is finally being served for these women that are now facing trauma and backlash. This has been going on since the 1990s, no one believed them and brushed them off.

The documentary series opens with several women’s voices saying at what age they met R. Kelly. Most were 14 to 17.

Tiffany Hawkins was 15 when she met R. Kelly and she was just supposed to be nothing more than a backup singer. An innocent child aspiring to sing was taken advantage of by a grown man who knew right and wrong. There’s also well-known singer Aaliyah who was a victim of R. Kelly.

Aaliyah was 12 when she met R. Kelly through her uncle, Barry Hankerson, who was R. Kelly’s manager. He helped produce her first album “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number” in May 1994. He then married her in August 1994.

After two months into the marriage, it was annulled and she was paid $100 to keep her from taking any legal action, Demetrius Smith said in the documentary. Smith, former tour manager and personal assistant of R. Kelly, was a witness when Aaliyah got married. He even said, “Aaliyah looked worried and scared.”

What is interesting about this documentary is that the producers or filmmakers don’t make any comments or ask any questions. It’s as if the people on the show speak their mind and heart out, letting the words flow out in a strong, powerful way.

Society needs to do a better job of caring for Black teenage girls and women. They are not less than white teenage women. R. Kelly is sentenced to 30 years in prison for all of his victims that he has traumatized and scarred. He is only facing 30 years. He has two pending trials in Minnesota and Chicago, according to the L.A. Times.

So he probably won’t look at the outside world for a long time. The victims need an apology from everyone who failed them, the justice system needs to apologize for overlooking them.

The docuseries has two parts which have five episodes each. The Lifetime documentary series is now streaming on Netflix.

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