“I didn’t value the accusers’ stories because they were black women,” Chance the Rapper said in the final episode of Lifetime’s six-part documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” which aired last week.
A few hours before the show, Chance wrote on Twitter: “Any of us who ever ignored the R. Kelly stories, or ever believed he was being set up/attacked by the system (as black men often are) were doing so at the detriment of black women and girls.”
Chance’s blunt admission has long been true. For 20 years, black girls and women accused the R&B singer Robert Kelly of sexually assaulting minors. Yet he still enjoyed enormous success.
So his spectacular fall — due in large part to the work of Dream Hampton, an executive producer of the documentary — marks a seismic cultural shift. Over the past week, we’ve had conversations with many people who had never believed black girls’ allegations against him until they saw the documentary (which, full disclosure, we consulted on in its early stages).
Salamishah Tillet (@salamishah) is a professor of African-American and African studies and creative writing at Rutgers. Scheherazade Tillet (@shertillet) is an art therapist and a social documentary photographer. They co-founded A Long Walk Home, a nonprofit that uses art to empower young people to end violence against girls and women.