A Labor of Love: Exposing R. Kelly

Black survivors, Equity, Power, Safety, Survivors

By Monifa Bandele

Black survivors and allies labor of love

When we act from a place of love for our community, we don’t hide the traumas or cover up harms. We don’t shush the mouths of those who are screaming in pain. We don’t fear how it might look to others outside of our community. 

Love requires us to expose our wounds so that they can get air, sunlight, be treated, and eventually be healed. Real love demands actions that center the health and safety of our people above keeping up appearances, vapid respectability, and being entertained. 

Love requires us to speak the truth and to defend Black lives from whomever is causing harm. 

For two decades, Black feminists worked day and night to give voice to Black women and girl survivors of R. Kelly and stop his open access to our families and communities. To say that the work was thankless is an understatement. Advocates were met with relentless attacks from every direction and Black women, who were the faces of groundbreaking campaigns like #MuteRKelly or game-changing creative pieces like #SurvivingRKelly, received messages of hate on multiple platforms and lived under constant threat. Even more gut wrenching is that the Black women survivors of R. Kelly were ridiculed, disrespected, and retraumatized over and over again. A central theme to these attacks: These women are “doing this” because they hate Black men and want to tear down the Black community.   

Nothing can be further from the truth. Black feminists and allies are committing the ultimate act of love for community and self by putting our bodies and livelihoods on the line to protect our children and families. Let’s center and support Black women survivors and follow, thank, and amplify those leaders and organizations doing the work.



WATCH: TIME'S UP Interim President and CEO, Monifa Bandele joins Surviving R. Kelly filmmaker, Dream Hampton on AMPLIFIED w/ Aisha Mills to discuss how media can expose sexual misconduct.