On Tuesday night, reporter Jim DeRogatis, #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, and writer Jamilah Lemieux sat for a conversation about R. Kelly, Chicago, sexual violence, and DeRogatis’s new book, Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly. During the talk, Burke discussed the open letter from the Women of Color of Time’s Up that asked corporations to cut ties with the singer following allegations of sex with underage girls and DeRogatis’s own reporting, which alleged that Kelly was holding women captive. “We had a Time’s Up situation where the black women in Time’s Up came out in support of #MuteRKelly. What that took is another conversation,” Burke said. “Prior to that, I had one-on-one conversations with black women in Hollywood and black women in music because folks were doing stories and they wanted a prominent black woman to go on record and talk about it. The only one who would do it was Ava DuVernay. The only one.”
Burke said Kelly’s influence loomed large: “I asked a singer who I didn’t even think could have a connection to him, and she said, ‘Well, I don’t know, because we share some writers,’” Burke said. “Another woman said, ‘I would love to, but the backlash I would get on Twitter, I’m just not ready for it.’” See the full conversation below.
Kelly is currently the subject of multiple investigations across federal and state courts. In Cook County, prosecutors have charged Kelly with four counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, two counts of criminal sexual assault by force, two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against a victim between the ages of 13 and 16, according to the Chicago Sun Times. Kelly is currently free on $1 million bond.