CONTENT WARNING: The following article discusses alleged sexual assault.
The ‘Time’s Up’ movement against sexual harassment has joined a campaign to boycott singer R. Kelly, amid allegations of sexual misconduct, including with underaged women.
WOC, the women of colour branch within Time’s Up, has announced in a statement that it has joined the #MuteRKelly campaign, saying, “For too long, our community has ignored our pain. The pain we bear is a burden that too many women of color have had to bear for centuries. The wounds run deep.”
WOC also called on Kelly’s record label RCA Records, streaming services Spotify and Apple Music and ticketing company Ticketmaster to boycott R. Kelly and his music, and to “insist on safety and dignity for women of all kinds”.
WOC’s push has already been supported by high profile black women such as Ava DuVernay, Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o…
We join the call to #MuteRKelly and insist on the safety + dignity of all women. We demand investigations into R. Kelly’s abuse allegations made by women of color + their families for two decades. We call on those who profit from his music to cut ties. #MuteRKelly #TIMESUP #WOC pic.twitter.com/TYmDRVIH00
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) April 30, 2018
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) April 30, 2018
— Lupita Nyong'o (@Lupita_Nyongo) April 30, 2018
…and has also gained support from black male artists such as John Legend and Moses Sumney:
— John Legend (@johnlegend) April 30, 2018
Responding to WOC in a statement to Variety, R. Kelly’s management suggested the singer is being targeted because he is a black man.
“Kelly supports the pro-women goals of the Time’s Up movement. We understand criticizing a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals—and in this case, it is unjust and off-target,” the statement reads.
“We fully support the rights of women to be empowered to make their own choices. Time’s Up has neglected to speak with any of the women who welcome R. Kelly’s support, and it has rushed to judgment without the facts. Soon it will become clear Mr. Kelly is the target of a greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean him, his family and the women with whom he spends his time.
“Kelly’s music is a part of American and African-American culture that should never—and will never—be silenced. Since America was born, black men and women have been lynched for having sex or for being accused of it. We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.”
Kelly has previously been accused of running an “abusive sex cult” and of imprisoning women in his homes. He reportedly had an annulled marriage with singer Aaliyah, who was allegedly 15 at the time of the marriage, and a trial involving a video allegedly showing him having sex with an underage woman, for which he was eventually acquitted.
Kelly has denied all of the allegations which have been made against him.