R. Kelly praised God when a Chicago jury ruled he was not guilty on 14 counts of child pornography this month, but that verdict has sparked hundreds of Black men to sign a petition that criticizes the singer.
The 41-year-old R&B star has always denied he was the man in a video having sex with an underage girl. While it took six years for the case to go to trial, Kelly’s popularity never dwindled.
The petition started by 19 black male writers was written by journalist Kevin Powell and William Jelani Cobb, an associate professor of history at Spelman College. The petition claims African-Americans have taken to the street when Black men are victims of injustice, but stay silent when Black women are abused.
“This is about more than R. Kelly’s claims to innocence,” according to the petition. “It is about our survival as a community.” As of Tuesday, about 1000 Black men had signed the petition that challenges them to never abuse Black women, to support Black women, and to reject Kelly unless he apologizes for his behavior toward women.
Cobb told ESSENCE the petition is a public demonstration of Black men’s disapproval of the verdict. “We wanted to make it clear that there were Black men who were strongly opposed to how the case played out,’’ he said.
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