After watching the first part of the “Surviving R Kelly” story on Lifetime there are a lot of thoughts flowing through my head, but the main one that won’t go away is society’s constant need to view Black children as adults well before they even become of age.
It’s simple. With young Black boys, there’s this notion that they are grown before they even become adults and it is everywhere they go… home, school, the grocery store, etc. They are referred to and treated as men well before they reach adulthood and the same goes for Black women. The term “fast” is always used to described Black girls if they do common girly things like playing in make-up, keeping up with the latest trends and styles, but the pressure never comes down on the adults who are viewing them as adults and sexualizing young Black girls well before they are of age and it’s absolutely horrifying.
There are tons of men in Black families who are very much like Robert Kelly. These are the uncles, grandfathers, cousins, family friends, you name them- who go on the prowl and prey on young Black women and sadly we as a people don’t talk about it enough. Why don’t we talk about it, you ask, well it is because men like Robert Kelly have a network of protectors who not only enable their sick predatory behavior but bear witness to what’s happening right before their eyes and yet still choose to ignore what’s going on.
Little black girls are being targeted at young ages and told that it is normal for grown ass men to touch them inappropriately, to silence and keep them from coming forward about such disturbing and sick men. On the other hand, little black boys experience the same type of sexual harassment at a young age and even Robert Kelly has admitted to being molested by family members at the tender age of seven. Both parties are sincerely affected, but often it is worse for black boys because they are silenced by the mere fact that engaging in sexual acts sooner, if you will, makes them the “man,” when these are performed with women who are way older than them and should be considered what it really is… child molestation and rape.
The Black community raves on being “a village” when it comes to raising children, but how is it that the same village that is supposed to create safe spaces for their protection is the same one that looks the other way or place blame on the children when they are indeed the victims in such situations? At what point do we hold each other accountable for sick and wrong behavior to end the vicious cycle of child molestation, rape, and incest within the Black family?
Who’s going to protect and cape for all of the young Black girls and boys who are crying for help because there are men and women in their lives who take advantage of them at a young age, and the people around to defend them only respond by encouraging them “not to be too grown” if they’re young black girls, or that “they’re the man” for young black boys who are sexualized as youth?
When will enough be enough, when will we as a “culture” and “society” protect one another, and stop allowing the Robert Kelly’s of the world to prey on our babies? When will we stop them from ruining their lives while still being able to live freely and even sit across the Thanksgiving dinner tables with victims who live with the silent trauma that not only have they been taken advantage of, but when they did confide in someone who’s supposed to be there for them, they were answered with silence or reprimanded for speaking up. How do we preserve the childhood of our innocent babies and hold the people who strip them of that innocence responsible? The downplay of the trauma that Black children encounter after being sexually abused has to stop and it starts with putting an end to the dehumanization that comes with viewing them as adults well before they even get a chance to fully enjoy the purity of childhood.
By: Shanique Yates
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