The R&B star R. Kelly is headed to the University of Illinois at Chicago next Saturday, but activists within the university staff and community are standing with the #MuteRKelly campaign in hopes to get the show pulled.
The director of Women’s Leadership and Resource Center at UIC, Natalie Bennett, requested that the R. Kelly concert at the school be cancelled, via a Facebook letter online addressed to UIC’s Chancellor, Michael Amiridis. She asked why he is performing in the first place with a long history of allegations of improper sexual advances.
“To host the concert at UIC is to condone the harm that he has done to African American women and girls, create a hostile work environment for Black women who work, study and live at UIC,” the letter reads.
Bennett told the Chicago Tribune that she was “taken aback” to learn that the concert was happening, and after speaking to more staff members, decided it would be best to put their questions and concerns in a letter for the chancellor. So far, the letter currently has 1,300 signatures, and once the organizers reach 1,500, they plan to deliver the letter to Admiridis.
The 51-year-old Grammy-award winning artist has faced severe backlash throughout recent years for numerous sexual assault allegations. Back in 2008, he was acquitted of child pornography by a Cook Country, Illinois jury. Last year, BuzzFeed reported that a group of parents alleged that he held their daughters in a “sex cult.” He has faced numerous accusations of engaging in “inappropriate sexual contact with a minor,” and according to Vox Media, settled out of court on multiple occasions.
Vox completely outlined R. Kelly’s 24 years of accusations, starting in 1994 when he married a 15-year-old girl, and through the numerous times he’s been sued. It’s not over yet, either – just last week, he was accused of “knowingly and intentionally infecting” a woman with an STD. The publication describes ignoring these persistent allegations as “just part of being an R. Kelly fan.”
“The saddest fact I’ve learned is: Nobody matters less to our society than young black women,” Jim DeRogatis, a reporter for The Village Voice, said in his R. Kelly story. “Nobody.”
“Is it that nobody cares,” Bennett told the Tribune, “or that they think these particular bodies don’t matter?”
Kelly is slated to perform next Saturday, May 5 at UIC for ‘Love Jam.’ So far, a protest is planned for the night of the concert, with other plans in the works. Bennett is working alongside women from the #MuteRKelly campaign on Twitter, which has already sparked serious noise in the movement. So far, they have managed to get Tom Joyner to ban Kelly’s music from his morning radio show, and had nine of his concerts shut down.
Last week, Kelly’s publicist, lawyer, and assistant resigned.
Bennett, among others involved in the #MuteRKelly movement, have scheduled a protest the night of the concert at the pavilion. Co-founder of the campaign, Kenyette “Tish” Barnes, said on Twitter that she is “working directly with the sisters/organizers in Chicago” to shut the concert down.