The organization sent out a statement Monday morning condemning R&B artist R. Kelly over the dozens of sexual misconduct allegations made against him, such as child sexual abuse and sex slavery. Time’s Up demanded “appropriate investigations and inquiries” into the allegations of sexual abuse, made primarily by black women and their families.
“To Our Fellow Women of Color: We see you. We hear you. Because we are you,” the Time’s Up statement reads. “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.”
The organization called on people to join the campaign by tweeting their support using the hashtag #MuteRKelly, and urged companies such as Ticketmaster, Spotify and Apple Music to cut ties with Kelly.
“We intend to shine a bright light on our WOC sisters in need. It is our hope that we will never feel ignored or silenced ever again,” the statement reads.
Kelly, who has repeatedly denied all allegations against him, responded to the Time’s Up announcement in a statement provided to BuzzFeed:
“R. 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,” his representative said in a statement to BuzzFeed News, calling the criticism of him an “attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.”
“We fully support the rights of women to be empowered to make their own choices,” the statement added. “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.” The statement said he is a victim of a “greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean him.”
“R. 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.”
Kelly’s most recent concert at the University of Illinois at Chicago was canceled Friday after students and staff protested.
Me Too movement founder Tarana Burke reacted to the statement on Twitter, writing: “This has been a long, hard, fought journey that SO MANY sisters have been on for more than a decade. This man is a predator and 100% of his victims have been Black and Brown girls. At times it felt like screaming into a well, but thank God for this reckoning coming.”
Kelly’s stardom has been marked by dozens of sexual misconduct allegations dating back to 1994, when he allegedly married R&B singer Aaliyah when she was 15 and he was 27. In 2008, Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges after a video showed him allegedly having sex with and urinating on a 14-year-old girl. He has agreed to multiple out-of-court settlements with women who accused him of sexual assault, including one who said Kelly had sex with her when she was 15.
Last year, a BuzzFeed report alleged the singer holds multiple young women against their will in an abusive sex cult. Rolling Stone also reported that Kelly’s ex-girlfriend, radio DJ Kitti Jones, said he abused, sexually assaulted and starved her throughout their two-year relationship.
As the Me Too movement took off this past fall, people wondered why it seemed to have glossed over the plethora of allegations against Kelly. Many believe it had to do with the fact that most of his alleged victims are young black women.
“Black girls exist at America’s most damned intersection: They are black. They are girls. And as R. Kelly abuses them, we too abuse in our silence,” HuffPost’s Ja’han Jones wrote last year.
“We call on people everywhere to join with us to insist on a world in which women of all kinds can pursue their dreams free from sexual assault, abuse and predatory behavior,” The Time’s Up statement reads.