In what has been one of the biggest news stories of the week (if not the past number of years), new investigations have been opened into allegations of abuse against hip-hop star R Kelly. A number of R Kelly collaborators have spoken out against his actions, and have apologised for past projects with the star, including Lady Gaga and Chance the Rapper.
While those who have profited from collaborating with R Kelly have reason to clarify their positions (and to confirm they will not be working with the singer again), one person who has been forced to comment on the story shows the darker side of social media pressures. Buku Abi, one of R Kelly’s estranged children, released a statement on her Instagram stories last night addressing the allegations and apologising for her silence up until this point.
Abi said she was “devastated” by the allegations; clarifying she, her siblings and her mother have not had a relationship with R Kelly for years. She said, “the same monster you are all confronting me about is my father. I am well aware of who and what he is. I grew up in that house.”
You can read her statement in full here:
R Kelly’s estranged daughter Buku Abi speaks out against her father, apologizes for taking so long long to say something. Calls him a monster and says that she, her mother and siblings don’t condone Kelly’s behavior pic.twitter.com/SlYh3unopN
— BallerAlert (@balleralert) January 10, 2019
While social media users have praised Abi’s statement and her honesty and compassion for the alleged victims, the question still needs to be asked: why did she have to make the statement at all?
Abi acknowledges the pressures that were placed on her and her family to make a statement in the midst of the controversy, saying she had received, “rude comments about my family, fabricating me, my siblings and our mother’s ‘part’, etc”.
Abi has been estranged from her father for years and has distanced herself from him in order to best-aid her own mental health and wellbeing. She, as a child growing up with R Kelly as a father, had no control over his actions as an adult.
While stars and celebrities in the public eye who have worked with R Kelly may have a responsibility to their fans to clarify their positions, a young woman who has distanced herself from public life does not.
The pressure placed on Abi and her family to speak up is misplaced – R Kelly is the one accused of abuse, not them. Why do we consistently look to the families, particularly the female members, to speak on behalf of the men who are accused of wrongdoing?
Women do not have a responsibility to represent men, regardless of whether they’re related or not. Abi showed incredible bravery in her considered and compassionate statement last night, but we, in turn, need to consider why she had to do so in the first place.