Of all the things I try to be, an ally to disenfranchised communities other than my own is something I value. Being empathetic is an important quality. I give my best effort to have empathy, and that is achieved by being an attentive listener.

Historically speaking, black women like me tend to do this. Name a national movement and we’ve been there: women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, LGBTQ rights and the “March For Our Lives” demonstration. Some of the recent, more prominent movements have even been started by black women (hello, Black Lives Matter and #MeToo).

We’ve been there supporting groups that, on the surface, seem to include us. But despite our involvement, these movements are often quick to dismiss us.

Burno, Christian.jpg

Burno is a public realtions senior and CommUNITY Voices guest columnist.

Earlier this month, six-part documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” premiered on the Lifetime TV network. The series details R&B singer R. Kelly’s alleged abuse of women and teenage girls, and sexual predatory patterns including accounts from female accusers and peers of his.

While I couldn’t even get through the first episode, people tuned in and tweeted their reactions. Most of the survivors featured were black women who came forward to talk about their experiences with him. Afterwards, most of the support I saw came from black women.

I was disappointed by the lack of sisterhood from celebrity members of the #MeToo movement. The outpouring of support that was present for Christine Blasey Ford during the Justice Brett Kavanaugh trial or the women involved in the Harvey Weinstein allegations was almost nowhere to be found.

Actress Jane Fonda said in a 2017 interview on “All In with Chris Hayes” that the reason so many people care about the Harvey Weinstein incidents is probably because the women involved are mostly white, and black women and other women of color have also experienced sexual assault but without the same attention. I was expecting some of the many artists who have worked with the singer to be a part of the documentary series or show their support to survivors, but Dream Hampton, producer of “Surviving R. Kelly,” said every single musician she asked to join said no except for John Legend.

How 2 Arlington radio stations decided to drop R. Kelly from their playlists

Amid the increasing controversy, artists Chance the Rapper and Lady Gaga released statements regretting their recent work with Kelly. But these allegations against R. Kelly are not new. Rumors about his predatory actions have been around since the 1990s.

Black women are reported as being sexually assaulted at the same rate as white, non-Hispanic women and in some cases more, according to a summary report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Tarana Burke said when she founded #MeToo in 2006, her intention was to connect with black and brown girls, according to a 2017 column she wrote for The Washington Post.

“Ending sexual violence will require every voice from every corner of the world and it will require those whose voices are most often heard to find ways to amplify those voices that often go unheard,” Burke said.

The world we live in doesn’t equally distribute empathy, unfortunately. Going forward, I hope more non-black women of color and white women mobilize against R. Kelly as quickly as they did with Harvey Weinstein and other high-profile predators. Ask yourself why there’s hesitation and push past it so black women and girls know you care. There’s no sisterhood until that happens.



Like our work? Don’t steal it! Share the link or email us for information on how to get permission to use our content.

(14) comments


Where is the outrage? All I see is outrage when I read news articles regarding what he has done.. I've read multiple articles calling for people to stop buying his music and that many radio stations have stated that they were no longer going to play his music. I've read articles calling for another criminal trial.

Who is blind? You are trying to turn this into a race issue. We should be working together and not attacking others for inaction. There has been plenty of action. There could be more, this could potentially end up like the Cosby situation. They have to gather facts and talk to witnesses before they make any moves. I never listened to his music in the first place. The majority of the people that did and still do are probably not the people you are bashing in this article.

If it was up to me he would already be in jail but that is not the country we live in. Let's blame the disgusting individual, the criminal and not the other women that were not blessed with your skin tone..


NEVER refer me as a “Nonblack person of color” ever again. Who do you think you are? Why does it matter if I’m not black? Is this a diary entry or news article?


If you take offense to this, you must not be a POC. I’ve been wondering the same things she’s said as a mixed POC. I don’t see how that’s an insult. The point is disenfranchised people in our history (usually people of color) should support each other. I’m willing to bet none of these people commenting with attacks even watched the show. They just came to attack the author without even understanding the context or her viewpoint. That’s exactly the problem. It’s SO easy to just dismiss this and try to turn it into something it’s not. I didn’t see this on an attack of anyone lighter than brown, I saw this as an acknowledgement of the fact that despite testimony after testimony after testimony all these artists of all shades are still tight-lipped. They know how impactful statements are. Taylor Swift got voter registration numbers to jump with an endorsement. Jay-Z’s probably waiting to make a song to profit off of his mistake of making a joint album with a scumbag. It’s like, where is the more widespread support? What about the other radio stations? None of the music will ever be the same when you realize women were locked in bedrooms peeing in buckets. Where is the outrage? I hear you author. Some people can’t see past the tip of their own noses.


I think its more likely they read and understood exactly the context and just disagreed with these nonsense claims. it is SO easy to just claim that something occurring must be because of race and try and turn it into a race issue when it is not. There is plenty of out rage over this, its everywhere from people of all colors.

There is a lot of this happening these days. A lot of race blaming due to historic disenfranchisement utilizing personal anecdotes and opinions of what is an acceptable amount of outrage and what isn't, but historic bad behavior doesn't justify current bad behavior. And purposefully going of your way to race blame is bad behavior. It is not progressive, it is not the actions of someone who genuinely cares about unity among people, it is not based in reality either. Take this article and reverse the colors and it would be whole heartedly denounced as racist.

True progressivism has yet to come to America, but I am hopeful it will soon.


Hahaha I am a brown Muslim. Thanks for trying to discredit me by accusing me of being white. Liberals always blaming straight white men for any inconvinience. R Kelly is the bad guy here. How did this possibly spin off into a feminist battle against whites? Lol keep doing your thing tho


The outpouring of support for miss ford was completely politically motivated. This "just believe" nonsense is just that, nonsense. There is no other area in our life where we can tell people to "just believe" without providing evidence and people would say "I believe". This entire article is a thinly veiled attack on anyone who isn't black. It never ceases to amaze me just how quickly people bring race into things unnecessarily. I don't believe it is sincere, I think it is simply vindictive.

Reverse the context of this article, and it would be called racist, no doubt. If its racist one way, its racist both ways.

I look forward to a day when true progressivism takes hold of peoples minds and we move past jumping to race as the first go to excuse for essentially every outrage we can find.


Virtue signaling and race blaming is disgusting. This article has no credibility or substance.


Black women have to stop lying to themselves and thinking that their sex is the first thing that white people judge them by. They will always be seen as black before anything else. White women and white soceity in general is only looking for any means to destroy black men; they really don't care about black women. Don't believe me, just ask Sandra Bland.


The overwhelming majority of people regardless of race, political siding, religion, etc don't judge them by their color or sex. They will always been seen as they act, nor is there any significant portion of the US trying to destroy black men.


Of course some people will think you're "blaming others" for not getting involved the way they did in the other cases to continue to comfortably sit in their bias. A perfect example of this is how in the midst of those sexual assault cases Lena Dunham, a known white feminist, chose to support a man who had sexually assaulted a young black woman and dismiss her allegations. Being hit with this constant reminder only tells me that "feminism" just isnt meant for all women, and white women made sure of that since womens sufferage. I tend to go by "intersectional feminist" since inclusivity not a given in most cases.


Feminism just isn't necessary anymore.


Concentrating on the color of peoples skin is where you lost any credibility in this article.


Calif. organizers cancel Women's March for being too white[ohmy]


Not sure if we should be blaming certain races for not participating.. I think everyone rises up to the occasion when needed and plenty of women of all races have spoken out against R. Kelly. There is plenty of white, Hispanic, Asian, ect. women that do their part. There was recently a women's march that was canceled for being "too white". I think your article tarnishes what women of all races are doing to fight these terrible acts.

Calif. organizers cancel Women's March for being too white


Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.