R. Kelly documentary sparks conversation among women of color

The explosive "Surviving R. Kelly" documentary has triggered old wounds and conversations about sexual assault among women of color in the Triangle.

Omisade Burney-Scott and Nia Wilson, of Spirit House, a group supporting survivors, said the film elevated the voices of black accusers. They said black victims stories are often overlooked, shamed, or disbelieved, sometimes from the black community.

"If we're having a social conversation with our friends, the vast majority of the women sitting at the table would be able to say that they have experienced sexual assault or sexual violence no matter their age," said Burney-Scott.

"Women are not believed but black women especially are not believed," said Wilson. "They are not seen as valuable as a human."

"There's this normalizing of violence against women and if you're not human, if people believe you don't experience pain, or if people have overly sexualized you, or made you into a hyper sexual trope, then when you tell someone that you've experienced something, then they immediately they're like oh that's easy to disbelieve," said Burney-Scott.

Since the allegations resurfaced, Radio One stations in the Triangle like K.97.5 and Foxy 104 have pulled R. Kelly's songs off-air.

According to a BDS industry report, none of R. Kelly's hits are airing on adult contemporary stations nationwide.

Still, Burney-Scott and Wilson said some people still support him.

"As a survivor, that is very traumatizing," said Wilson, who is still dealing with being sexually assaulted more than 30 years ago. "To hear that- not to say that they don't believe it-but that they see it as an assault on black manhood, and that it's almost justifying the assault on black women."

"The conversation is much larger than, 'why do you continue to support him.' It's more, 'why do you think this is normal? Why do you think this would be acceptable?'" said Wilson.

Spirit House hopes the documentary will begin to normalize accountability toward the accused, and for more survivors to be believed.

R. Kelly denies all claims of sexual misconduct against him.
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