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We have to remember that this cultural moment is about far more than the despicable things R. Kelly has done, and we cannot allow others to use him or anyone else's more visible forms of misconduct in order to deflect from their own.

This essay contains discussions of r/pe and sexual violence against minors, sexual harassment, and domestic abuse. “Surviving R. Kelly” aired on Lifetime last week, in which women who were preyed on by R. Kelly spoke about the abuse they experienced and witnessed. Several celebrities also made appearances to criticize the singer and his abuses against girls and women. Among them were rapper Joe Budden, radio host Charlamagne Tha God, and music journalist Touré. These three men spoke with conviction about how appalled they were by the details of R. Kelly’s case, and I’m sure they were very convincing to viewers in their admonishment of him despite their own unsavory behavior. Not only has Charlamagne tweeted horrible “jokes” about R. Kelly and statutory rape in the past, but he has also admitted to drugging and date raping a woman and has another rape allegation against him from a woman who says he assaulted her when she was just 15 and he was 22. Joe Budden’s former girlfriend detailed how he physically abused her. Even though the charges were eventually dropped, the rapper did plead guilty to a disorderly conduct charge connected with the incident. Furthermore, graphic photos of his accuser’s bruises around her neck released by TMZ certainly provide evidence of violence. This week, Touré was publicly accused of aggressive sexual harassment by a makeup artist who used to work with him. She spoke up because she saw him in “Surviving R. Kelly” and commented on the irony of him appearing to discuss the singer’s sexual violence after having participated in sexual misconduct himself. She provided screenshots of his apology in a private message to her, which included “Please don't talk badly about me! I'm so ashamed to think of that happening.” Touré issued this response to the public accusation: “On the show, our team, including myself, engaged in edgy, crass banter, that at the time I did not think was offensive for our tight-knit group. I am sorry for my language and for making her feel uncomfortable in any way. As a lead on the show, I should have refrained from this behavior. I have learned and grown from this experience.” Knowing about the allegations against and confessions of Charlamagne and Joe Budden, and now learning about the disgusting behavior of Touré and his shitty apology, seeing them appear in the capacity they did in “Surviving R. Kelly” is dubious, to say the least. This unfortunate juxtaposition has helped me put words to something that has bothered me for over a year now. It starts with Aziz Ansari and the public responses to a woman's account of a "bad date" with the comedian from 2017, in which “Grace” detailed how he made her increasingly uncomfortable with his sexual advances towards her as the night progressed. It was certainly a polarizing moment, with some speaking up to say they had also experienced that kind of treatment on a date and others missing the point by excusing his behavior because they perceived his sexual aggression as normal.
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Thomas Markle exhibited what can only be described as manipulation and emotional abuse under the guise of concern and love.

This op-ed includes mentions of emotional abuse I haven’t spoken to my father in over two years. I sent him one last email detailing why I no longer wanted to be in contact with him, I explained how his decisions and emotional abuse harmed me and told him that I wanted to prioritize my mental health so that I could move forward with my life. It was the best decision I have ever made, and not a single day goes by that I regret what I did. That’s why I was infuriated when I saw Meghan Markle’s father, Thomas Markle, being interviewed by none other than Piers Morgan, a notorious anti-feminist (or men’s rights activist, whatever the fuck that means) and media figure who has obsessively and publicly harassed Meghan since her introduction to the British public. In his interview with Morgan, Thomas Markle exhibited what can only be described as manipulation and emotional abuse under the guise of concern and love. Following his multiple publicity stunts leading up to Meghan’s wedding to Prince Harry, he claims that his daughter cut off all contact with him despite his numerous apologies. His continuous need to center himself and his emotional needs over Meghan’s autonomy and the boundaries she most likely created for her own mental health shows a clear disregard for his daughter’s wellbeing. While it would be easy to disregard this latest display of abuse as an impassioned cry for family unity and love, that superficial and non-contextual conclusion deliberately ignores the fact that Mr. Markle chose to be interviewed by Morgan, a man who has been using every ounce of his whiteness and maleness to act like an abusive ex-boyfriend. A documented transphobic, sexist and racist overpaid bag of termites, Morgan has repeatedly used Meghan Markle to draw attention to himself in the worst ways possible. From questioning her agency and ability to make her own decisions, accusing her of being “fake” and a “social climber”, to alleging that she “ghosted him”, Morgan has shown how toxic whiteness and masculinity is performed without repercussions. It comes as no surprise that Morgan would interview Thomas Markle and amplify his abuse on national British television. It also comes as no surprise that the British press would continue to publicly uplift the opinions of people who have directed their racist and sexist criticisms towards Meghan Markle. https://twitter.com/girlsreallyrule/status/1074666171310460929 After months of racial abuse, including claims that she is breaking musty-ass royal protocols, the optics of two white men on TV badgering Meghan is a stark reminder that women of color in particular will have their agency and boundaries challenged, even by their own fathers. Mr. Markle, who can only be well aware of his daughter’s feminist politics, chose to speak to the man who is the polar opposite of what Meghan stands for and I do not think that his choice was accidental. Both are using their positions in society as white men to earn public sympathy while demonizing a biracial Black woman. And since society grants humanity primarily to white, cisgender men and women, it comes as no surprise that this display of manipulation and publicity garnered sympathy from the public. Thomas Markle’s decision to appear on Morgan’s morning show also amplifies Morgan’s obsession with Markle and the allegations that she ghosted him. These allegations are now being reinforced by her father’s own claims of “ghosting” as a pattern she has engaged in rather than her right to not bestow attention on an abusive parent. While it’s impressive that two old, white men learned about the term ghosting, they have both chosen to ignore that Meghan’s decisions for her mental health and happiness have a right to stand unchallenged. Family unity, unconditional love and family-first rhetoric consistently pushes away the experiences of those who were emotionally or physically abused by their parents or other family members. While Meghan Markle’s relationship to her father is her own, it’s worth parsing through the idea that being a blood relative or a parent does not mean that you are owed a relationship to someone. Family dynamics vary, but they also have similar threads running throughout them. So many of our relationships, familial ones included, emphasize the need for unconditional love and forgiveness which mostly reinforces patriarchal, cisheteronormative oppressions. Unconditional love often acts as an integral part of maintaining harmful social structures within family relationships. No love should be unconditional when it covers up the abuse of vulnerable people who suffer for decades without ever being able to cut off abusive family members. Love shouldn’t be unconditional because it perpetuates the idea that all behaviors and actions are worthy of forgiveness no matter how much harm they inflict upon us. Cutting off toxic family members isn’t a decision that is easy, nor is it made lightly. It’s often a decision that is made after years of undergoing consistent manipulation and harm. It is an informed, healthy and brave decision which requires a lot of strength.
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The “Black man's image” is not, never has been, and never will be more important than the safety of Black women.

This essay contains discussion of sexual violence against minors and child pornography Black men find new ways to tell the world they hate Black women every day. It's hard to talk about this. Not just because it involves talking about how harmful misogynoir is, but because it's dangerous for someone like me to tell the truth about this harm and how prevalent it is. It's dangerous in the same way that it's dangerous for us to tell the truth about white supremacy in public, because there is always the chance that we will be met with reactionary white violence and attempts to silence us, and because the way Black men treat us often feels so similar to how white people treat us. Sometimes, it feels worse. A week ago, a private screening for Lifetime's “Surviving R. Kelly” docuseries was canceled after the the theater received a gun and bomb threat. The theater was filled with survivors and parents of survivors of R. Kelly's sexual and misogynistic violences. “Me Too” founder Tarana Burke was in attendance. As was #OscarsSoWhite originator, April Reign. “There is no question in my mind that this was a deliberate attempt to intimidate R. Kelly survivors and their supporters," Reign stated, and I agree wholeheartedly. In response to the threat and the canceled private screening, Burke said, “[F]rom being a survivor and my work with survivors, I think that it's really hard to get into a consistent healing process when there is always the threat of being re-traumatized. And so that's the worry I have is that people who are trying to put it behind them, trying to move ahead get railroaded in ways like this, you know, it's just detrimental." The writing has been on the wall about R. Kelly for a very long time, and it has taken more than two decades for people to finally start listening to the Black women who have been organizing against him and understand how dangerous he is. Even before his high profile relationship with Aaliyah, marrying her when she was only 15 years old and he was 27, he was a known predator in the Chicago area. From there, he went on to violate multiple underage girls and young women, often promising to help with their music career, with at least two videos with evidence of his statutory rape of Black girls surfacing and a large collection of child pornography being found at his home. Somehow, he always managed to escape accountability and prison time for these things, and this has allowed him to now become the leader of a cult where he keeps young women under his complete control, “dictating what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records.” One former assistant testified that the women around him even have to ask for food and get his permission to go to the bathroom, and if they break his rules, they are punished with physical and verbal assaults.
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