Lilly Moscovitz is underrated as a teen queen.
For much of my life I’ve listened to R Kelly records without question. Even after that infamous sex tape. I kept listening, even though part of me knew I couldn’t be someone who claimed to care about women and girls, yet support his work.
There was this tension. The tension was created by the fact that R Kelly records had woven themselves into the fabric of my life. I can’t remember the first time I heard “Vibe” it’s the type of record most babies born in the late 80’s don’t remember learning, because they’ve always known it. R Kelly’s records are ubiquitous. Infectious. They transport you back to a moment. “I Believe I Can Fly” reminds me of an important period in my childhood when I was starting to ask questions about justice and mercy and why life sometimes doesn’t offer them to us when we need them most. “Ignition” reminds me of Secondary School. “Step In The Name of Love” and “Happy People” are magical records that make me think of family, friends, love, and nights where just the right amount of liquor (and loving) makes things better.
As much as I loved R Kelly records, I had questions. However I pushed them aside. “Focus on the music, not the man” I told myself.
Recently I’ve resolved my cognitive dissonance. Pushed aside my musical tastes and thought carefully about what I choose to support, and critically what I speak out against.
I’ve been reading more about R Kelly’s lawsuits, looked at the mountain of evidence and questioned what our collective acceptance of him says about us as a society. At this juncture I’m forced to conclude it says that we value art above humanity. We will focus on a person’s contributions to the world, rather than defend the people they may have damaged in the process.
This makes me uncomfortable because R Kelly’s victims are the girls no one speaks for. Little brown invisible voiceless girls whose bodies are molested without their consent. Girls who grow into women who watch their predator being deified and exalted because of his music. Girls whose silence can be bought and swept under the proverbial rug. Girls who we really don’t care about. How R Kelly disturbed their bodies and minds doesn’t matter, what matters is that he’s a genius and we love his music.
I choose not to support R Kelly and in this piece for xoJane I articulate why. My question to you is this - what will you do?
Seeing R. Kelly perform at Pitchfork in July was one of the most jubilant, blissful nights of my life. I was with some of my best friends, we all had huge grins on our faces, we participated in an impromptu dance circle and then a soul train with some strangers, and THERE WERE BALLOONS SHAPED LIKE DOVES.
But it was the friends and the smiles and the dancing (OK, and the doves) that mattered, and as the year draws to a close and his new record and his career get written about, I’ve been coming to the same conclusion drawn above: I can’t support this man anymore.
you know when a girl’s profile picture is of her with a guy’s arm around her, but it’s cropped so you can just see her and the arm? that arm always belongs to the same guy. i don’t know how to explain it. that’s the same arm in every picture. many cropped profile pics, one guy, one arm.
Shannon Gibney is a professor of English and African diaspora studies at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC). When thats your job, there are a lot of opportunities to talk about racism, imperialism, capitalism, and history. There are also a lot of opportunities to anger students who would rather not…
The story of a Minneapolis Community and Technical College professor being reprimanded after white students complained about her discussion of structural racism has been picked up by several major news outlets, but I really like the direction Tressie McMillan Cottom took it in for Slate. The higher education context is important: When college is a business, schools have a disincentive to support teaching that makes their mostly-white customers uncomfortable.
I worked at MCTC for six months as an administrative assistant, and I’m dying to know what some of my former colleagues think of this situation. MCTC is a hugely diverse campus in the center of Minneapolis, and while this story obviously has national implications, I’m curious to know what it means for the future of MCTC.
I’m obviously very biased, but I don’t think you have to be from Minneapolis to love Andy Sturdevant’s Potluck Supper with Meeting to Follow.
Most interesting fact from the Spotify Year in Review: 20 percent of all tracks on Spotify have never been listened to, not once! After sharing that, they link to this playlist of 100 “undiscovered” tracks. Challenge accepted?
(My most-listened-to song this year was "Dance Apocalyptic.")
"May the cookies be ever in your flavor."
Thanks to C. and E. for sending me this!
Maybe you could use the Sesame Street Hunger Games in your life this morning.
I listened to several episodes of Pete Holmes’ podcast, “You Made It Weird,” while driving through Wisconsin and walking around my/my parents’ neighborhood in Illinois this past weekend. In each episode he interviews someone, usually an up-and-coming comedian, about “comedy, sex, God,” and the episodes are long, two hours-plus.
When Pete interviewed Casey Wilson, they talked about bars and parties being too loud, and how at parties you can often have interactions that aren’t quite clicking or end up not seeing much of the people you really want to see, and how a gathering of six people is ideal.
When he interviewed Aziz Ansari, Aziz said that listening to podcasts is weird for him because so many people he knows have one, and often it ends up being him listening to two of his friends having a conversation. They discussed the fact that even though Pete and Aziz know each other socially, they would never sit down and have an honest, hours-long, distraction-free and to an extent intentionally deep conversation without the excuse of a podcast.
When he interviewed Paul F. Tompkins, they talked about the anxiety and annoyance of big parties and bars. Pete said his ideal gathering is a group of close friends around a big table, maybe playing music and sharing stories, and Paul F. Tompkins talked about meeting his wife through a tradition of weekly Sunday evening gatherings that were like that.
I’ve been feeling a strong desire for these intimate, laughter- and honesty-filled social gatherings. Also while driving through Wisconsin, I caught some Christmas music on the radio and was sort of fantasizing about singing classic songs with friends around a piano. A few weeks ago I came upon some coworkers having a Beatles sing-along in the break room after most people had gone home for the day, just belting “Something” happily, and I remembered how fun unabashed singing with friends can be. I watched a video someone from my high school posted on Facebook a while ago where he raised a glass at a party he was hosting and gave a heartfelt toast about appreciating the people closest to us. A few years ago, that might have seemed silly or too self-serious, or more likely to have an ironic tone. But now it seems nice. Pleasingly mature.
And of course I still like being young and going out. It’s just that I’ve been craving sincerity in my friendships lately, not because it’s not there but because it’s really genuinely starting to be, and I’ve so enjoyed small parties and one-on-one conversations lately—but I’m shy, and not as forthcoming as I should be with what’s on my mind, and I don’t quite know how to host a gathering yet. I’m looking forward, though, to friendships deepening and enduring. And I think I really will find a way to sing Christmas songs with friends this year.