Imagine being silenced and shamed for years after trying to tell your truth about an abusive and prominent celebrity, then finally being able to broadcast that truth, only for it to be cut short via a cowardly threat.
That is what happened to R. Kelly accusers Kitti Jones, Jerhonda Pace, Lisa Van Allen, Asante McGee, and Lizzette Martinez on Tuesday night, when a special screening of Lifetime’s upcoming documentary Surviving R. Kelly screeched to an abrupt halt following an alarming gun threat. Activists and cultural notables such as Tarana Burke, Jamilah Lemieux, Kierna Mayo, and Feminista Jones were also at the event.
With the documentary, due out in January and executive produced by Dream Hampton, Tamara Simmons, Joel Karlsberg, and Jesse Daniels for Kreativ Inc., the survivors of the R&B artist eerily known as the “Pied Piper” are finally given an empowered voice to tell their own stories and shine a light on his highly disturbing patterns, from 1970 to present day.
R. Kelly’s ex-wife Drea Kelly spoke to Rolling Stone about Tuesday night’s threat and how she believes it will only serve to empower her and other black women who are fighting the good fight.
“At the end of the day, though, it makes me smile because that lets me know we’re on the right track,” noted Drea, who attended the screening. “We’re causing people to listen. We’re getting people’s attention and we’re getting attention from the one who thought that he was invincible and untouchable. And that also applies to the people that work for him and the people that are around him.”
“What people don’t understand is that we are a fire that is burning and it’s never going to go out,” said Drea. “They thought they were putting us out; they just put gasoline on a fire and now we’re just gonna burn longer and stronger. You actually helped us when it was meant to harm us [because] this did nothing but unite us even more.”
As Drea noted, “this [threatening incident] is not a stop, this is a pause.” You’re the one that’s muted, R. Kelly, not the women. The fire behind the fight continues to burn.
The six-part series will begin its three-night broadcast event on Lifetime Thursday, January 3 at 9pm ET/PT.