Tags: The | Aftermath | the | CBC | Weekend

The Aftermath of the CBC Weekend

Monday, 20 September 2004 12:00 AM

Later I attended Congressman Chaka Fattah’s (D-PA) forum on how the transactional tax would spur the economy. But the undisputed highlight was the following morning’s prayer breakfast featuring Pastor Thomas from Baltimore and gospel legend and 13-time Grammy award winner, Shirley Caesar. Pastor Thomas’s deep baritone washed over the audience while Caesar began to sing. In her voice, one hears faith. Members of the audience began to clap their hands and stomp their feet. Some shook, others cried. All 7,000 participants felt the word of God.

So far so good.

Then word began to spread about how the alleged child rapist had sung the night before. Tucked away on the third floor of the D.C. convention center, the CBC wives had gathered for a private show. The event had been billed as “an evening with the Whispers,” a legendary R & B group. But when the lights dimmed, R. Kelley strutted on stage and began singing "Bump N Grind.”

Some of the CBC wives howled and cheered. Others stomped off in protest the moment R Kelley took the stage.

In 2002, R Kelley was charged with 21 counts of child pornography after a video that allegedly depicted him having sex with a 13-year-old girl made the rounds. Shortly thereafter, a Florida sheriff’s detective discovered a digital camera that authorities say depicts Kelly engaging in sexual activity with a minor. The camera was wrapped in a towel and stuffed in a duffel bag in Kelly’s residence. That was good for 12 more counts of child pornography, though Kelly’s lawyers are trying to get the charges dismissed on a count that the authorities were searching specifically for drugs, not child porn (quite a defense, eh).

Apparently, R Kelley had called the CBC wives and begged them to help resuscitate his flagging career. They did him — and by the looks of it, themselves - a favor by throwing him a bone.

Of course, not everyone was so enthused about hiring an alleged child rapist to play at an event dedicated to celebrating positive strides in the black community. “The CBC wives don’t need to lend their credibility to a pedophile,” demanded one angry audience member. Rightly so. The CBC weekend is supposed to be about highlighting progress in the black community. Does R Kelly really fit the bill? Has he presented a positive image of a person of color? Has his behavior shed a positive light on black American culture? Are these the qualities best embodied by our brothers and sisters? Of course not! And therein lays the real problem.

By hiring R Kelley for the CBC weekend, the wives nourished one of the most damaging stereotypes about black leadership — that we’re so busy moralizing about brotherhood, that we cannot find fault with our own —even the child rapists among us.

This stereotype makes the black leadership seem like hypocrites. Since it is generally assumed that the leadership speaks for the people, giving cover to punks like R Kelley makes the black public seem naïve at best, and completely immoral at worst. What’s wrong with the black leadership that they don’t get this? Given that R Kelley is alleged to have raped children, how could the CBC wives invite him to their event? Don’t they understand that giving credibility to an alleged child rapist completely obscures the strong moral current that runs throughout the black community?

Thankfully, the leadership doesn’t always speak for the people. Half the attendees at the CBC weekend concert walked out the moment the alleged child rapist strutted on stage. That unfortunate silence you hear is no one talking about it.


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Later I attended Congressman Chaka Fattah's (D-PA) forum on how the transactional tax would spur the economy. But the undisputed highlight was the following morning's prayer breakfast featuring Pastor Thomas from Baltimore and gospel legend and 13-time Grammy award winner,...
Monday, 20 September 2004 12:00 AM
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