R&B singer R. Kelly is scheduled to play a concert at the Greensboro Coliseum on Friday, May 11. The event is mired in controversy, stemming from a host of sexual misconduct allegations against Kelly, many that stretch back decades.

An entire “Mute R. Kelly” movement has sprung up, in connection with the "Time's Up" and “Me Too” movements, to not only stop his concerts, but to have him dropped from record labels and streaming sites. 

And to some degree, it's working. Spotify just announced that it's pulling the artist from all playlists. And a concert in Chicago, Kelly's hometown, was recently canceled.

When contacted about the controversy, the Greensboro Coliseum said it had no comment.

Local activists will be demonstrating outside the performance. One of those planning to protest is Brandi Collins-Calhoun. She drafted a letter calling for the cancellation of R. Kelly's show, with support from her employer, YWCA Greensboro.

Interview Highlights

On holding venues accountable:

I think it's really important that we hold them highly accountable. Because when you continue to promote the person, it's pretty much saying that you're okay with what they're doing. When you continue to put money into their pockets, money that he's used to fund his sex cults, money that he uses as power to actually abuse these women, that's where the accountability lies. When you can say you need to bring in revenue and support this person, you're supporting their actions.

On the Greensboro Coliseum's lack of response compared to Chicago:

I think a big part of it is just the silence. This isn't the first time that the venue has been asked to be held accountable for hosting certain people and certain events. But I also think they really underestimated the power behind the letter and through the actual movement. I think they assumed that because in Chicago R. Kelly has more of a presence, that it was a stronger expectation.

I don't think they expected us to have people coming in town from Georgia, people coming down from Virginia, from Asheville, and Charlotte to come and support this action. I think they truly underestimated what was going to take place.

You know, to have R. Kelly come into a space is to say, ‘You know what's OK? Sexual abuse is OK. Sexual conditioning is OK. And it's OK when it's happening to young black and brown girls.' Truthfully, if R. Kelly's victims were of a different race, would he be coming to the Greensboro Coliseum?

On the role of black women in the "Me Too" movement:

I think the space of black woman in the "Me Too" movement is similar to black women in any movement. We've led it, and we kind of got pushed to the back. But we're still here, we're still doing the groundwork, we're still doing the heavy lifting. So I think now is the same that it's always been. We're still demanding to be heard.

When white women came forward with the "Me Too" movement, it was tons of sympathy, and tons of demands, and tons of justice being rolled out. Whereas when black women are coming forward, it's nothing. It's silence. So we're looking for people to silence R. Kelly in the same way they've silenced black women and our abuse.

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