Do you still believe you can fly?
Sometimes technology seems like it has a mind of its own. While getting dressed last week, I started hearing music in the room. I searched around to figure out the source only to discover my phone was playing a song that I had in my library.
That’s not news. Maybe I hit a button accidentally. What was interesting was the song that was playing — “I believe I can fly.” The person singing it was Yolanda Adams, gospel artist, but the original writer and singer of the song is Robert Kelly (R. Kelly). I felt a bit conflicted in that moment as I began instinctively singing along to it.
For those who may not know R. Kelly, superstar singer, songwriter and producer, was recently in the headlines for being accused of running a sex cult with young (not underage), impressionable young women. The allegations in the buzzfeed article are sickening to put it mildly.
This is not the first time the finger has been pointed at Kelly for deviant sexual behavior. He has faced multiple charges of sex with minors and taking advantage of young women. Last week’s story is consistent with what we have heard about him in the past.
Which brings me to my smarter than it should be phone. I was conflicted as the song played. Should I enjoy the song and separate the man from the music or should I shut it off because to enjoy his art is to embrace the artist.
Maybe those are two extremes that people have found themselves on with controversial figures. Some are blindly loyal, even excusing the inexcusable for their favorites be they actors, sports stars, musicians or even religious leaders. In their eyes because someone is gifted and talented, they can do no wrong. These fans will attack victims, chase conspiracy stories and then minimize the misdeeds of their hero.
On the other hand, some throw the baby, the bath water and the bath tub out all together. They look at all the art the artist ever created as tainted and think to even look at it is to support the fallen acts. That’s why the Cosby show is no longer on television. And it’s why so many have such distrust and detachment from all preachers, ministers and spiritual leaders.
I wonder what is the right way to handle it. Can I still “Believe I can fly,” and yet still condemn R. Kelly, never buy any of his music again and stand up for the rights of women? Can I separate Dr. Huxtable from Bill Cosby and teach my children good wholesome family values from the show? Can I hold on to the lessons of a spiritual leader even after finding out that leader wasn’t always living up to them?
Conversely is the way to handle this and make it stop to shut these artists or leaders off? Should we not only cut off future support but wipe their memory off of the landscape of society?
I would love to hear your feedback on this. Do you still believe you can fly?