Meet Oronike Odeleye, the co-founder of the #MuteRKelly Campaign
The Nigerian-born American co-founded the initiative to stop the alleged predatory tendencies of the music veteran, R. Kelly.
In 2017, reports were rife about the grooming of a 14-year old member of a sex cult by singer, R. Kelly.
After Faith Rodgers came up in May, 2018 to accuse R. Kelly of sexual battery and filed a New York suit, the BBC and Vox published a history of sexual allegations against the 'I Believe I Can Fly' singer, dating back to his annulled 1994 marriage to late singer, Aaliyah when she was 25 and she was 15.
The cumulative effect of R. Kelly’s history of consistent sexual misconduct allegations birthed the #MuteRkelly movement by Oronike Odeleye and Kenyette Barnes.
Oronike Iyabo Odeleye was born on December 6, 1979. She previously lived in Syracuse, New York, attended Syracuse University, New York and now resides in Atlanta, Georgia.
She has experience in Arts Administration, Project Management, Marketing and Social Media and currently serves clients in arts, culture and entertainment clients. She works different jobs for a number of companies including, OneMusic Fest ad Festival Coordinator and serves as a Board member for BURNAWAY Magazine.
On Why She Formed #MuteRKelly
#MuteRKelly was founded in July 2017 after Atlanta Arts Administrator, Oronike heard that the singer was booked to perform at a Fulton County owned facility in Atlanta. The news angered her and she felt she had enough and that “Someone had to stand up for Black women, and if I wasn’t willing to do my part — no matter how small — then I couldn’t continue to complain. It’s time for us to end this man’s career. Enough is beyond enough”
She continues, “As a local government owned venue, we were upset that Fulton County would let a well-documented sex offender profit from our tax dollars and expanded the petition to include demands that the concert be cancelled. Kenyette coined the hashtag #MuteRKelly, and a nationwide movement was born.”
On her motivation, the 38-year old told The Grio that, “I have been hearing about R. Kelly’s sexual abuse of young black women since I was in my teens. Every few years more women come out with their stories. More images and videos surface. More black girls are scarred for life just as they are coming into their womanhood and sexuality,”
The singer’s extreme sexual acts is also extra motivation. The freelance art administrator says, “I remember later when the tape [which showed the singer engaged in — including urination — with a girl prosecutors believed to be as young as 13] that made the allegations of his sexual abuse a national story”
What is #MuteRKelly?
This is simply an activist movement to stop celebrating of Robert Kelly’s music as not to deflect attention from his history of sexual impropriety allegations. In other words, the movement purports to treat R. Kelly and his music as one entity; trash.
As she told Vice,#MuteRKelly is quasi-justice since courts will not convict the singer. Shortly after creating the movement, she started an online petition for radio stations to stop playing R. Kelly’s music. Another movement called “ThumbItDown” was launched for platforms like Apple Music, Tidal and Spotify to stop playing R. Kelly’s music.
In her article for Glamour, she says, “I felt like we all knew enough to do that, whether or not he’d been convicted. To me it was like, “How about we just all decide this man doesn’t get our dollars. I’m not going to give it to him.”
About a week after she took her earliest steps into what became #MuteRKelly, she met political strategist and lobbyist, Kenyette Barnes, a survivor of sexual assault herself. Kenyette helped create the now viral #MuteRKelly hashtag.
The benefit of the #MuteRKelly campaign
The idea is simple; liberation. Oronike admitted her relative inexperience in an interview with Vice. She says, “I’m simply someone who saw something that was wrong within my community, and I set out to change it. I hope others see this too, and realize that change doesn’t have to come from the top down — everyone can make a difference.”
Writing for Glamour, Oronike says, “I’m not an activist. I’m not a politician. I’m not a lawyer. But I just felt like I had to take action.”
The movement is strictly altruistic. Since it started, the movement has protests at five R. Kelly concerts, but were unfortunately unable to stop them. They have however been able to get 10 concerts cancelled as at May, 2018.
On April 30, 2018, MuteRKelly made even greater strides as when Time’ s Up, the $2million post-Weinstein movement against sexual harassment issued an open letter to everyone associated with R. Kelly’s music to stop promoting them. This call was made to platforms like Apple Music and Spotify, and endorsed by John Legend.
In the final weeks of April, 2018, Time’s Up’s subcommittee for women of colour reached out to #MuteRKelly for partnership and support.
The subcommittee at Time’s Up counts heavyweights like Ava DuVernay and Shonda Rhimes as members released a statement thatThe recent court decision againstis one step toward addressing these ills, but it is just a start. We call on people everywhere to join with us to insist on a world in which women of all kinds can pursue their dreams free from sexual assault, abuse, and predatory behavior. To this end, today we join an existing online campaign called ”
The dream for Oronike would be to transcend the entire pool of sexual impropriety, transcending R. Kelly.
The aim for now is to make R. Kelly a pariah in the industry.
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