Tressie McMillan Cottom Brilliantly Breaks Down Why People Don't Believe R. Kelly's Accusers

Illustration for article titled Tressie McMillan Cottom Brilliantly Breaks Down Why People Dont Believe R. Kellys Accusers
Screenshot: Comedy Central

When people are confronted with the breadth of the allegations against R. Kelly, the next question is almost always: Why have people ignored these stories for so long? And while there are many theories as to why Kelly still has a career as an artist, the biggest reason as to why he hasn’t faced consequences is because of the media and the public’s perception of his young, black accusers.


Professor and author Tressie McMillan Cottom went on The Daily Show earlier this week and brilliantly broke down the stereotypes that black girls carry and how these perceptions have kept people from believing Kelly’s accusers.

“We are comfortable with black girls always being perceived as responsible for people’s desire for them,” she said. “When people desire children in other contexts, we say that person has an issue. When the object is black girls, we say that other people’s desire for us is our personal responsibility.”


Cottom added, “I think what we owe black girls... is to give them the agency that allows them to be black girls. And that is to say, ‘I am not responsible for how people perceive me.’”

Watch the full clip below.

Pop Culture Reporter, Jezebel

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


I think part of why she is so clear and powerful on this stuff is because it’s so personal. One of the stories in her book is about how she miscarried and lost a baby because people at the hospital didn’t believe her when she told them that she felt something was wrong and needed an exam. They made her sit in a waiting room for hours while she bled completely through the cushion of the chair.