Allegations of sexual misconduct, from sexual assault to sex trafficking, have been levied against R. Kelly and Harvey Weinstein. The expanded reach of #MeToo movement has increased public support for justice, accountability, restitution involving such men who have wielded tremendous influence.
It is easy to decry the actions of some distant person, whether a celebrity or a random person on the local news, for their alleged criminal behavior.
After all, the personal risk for calling attention to the ills of these behaviors are not as high as challenging the ones of people in our immediate circles.
Because many of us are neither intimately involved or related to them, men like Harvey Weinstein and R.Kelly occupy a place in public discourse as mere abstractions that we can boldly point to, as we deliver our en vogue social commentary.
The distance created by celebrity makes it easy for masses to discuss their lives like objects and subjects—things and topics.
This social distance is the launching point for my post.
The span of influence of celebrities or people with massive influence does not lessen the importance of accountability within our immediate sociocultural sphere. That is, are you aware of any R. Kelly or Harvey Weinstein in your family? Are there potential ones coming of age in your family?
What About Your Family?
We have the opportunity to live more intentionally in creating a world where we live out of a sense of peace and wholeness within our souls.
On at least a weekly basis, I tend to come across a social media post with a cautionary tale about men behaving badly. Typically, the springboard for the person’s message is a news article about a man who sexually or physically abused or assaulted a woman or child.
These public challenges are necessary to disrupt the prevalent culture of silence about these issues.
They help elevate the ways we are constructing the world.
Likewise, there might be people within our more immediate circles who could use the same support and challenge.
What about the people in our families?
What about the people like your grandfather, brother, husband, son, nephew, uncle, cousin, or father?
Is there a Robert Kelly or Harvey Weinstein in your family?
Is there a Roberta Kelly or Hannah Weinstein in your family?
Who are the ones in the family that are spoken about in hushed tones?
Who are the ones you were taught to keep their secrets?
Who are the ones you know to avoid being alone with and encourage your children to do the same?
Or, are you the one who continues to be a passive bystander, choosing to live in denial?
Are you scared to rock the boat?
Are you minimizing behaviors to maintain social approval?
Are you a gatekeeper and try to shame anyone who speaks up in your family?
Are you the one helping to enable the very toxic behaviors at home that you criticize in celebrities?
As a matter of fact, did you know that every time you ignore or minimize disturbing behaviors, you are encouraging them?
How can you protect the ones who prey on others, and then criticize people you do not know?
Did you know your silence approves of the same behaviors?
Did you know that you have cracks in the foundation of your high-minded principles?
If you can’t say “Amen,” say, “Ouch.”
Do you care about the mental well-being of R. Kelly or Harvey Weinstein?
Do you care about what aspects of their childhood or background influenced their choices?
Most likely, you did not give considerable time to reflecting on their backstory, especially in a way that excuses all allegations. When publicly challenging the wrong-doings of influential men-or any man, most people who call for accountability do not seem care about their life stories or any prior trauma they had experienced, either.
I am asking you the kinds of questions I have asked myself.
You Get the Nancy Pelosi Applause
No longer do I feel thoroughly impressed by mini speeches and long-winded rants about toxic masculinity and misogyny in people of great social distance from us.
While you speak truth to power about random men, you can challenge the behavior of the men and boys in your lives.
While you rail about random women, you can challenge the women and girls in your lives.
Until then, these acts of bravery are worthy of a Nancy Pelosi applause.
Admittedly, Nancy Pelosi’s clapping has been my inner response to you, who challenge celebrities and dare not challenge people in your own lives.
Many of us choose to condone harmful and destructive behavior because our religious, racial, social, class, familial, or community cultural groups give us invisible badges of honor and acceptance for going along with the program.
I encourage more of us to feel less impressed.
Because all of the people who create chaos and havoc in our world are connected to someone, from family, friends, colleagues to community, you and I are just as liable.
I am not sharing hard truths.
I am offering the same kind of medicine I needed to rid myself of this soulish pandemic. I am revealing the balm needed to stop the infection from spreading by good people who remain quiet.
How can I complain about a societal phenomenon, if I think it is perfectly acceptable and useful to ignore the same behaviors if demonstrated by friends, family, people with the same race/ethnicity, or those who share my religion?
Since it has been common to do so, we, the ones who stand by and witness harmful and toxic behaviors, allow bad things to happen.
Closing: Your Talk Comes From Your Walk
To make progress requires more from how we choose to engage our circles of influence. The risks have potentially weightier outcomes because it either hits home or close to it.
When you stick your neck out and stand up for what is good in the world, there is a cost.
You risk being ostracized because you broke the familial, cultural, racial, or societal norms.
You risk becoming estranged because you chose to speak up.
However, whenever you challenge a distant celebrity or person who does harm in the world, you will authentically speak from a place of unshakeable conviction with heightened integrity and deep alignment with your principles.
Your talk will truly comes from your walk in all of your humanness.
Until we stop enabling the predatory and toxic behaviors within our influence, we will continue to have individuals like R. Kelly and Harvey Weinstein where we live, work, play, and worship.
All of us are connected in humanity. Either you are part of the disease that spreading in this world’s body or you will live in contribution to healing and restoring.
Burn the bridge, fashion it into a torch, and lead yourself to a better place.
There are billions of people awaiting you.