Conversation about R. Kelly and sexual assault on college campuses occurs at workshop

For 25-year-old radiologic technology major Brennan Jackson, it is difficult to “separate the man from the music” when it comes to rhythm and blues singer R. Kelly because Jackson has a little girl in his household.

Jackson was one of several students that participated in the “If R. Kelly, Cardi B and Billy Porter Walked into a Room” workshop in the Knowledgeable, Engaged, and Aspiring Students (KEAS) Program Study Lounge on Tuesday, March 19, at El Camino College.

Amreen Karmali was the guest speaker during the workshop and founder of The Real Talk Project which, “offers professional development, online courses and individual coaching for schools, educators and community members who are invested in creating a culture based on equality, love and thirst for diversity,” according to their website.

Karmali has spoken at EC in the past and was invited to come back by KEAS Program Coordinator Monica Delgado.

Delgado said that Karmali came up with the idea to speak about the topic of gender roles but wanted to incorporate modern and contemporary references to draw the attention of students.

“We wanted to have her back. We do a lot of workshops in here but we rarely have guest speakers,” Delgado said.

Kelly, whose real name is Robert Kelly, has been the topic of discussion ever since he was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse which involved four victims, three of whom were underage, on Feb. 22.

In an interview with CBS News’ Gayle King, Kelly denied any wrongdoing and said that the accusations were an assassination of his character.

During the interview, Kelly’s current girlfriends Jocelyn Savage, 23, and Azriel Clary, 21, denied allegations they were being brainwashed by Kelly, according to CBS News.

“We live in a really f—– up society that needs a lot of work. I think that there’s such a deep ingrained normalization of abuse of women that even women think it’s okay,” Karmali said.


Being a victim of sexual assault can have long-lasting effects and can cause health problems.

On the same women’s website it states, “Women who are sexually assaulted may face health problems that include depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

R. Kelly’s history of legal issues

With a career spanning 30 years, Kelly has found himself entangled in various scandals involving child pornography and sexual abuse.

He infamously married then 15-year-old R&B singer Aaliyah in 1994, according to The Washington Post.

A few years later in June 2002, Kelly was charged with 21 counts of child pornography but was ultimately acquitted six years later.

The Lifetime documentary series ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ which aired in January, brought forward more victims as well as people who have worked with Kelly to detail their experiences, according to The New York Times.

After rumors began surfaced that Kelly was running a sex cult in his residence, #MuteRKelly began trending on Twitter, according to The Washington Post.

Conversations began on whether people should boycott R. Kelly’s music, music which is known to contain sexually explicit lyrics.

“I think any monetary support of R. Kelly is not necessary . . . there’s no reason to support him with my money,” Karmali said.


  • If you feel that you have been the victim of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673.