“If the allegations are true….that ain’t cool.”

| December 2, 2017 | Reply

Ever since last October’s allegations of sexual harassment sent the career of Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein into a nosedive, politicians and celebrities alike have witnessed their behaviors—-past and present—- held to higher levels of scorn and scrutiny. Images and ‘receipts’ make it harder for “good ol’ boys” and “business as usual,” because in the social media age, more women are standing up and speaking out. Previous insinuations are now resurfacing against many—-including the ‘Mute R. Kelly’ movement. Yesterday’s show at Dallas Fair Park Music Hall, for example, was targeted by people long disgusted by past and present sexual misconduct allegations against the superstar.

As more performers and policymakers are feeling the heat from their actions, others want to use their public platform for good. One of them is Stokley Williams, a performer best-known to R&B fans as the front man and lead vocalist for the popular MN-based quintet, Mint Condition. Currently on the road to promote his solo debut, Introducing Stokley, and its Top 20 Adult R&B single, “Organic,” the songwriter and multi-instrumentalist spoke recently by phone about the R. Kelly controversy, why artists’ voices matter and what his personal mission is in music:

A lot of high-profile people are seeing consequences for behavior that was once seen as acceptable. What do you think has led to this? 

“Conflict is hot right now and everybody’s feeling some kind of way because everybody is finding out the truth. This goes on all over; I travel a lot and what ails society [here in America] is also happening in every crack of the world. More people are speaking up because the tide is turning. It’s been a ‘man’s world’ for so long, and so many, for the first time, are discovering the voice to speak up and are getting the platform to do it.”

As an entertainer, do you see yourself as a ‘role model’, or should that simply a personal choice?

“We are affecting and infecting people positively or negatively; each thing that we do is affecting people whether we know that or not. Everything we read, eat, listen to and touch……we’re porous in so many different ways. The older you get, the more reflective we get about how we’re affecting future gnerations. That’s just life. It’s growth. And if we don’t learn, then what are we doing here?”

Former fans of R. Kelly protested last night’s concert at Fair Park Music Hall, many of them said that it’s hypocritical to expect Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein to face consequences while Kelly is still supported. Where do you stand on the issue?

“I don’t know about his legal or his personal situation, but I do have a fifteen year old daughter. Just like anyone else with young daughters or sons who are underage, we want people to [have a sense of] what’s appropriate and what’s not. If the allegations against him are true, then no…. I wouldn’t support him either. That ain’t cool.”

Do you believe that artists should be activists too? Or should they just ‘stay in their lane’?

“There may be certain issues that inspire people, but I don’t think activism can be forced. At the same time, I don’t like the hecklers of the world who tell us, ‘well, we don’t want to hear that, just sing or shut up.’ What do you mean ‘shut up’? That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard. Policies affect all of us! My music is my way of healing hearts and souls, tempering the madness out there in the world, but I come from a family of educators; I grew up learning commitment to life’s political activism aspect. There’s a way to word it and there’s a way to do it, but we all have a voice.”


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Category: Culture & Politics, DMN Briefing Columns

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