[Editor's note: I'm not a trained therapist nor a psychologist. What I have written is strictly my opinion and my armchair diagnosis. Please do not interpret this as sound medical advice. JLL]
On Sunday our church did the cardboard testimonies that have become somewhat popular in the emergent church. This is where persons write what they have endured, what they have overcome from personal battles with physical sickness, to death, to drug and alcohol addictions on one side, and then they flip them over to say what their current status is; what used to be a prayer concern into a praise report. Out of the approximately 20 or so individuals who got up on this past Sunday, perhaps two persons mentioned sexual abuse on one side of their cardboard sign, and it got me to thinking, just how many people have truly been abused.
We live in a society where we’re bombarded with everything and all the time. For many of us the only time we have to turn everything off is when we’re sleep. As participants of Western culture we’ve become quite lax in our ability to deal with serious issues in our day to day lives; I don’t necessarily blame the private citizen no more than I blame some faceless government. It’s just that at the end of the day marginalized segments of our communities are systematically having their voice being taken away from them and the rest of us are still mesmerized by the “rockets red glare” and “the bombs bursting in air” to realize what’s happening under our very noises.
As I write this post one day after World AIDS Day, when we pause to acknowledge the horrors of HIV/AIDS here in our country and how it has ravaged sub-Saharan Africa; after persons have placed red ribbons in their Twitter and Facebook profile pages; after individuals have changed their status updates and tweets, the question is what have we really done? Have we done something tangible like actually go get tested or has it been something unseen like having a change of mind about the whole HIV/AIDS situation.
Or have we been unaffected by it?
I think far too often, far too many of us fall into this latter category, not just with HIV/AIDS but with many things. Such is the case for this blog post when it comes to sexual abuse of children and teenagers.
It came out a few years ago that the former manager, Chris Stokes, of the now defunct early 2000s boy band B2K had molested members of B2K, specifically Raz-B. Raz-B, who’s name is De’Mario Thornton, came forward with the allegations in 2007, then suddenly recanted them shortly after. The recanting raised suspicion that perhaps Chris Stokes had paid Raz off in order to keep him quiet about the whole situation. Fast forward to 2010, suddenly the public has gotten treated to Raz-B making the outlets of social media vis a vis YouTube and the wretched WorldStarHipHop, his personal therapy session. Check out the following clips below, none of which are safe for work (NSFW):
The first three clips are in no particular order, but the last one was a clip I came across as I was preparing for this post, and was uploaded December 1st.
As it stands right now, through these series of videos, Thornton is alleging sexual molestation and abuse at the hands of Marques Houston and Chris Stokes. Combined with his initial 2007 allegation, Thornton is also saying that he was not the only person that suffered abuse.
Naturally, in the heteronormative world that is the music industry the concept of homosexual acts being made public would not only cause a firestorm in the entertainment media world, but it would also force us as a consumerist public how would we handle a now openly gay superstar. Gossip blogs have long since rumored about the lengths gone to cover up gay affairs amongst celebrities from actors, to singers and even athletes. The gossip business has metastasized in the the Information Age, where no long do you have to wait for a tabloid rag to publish it, but one need only type in T-M-Z-dot-com to get a scoop–the veracity of which has no bearing.
When Raz-B made his appearance at a pride festival and made an appearance on “Noah’s Arc” everyone was quick to question his sexuality. Even still now, as a society we have yet to fully grasp the concepts of sex and sexuality and understanding that there really is a difference. For many people it’s clear cut: you mess with the same sex, one is automatically gay and the concept of being bisexual isn’t entertained. And also, many people don’t like the “labels” that society place on them. Whereas they may identify themselves as bisexual, society may just slap the title gay on them and move forward.
I’m not writing this blog post to speculate about Thornton’s sexuality, but I do want to address, from my perspective just how sex and sexuality gets so tragically misinformed because of sexual abuse.
Assuming the allegations are true (and that this isn’t some grand publicity stunt), Thornton’s concept of sexuality is certainly going to be challenged. This is not to say that automatically because he was molested by men that he’s automatically gay (no that’s bad logic and those two events are mutually exclusive unless otherwise proven based on the individual), but that how he views how sex works in tandem with positive views of how to handle one’s sexuality will definitely need to be addressed.
A warped understanding of sexuality can certainly compound itself and manifest itself in later in unhealthy ways: the abused can become an abuser. They abuse the young children around them, they mistreat the ones they’re in a relationship with, may even commit rape. Even benign neglect can occur when they see the signs of abuse happening in the lives of someone else, they turn a blind eye simply because they have projected their own hurt onto someone else, and they are unable to cope with it.
A personal question I have, and a very serious one, at what age, regardless of what some state law deems, does one really have consensual sex? I ask that question seriously because many of my readers and persons I am friends with lost their virginity knowingly at the ages of 12, 13, and 14. Oddly enough, 12 months difference at 15, 16 and 17 respectively are relatively common enough ages that persons have knowingly engaged in sex. For them their journey with their sexuality had begun probably even before the actual act of sex as with most kids when we hit puberty and adolescence.
While I’m not trying to label Raz B as anything, I do question just how non-consensual these sexual acts were. In this case, as it has been presented to us, particularly as he went into detail about his encounter with Marques Houston, who is a peer of his, that question popped up into my head. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t take much for this to be non-consensual. But just as much as this may have been forced, it may not have been.
However, it is a problem that a fully grown adult, Chris Stokes, is alleged to have a part in this which ultimately collapses my whole theory. But, since this was a post about sex and sexuality, I felt it key to dissect some of that dynamic. Adults who do anything sexually with a child are just reprehensible in my opinion. When adults do that they can give a kid a complex they have to wrestle with until their old age.
It’s plain to see that Thornton has some serious unresolved issues. Even Ray J in the midst of his probably intoxication asks Thornton why is he putting all of these conversation on YouTube and WorldStarHipHop because these are certainly private moments that he is making public. Raz B is going public and still failing to file a police report before statute of limitations ends on such alleged crimes makes one wonder how serious these allegations truly are. I think Raz B is a poster child for what not to do after being hurt.
Understandably it requires courage that many of us who have not been abused can’t fathom even remotely, to come forward and admit out loud that one has been victimized. That being said, if anyone who has been victimized, going on manic rants like Raz B has done,
secretly taping conversation with persons on speaker phone is not appropriate behavior. From my armchair perspective, Raz B is allowing his hurt to manifest itself in an attempt to hurt other people.
Not to mention, I think he’s doing a damn good job of sensationalizing sexual abuse.
The sensationalism is occurring in much the same way that the public was pulled into the domestic abuse situation with Juanita Bynum (the first, I suppose) in 2007 and certainly the way the country was treated to the allegations of sexual misconduct with Bishop Eddie Long just a few months ago. When one feels the need to act manic on the phone with an alleged abuser, or even go into detail about a mole on a certain testicle of the abuser and be eerily cavalier about the whole conversation left me in a daze. Honestly, I watched the clip and I heard him, and what other reports say to be a relatively unknown singer by the name of Quindon Tarver, and hear them share these stories with salacious and intricate details, my mouth literally dropped as I tried to process what was going through Raz B’s mind as he felt comfortable enough to film this and then post it. It seems like Raz B is on a personal mission, with a vendetta (rightly so I guess) to just malign Chris Stokes and Marques Houston.
And I want to know who was behind the camera in a few of these clips.
Nevertheless, it sickens me that there are adults out here who take advantage of little kids for their own twisted and personal gain. It equally sickens me when adults see peer-to-peer abuse, or an older brother molesting a younger cousin and the adults see the signs and refuse to acknowledge it. Stemming from the “children are to be seen, not heard” approach to parenting has led to formerly voiceless children growing into adults and perpetuating the the same cycle of silence that has opened the door for other youth and young adults to be both victims and victimizers. Both can grow up to have unhealthy approaches to sex and sexuality that go unaddressed for their whole lives.
We have to stop this cycle of sexual terrorism and violence in our own families. Let’s listen to our children and love our children. It’s not okay for our single mothers to leave their children with Ray-Ray and Je’Marcus all day or all night because you had a function to go to. It’s not okay for parents of celebrity kids to essentially pimp off their children to Hollywood just so they can live a life they always wanted to.
It’s not okay. And we need to remain uncomfortable with it until times get better.
Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL