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#BackChannel: Mute R. Kelly, ‘This Is America,’ And Being A ‘Professional Black Girl’

A Texas woman filed a lawsuit Monday accusing R.Kelly of sexual battery and knowingly infecting her with herpes. This is the latest in a decades-long string of allegations against the R&B artist that detail an array of misconduct, including his repeatedly holding women against their will in a “sex cult.” Hollywood leaders recently renewed the #MuteRKelly movement to demand that companies who profit from his music cut ties.

The fact that [R. Kelly] has remained so untouched says so much more about how we view the lives of black women and girls than it does about R. Kelly.- Mark Anthony Neal

Host Frank Stasio talks with popular culture experts Mark Anthony Neal and Natalie Bullock Brown about the fate of R. Kelly in this episode of #BackChannel, The State of Things’ recurring series connecting culture and context. Neal and Bullock Brown also discuss how coffee shop Joe Van Gogh cut ties with Duke University amid tension over a university vice president’s complaint about rap music.

Plus, they examine Childish Gambino’s smash hit “This Is America” and Janelle Monáe’s new album “Dirty Computer,” which critics hail as an album in which Monáe is unabashedly herself. They also talk about a new divorce plotline in the ABC sitcom “Blackish” that positions marital issues as part of a working relationship, and they review the new Netflix docuseries “Bobby Kennedy for President” that chronicles Robert F. Kennedy’s political career.

I think the [Janelle Monae album] is heavily influenced by Prince. There are songs where I'm trying to match it with an old 90s Prince song. But half the album seems to be Monae being uniquely herself.- Natalie Bullock Brown

Childish Gambino's "This is America"

I came to realize just how important it was to nuance the language around 'professional' for black women and girls. - Yaba Blay

North Carolina Central University professor Yaba Blay joins the conversation to preview the second season of “Professional Black Girl,” her short form video series profiling women who unapologetically embody black girl culture.Blay is the Dan Blue endowed chair in political science at NCCU. Natalie Bullock Brown a is filmmaker and adjunct professor, and Mark Anthony Neal is the chair of the department of African and African American studies at Duke University in Durham.


Professional Black Girl Season 2 Trailer






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Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.