The charge to #MuteRKelly rages on even now as he sits behind bars and awaits trial. The public has spoken and a majority of them want his music to be obliterated from hearts, minds, souls, and history altogether. One of the co-founders of the movement, however, is being accused of taking her efforts a bit too far.
Kenyette Tisha Barnes, a Georgia activist, is one of the co-founders of the #MuteRKelly movement. Their purpose is to make sure that R. Kelly suffers financially by having the public cease streaming his music while they encourage radio stations to think twice about playing his music.
According to Barnes, the efforts of the movement surpass just that of Kelly. “This is not about R. Kelly, this is about an unspoken reality of s*xual violence in our community,” she said, according to ABC7. Barnes, along with the other co-founder Oronike Odeleye, have been responsible for the hashtag’s awareness and their efforts have indeed proven to work. They’ve been praised by many, including the Washington Post for leading the charge as Black women to make sure that change is imminent.
Like many, Barnes was an admitted R. Kelly fan who would perhaps “move her body like a snake” or “Step In The Name Of Love” when his music came on, or sing word for word to his hits such as “Your Body’s Calling”, “I Believe I Can Fly”, and “Bump N’ Grind”. On why she can’t bring herself to listen to Kelly’s music anymore in good conscience, Barnes tells the Atlanta-Journal Constitution: “It was disgusting to me. We were so comfortable in our social apathy. People put the onus on the girls and not the adult. People made jokes about it or no one spoke about it at all. He was just untouchable. He had an incredible position of power in the entertainment industry.”
Barnes and her partner would eventually get the attention of social media, the media, and celebrities who soon began to share and make the hashtag trend exponentially. “By the time we were done, in 15 months, we had 12 chapters of Mute R. Kelly, we had cancelled 13 concerts and we took an estimated 2.5 million dollars out of [R. Kelly’s] pocket,” she said while speaking at an event at the University of Akron.
Their efforts to get his music, which has been dominating radio airwaves for decades, to be pulled wasn’t the easiest, but over time it’s began to succeed. “We are having the most difficult time with satellite radio,” Barnes said. “A lot of the local radio stations, however, have stopped playing the music. It’s little by little.”
While the efforts of the movement have been effective, there are clearly some places that still support the troubled singer. Barnes noticed it while dining at a local Applebee’s that started playing R. Kelly over the speakers. Barnes took to her Twitter to blast the restaurant while alerting her followers that she refused to pay for her meal.
“Tonight I was forced to listen to R. Kelly, on repeat at [Applebees], in Atlanta. I asked to not be forced to listen to a sexual predator,” Barnes tweeted. “I refused to pay. THE [MANAGER] CALLED THE POLICE AND THREATENED TO HAVE ME ARRESTED. The BW staff was dancing. We have a SERIOUS problem here!”
That we are more comfortable marginalizing the sexual violence against black girls is reprehensible. No wonder 60% of blk girls are sexually abused. Enablers and predators.— Kenyette Tisha Barnes (@LegisEmpress) August 26, 2019
Although she says she refused to pay the establishment for her meal due to their playing of the singer’s music, she says she still gave gratuity to the server. “And despite the horrific treatment of the manager, and other staff, my server was a sweetheart, and I tipped her >18.5%. I am a proponent a Fair Labor, yet, not going to pay an establishment who disrespected me.”
And despite the horrific treatment of the manager, and other staff, my server was a sweetheart, and I tipped her >18.5%. I am a proponent a Fair Labor, yet, not going to pay an establishment who disrespected me.— Kenyette Tisha Barnes (@LegisEmpress) August 26, 2019
Her message got into the hands of Applebee’s, who in turn reached out to Barnes in the attempt to rectify the situation. “Kenyette, we always want guests to feel comfortable at their neighborhood Applebee’s,” tweeted the restaurant in response to her. “We connected with the local franchisee who confirmed that they’ve been in contact with you.”
Kenyette, we always want guests to feel comfortable at their neighborhood Applebee’s. We connected with the local franchisee who confirmed that they’ve been in contact with you.— Applebee’s Grill + Bar (@Applebees) August 27, 2019
Twitter, however, was surprised that the restaurant responded as many felt as though she was in the wrong and was trying to scam them. “No need folks. This one just wanted a free meal. Nothing here to see,” commented one user, and another simply wrote that “She’s trying to scam you guys.”
One user who seemingly had information on Barnes wrote of an alleged account where the activist tried to pull that same thing while trying to purchase a vehicle. “Don’t do it. She did the same thing at a car lot when she was test driving a car and the radio was playing rkelly and she demanded to get the car for free. Don’t do it!!,” she writes in reply to Applebees.
Barnes later appeared on a radio interview with #JusticeFighterRadio on Hits 92.3 where she further explained the situation that happened at the restaurant. In the interview, she explains that she felt as though they purposely played the music on repeat. Check out the full interview below.