Why I Wrote “Leaving Neverland”

In retrospect, a wrenching four-hour documentary about child sexual abuse might seem an odd place to start a blog. But the stories I heard were so compelling (and unnerving) that they demanded my attention. I never set out to write 2000 words about this. But I knew that there were people who will never see this film. They need to know these stories.

The stories aren’t 100% accurate. (The train station Safechuck says he was abused at didn’t exist until 1993, though he named at least seven other places that alleged abuse occurred.) But they are so specific — and told in such graphic, queasy detail — that they compelled me to say something. I knew that there were people who would NEVER watch the film. So I wrote about the film for those people. I watched the film — and wrote about it — so that they don’t have to.

But I also wrote it to combat some of the ridiculous (and even victim-blaming) responses to the allegations. People said it was all a lie (as if one could or would sit down for an interview and make up four hours worth of lies). People said they were after money. (If I were molested for years at a time by a wealthy, powerful public figure, I’d want some money, too. If you can’t undo the damage, at least pay me for my pain.) People played the race card (which is what irritates me the most.)

Too many black men are unfairly trapped within the prison-industrial complex. As a result, we in the black community have become overprotective of them. The minute that a prominent black man is accused of a crime (especially rape), too many of us automatically defend him and assume that racism is at work. (See the reactions to R.Kelly, Chris Brown, Adrian Peterson, and the Artist Formerly Known as Cliff Huxtable.) This is infuriating for many reasons — one of which is that the need to defend black men (and their wealth, power or image) is prioritized over the need to protect women and children from abuse, assault, or rape. Just the other day, someone in my class insisted that the

It’s time to stop doing that.

It’s time.

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