While promoting their new film, What Men Want, Taraji P. Henson and Erykah Badu spoke out about the backlash they received for social media posts and statements that gave the impression that they were trying to drudge up sympathy for accused pedophile and abuser R. Kelly.
If you’ll recall, Henson shared a clip in her IG stories recently of her searching for #MuteHarveyWeinstein online, the hashtag echoing the popular #MuteRKelly one. She showed that the results for Weinstein were few and far between, as if to say that while people are going after Kelly heavily following Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly, they seemingly forgot about Weinstein. And as for Badu, she was booed during a performance in Chicago after saying she was going to pray for him and asking, “What if one of the people who was assaulted by R Kelly becomes an offender? We gonna crucify them too?”
But according to both women, people were very much confused about what they were trying to say.
“I actually was just making an observation. I never tried to say anything. I was making an observation,” Henson said in an interview with the Associated Press.
“People know what side I’m on. Why would I launch a foundation for mental health in the African-American community, for people to go somewhere and talk to someone about traumatic experiences, and then side with a predator? Does that make any sense? So that backlash pretty much came from people who, they want to see me fail anyway, because there’s no way if you follow my career, you got that confused.”
When asked if she was surprised by the heat she had been taking, the 48-year-old star said in a way she was, but not really.
“Sorta kinda. You know, humans are fickle,” Henson said. “It’s a really weird time where anything you say or do can be taken totally out of context.”
As for Badu, the 47-year-old made it clear that she said what she said, even if people couldn’t fathom it.
“There’s no deep meaning to it. Unconditional love is love. Love is love,” she said.
“And I didn’t just pray for R. Kelly. I said I wanted to send energy out to everybody involved, anybody that’s hurting as a result of being hurt is what I said,” she added. “And I just thought it was weird that people thought that that was weird. How is that weird that I want love for people?”
And when co-star Tamala Jones defended her and said that she didn’t take from Badu’s statements that she was supporting Kelly, the singer responded, “Supporting? What does that mean? That I support his bad choices? I don’t know him. I don’t know who he is.”
“It’s just my default setting,” Badu added of her love everybody stance. “Social media’s default setting is to attack.”