Like millions of millenial Black women, I was a STAN for the group B2K back in the early 2000s. B2K was a girl’s dream. They were the imaginary boyfriends we argued with other young girls about. Each member “belonged” to somebody and you better not think otherwise. J Boog was definitely “mine” back in the day.
I remember how heartbroken I was when I heard the news that they had broken up. I felt like my world was crashing down. This was one of the hardest things I had to deal with as a pre-teen. How was my favorite group breaking up with no possible explanation? How was I supposed to grow up without them? I remember in the months to follow, we heard pieces about the break up from J Boog, Raz B, and Lil Fizz collectively and from Omarion and their former manager, Chris Stokes, collectively. Omarion then went on to flourish as a solo artist while we heard very little from the other three until Fizz popped up with Omarion on Love and Hip Hop Hollywood. In between the break up and the current times, Raz B was off in Asia performing and doing other functions.
As you can see, my almost 30-year-old self was ecstatic when my cousin sent me the flyer that B2K was reuniting and going back on tour together. The 12-year-old me came out of my almost 30-year-old self. I instantly texted my best friend DaNae and we decided that we were going together. B2K was the reason we became friends.
Earlier this week, Raz B released a video on Instagram saying that he was off the tour because B2K’s former manager, Chris Stokes, was allegedly at the show or something of the sort. Some years ago, Raz B, released a video saying that Stokes molested him growing up. I know I was still sort of young when I watched the video but I been thought Chris Stokes was a creep anyway. I felt bad for Raz B but like many others, I dismissed it.
When Raz B said that he was off the tour and I heard his reason why, I remembered that video and instantly said “I would have left the tour, too”. Who would want to be around their abuser? But being the comment reader that I shouldn’t be, I went and read of the comments in the ShadeRoom’s comment section when they posted the video of Raz. Many comments were supporting him but others were just rude. Some were saying that they weren’t going to the concert to see him anyway, or laughing at the situation. It was ridiculous.
It’s hard for society to believe that men can experience sexual assault as well. Sexual assault is not just limited to women at the hands of men. It can happen to men by other men. Women by other women. Men by women. It’s doesn’t matter. And the fact that Chris Stokes, like many other predators we’ve witnessed in the entertainment industry (R. Kelly, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby) have somehow skated under the radar for years. We as a community allowed this to happen. We turned a blind eye because they created good content for the culture. Chris Stokes gave the culture B2K. And in that we failed as a people and we failed Raz B.
How would things have been different if the community would have taken Raz’s claims seriously the first time? B2K collectively released a video the next day saying that Raz was staying on the tour and they worked things out privately. I’m curious to know what the conversation was. If Raz B was that scared for his life, I would hope that it wouldn’t have been a question as to whether or not Chris Stokes needed to stay away from the tour. He should be gone, period. Who invited him in the first place? If other members of B2K are still cool with Stokes, why? If they all agree that they will not perform any of their songs written by R Kelly after the tour concludes, why stay in contact with Stokes, who is your group member’s abuser?
Our society stays silent, for the most part, when it comes to young boys, but especially Black boys, being sexually assaulted. We pass it off because of the implicit bias we hold for men. There’s a notion that men are sexual beings and hyper masculinity allows us to think that men should be able to defend themselves. These ideals prevent us from believing that harm can come to them. We don’t know what kind of emotional trauma Raz may had to deal with from his past but for people to still dismiss him today is beyond me. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center 27.8% of men were sexually assaulted at age 10 or younger and about 96% of child abusers are male. I’m not sure how old Raz was when he was molested but these statistics are real. Abuse does happen to our boys and it’s time for us to speak out in support of it.
❤ Queen T