Written by Jasmine Osby
A few weeks back, I finished reading Charlamagne the God’s book Black Privilege. And I was blown away.
I had gotten the book for Christmas; a gift my mother intending on grabbing for me after hearing me rant about how moving and influential Charlamagne was every morning on his show The Breakfast Club, alongside DJ Envy and Angela Yee. As an emerging industry professional myself, Charlamagne seemed a standard to attain. I truly considered him a media god.
But once I started reading the autobiography, I kept putting it down. My attention was not retained and, often times, found myself reading a paragraph or two and falling asleep. I was beginning to think the book was a bore.
It wasn’t until I’d read The Autobiography of Gucci Mane that I was able to focus on Black Privilege. And then BOOM, like a cosmic awakening, Black Privilege dug into me and I was transported to the many places Lenard McKelvey frequented and bloomed.
I was that eight-year-old being molested by a family friend, the big nosed kid with the fro who went from being made fun of to being the man. At night when I slept, my dreams airlifted me to Moncks Corner and I was that guy trapping out the drive through and the scared youth in jail hoping his dad would once again come rescue him.
I was Wendy Williams side kick and I was that hopeless radio guy who waited patiently for the next best opportunity. Every time I picked up Black Privilege, I found myself in Nard.
After finishing the book, I was filled with fire. The only opportunities were the ones I created! As a rising journalist and publicist, I’d mastered putting the weed in the bag and now it was time for the big leagues. And Charlamagne was my plug.
I immediately called my home girl.
“Sis, I just finished Charlamagne’s book!” I exclaimed. “Everybody in the crew needs to read it. It’s for us!”
“Girl, you know he a rapist?”
I was in shock.
So wrapped up in the novel, I’d been avoiding social media; unwilling to leave the Moncks Corner that had become my own. But upon returning, the scandal was everywhere. Trusted mentors and entertainment professionals from everywhere were splattered across my timeline sharing slander and allegations against my imaginary mentor figure. And my mind went into overdrive; stuck somewhere between a member of the Me Too movement and the industry.
I was torn. And as a sinking feeling swelled in the pit of my stomach, an invisible cloak slid over my mouth and I said nothing.
I remained silent for multiple reasons. Mainly because I felt like I’d be attacked. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, I just didn’t care enough to say anything. The risk of risking a collaboration with my Media Guru was too great. My ambition was greater than my morals and I was tearing at the seams.
The logistics were typical. According to Billboard, a young woman named Jessica Reid accused Charlamagne of raping her at a party in 2001 when she was 15-years-old. Charlamagne denied the claims and the victim refused to cooperate with the prosecution. Ultimately, the young media mogul plead guilty to a lesser charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and was sentenced to three years probation.
And despite Reid’s desire to reopen the 17 year old case, the South Carolina Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett A Wilson issued a statement on July 12 the dismissed rape charge against Charlamagne would not be reopened and that he is innocent of the dismissed allegation.
I remembered Charlamagne discussing a situation similar to this in his book. I wondered if this was the same situation; I wondered if they were different. Either way I hope it wasn’t true.
Though the case against Charlamagne was not reopened, the situation surrounding the allegations is one all too familiar in todays age. The #MeToo movement is alive and well, with everyone’s favorite TV dad, record exec and movie guy falling prey to it around every corner.
While Charlamagne is no Harvey Weinstein, the sheer doubt cast upon his name following the reemerging of the incident was enough for many fans to turn their back on him and his brands. And, while I waited to get all the facts before making a final decision, I cannot lie and say heavily shaded side eye was cast in the direction of him and his Breakfast Club cohorts. Still, despite having facts, I still was conflicted.
As a journalist, I found myself upset with Charlamagne for getting “caught’. I watched as he was thrown into the same pool as Russell Simmons and Bill Cosby. But was he really caught? As a member of the media, I knew things were sensationalized and blown out of proportion all of the time; especially if there was a big name attached to it. But as a woman, was it really fair to downplay another woman horrific experience as just sensationalism?
As a woman, I was concerned for Jessica Reid, her children and her family. What does it feel like to walk around a victim for 17 years while watching the accused blossom and grow on the main stage? What if she’d pinned the wrong guy? How had she coped?
I also thought of Mook Mook, Charlamagne’s wife and their two daughters. I wondered if they’d saw the accusations; I wondered how his wife felt. I was concerned for them all.
As a fan, I felt a great sense of relief. Charlamagne was fully cooperative with the investigation and took a DNA test, which did not produce any evidence that he had sexual contact with the girl, according to TMZ.
I was thankful for the testing and that he was cooperative with the investigation. The last thing I wanted to see what the career of another successful, black man in entertainment go up in flames for the entire world to see.
It was something we’ve seen back to back these past few years. Favorites withiin the community succumbing to a demise built on a bed of allegations, sexual inappropriateness and vile sentencing’s. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case with Charlamagne. However, it did leave me filled questions.
Would this negatively impact Charlamagne’s brand and would IHeart catch flack for not disciplining the morning show host? How many men accused in the #MeToo movement didn’t do what they were accused of? And how many women were victims of sexual assault but never came forward?
More than anything, who in this industry could really be trusted? Trusted to be honest or trusted to be real? It was all a blur. I’d heard horror stories from both male and female colleagues about experiences with sexual harassment and assault while working in the entertainment industry. None of the stories were pleasant and most had either failed or catapulted in the industry.
As far as Charlamagne was concerned, I was happy my dog was off the hook. However, a daunting lesson hung over me. I knew from reading his book that Charlamagne hadn’t been the best guy in his earlier years, in fact he was downright disgusting. However, he’d been a well known mogul for years!
Yet still, something from his past was able to come back and bite him in the ass.
As a young professional, the tale of Charlamagne is a warning lesson for everyone coming up in entertainment, especially Hip Hop. For whom much is given, much is required. And just as soon as an opportunity is given, it can be stripped away.
I am thankful that isn’t the case with Charlamagne The God. Yet still it is a daily reminder that despite all of the bright lights in this industry, right around the corner, darkness is lurking.