Surviving R Kelly: A Framing Analysis of Tweets by Black Women

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Kim Smith and Dr. Tira Murray


Journalism and Mass Communication

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2019


This study explored frames generated by black women who tweeted in the “#survivingrkelly” hashtag while watching the Lifetime cable TV series “Surviving R. Kelly” on Jan. 3, 2019. We analyzed 286 out of 2,651 tweets that fit the criteria for frames in our coding sheet. R&B artist Robert Kelly is accused of sexually molesting underage girls dating back nearly 20 years. The “empowerment for sexual abuse survivors frame” comprised nearly one out of three tweets. In this frame, black women tweeters provided links to resources or advice to help victims of sexual abuse. Twenty-seven percent of their tweets framed Kelly as an accused “sexual predator.” Twenty-four percent of the tweets framed the underage girls he allegedly abused as “victims.” Frames as potential tools for swaying public opinion for or against Kelly during the “Metoo” Movement, and their implications for black women, who are historically more likely to be victims of sexual abuse compared to women overall, were also discussed.

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