Saturday, August 17, 2013

Russell Simmons Apologized - Too Late, and So What?

Earlier this week, Russell Simmons, via his new All Def Digital YouTube channel, posted a comedy video that depicts abolitionist Harriet Tubman tricking her slave master into having sex with her as part of a blackmailing scheme. The video is called the “Harriet Tubman Sex Tape, and it has been met with such backlash that Simmons has apologized for putting the video out.  That said, before the backlash, Simmons tweeted that the video was “the funniest thing I’ve ever seen”.

I have not seen the video, and do not intend to.  Simmon’s producing this video and releasing it to the public was disgraceful, disgusting, hurtful, and sexist.  Harriet Tubman was a brave black woman who risked her life leading slaves to freedom in the 1800s, even working as an Union Army spy in the Civil War, and Russell Simmons reduced her to a sex object for everyone to laugh at, and be “the funniest thing I’ve ever seen”.

I see nothing funny here.  Female slaves were routinely raped by their slave owners, many of these rapes resulting in children. The rapes didn’t happen just one time, but throughout the female slaves’ entire lives. Even male slaves were raped. What is amusing, hilarious, or funny about a traumatic, devastating experience such as rape?  Why a “Harriet Tubman Sex Tape” knowing what went on during slavery?

I doubt Simmons would have dared make a sex tape starring Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, or Frederick Douglass.  To sully these men’s legacies would be unfathomable, even blasphemous to some.  If anyone else had produced a sex with the above-mentioned names, Simmons probably would be one of the most vocal in opposition.

I believe this sex tape idea came to fruition because of the ugly belief among some black men that black women don’t have any worth except for sex.  A black woman can be the President of the United States and still be reduced to some X-rated fantasy by a black man.

Russell Simmons has apologized.  So what?  The damage has been done – Harriet Tubman’s name has been muddied.  He reduced a hero into sick comic relief, while offending black women and victims of rape.  What action is going to be put behind this apology?


“Russell Simmons sorry for Harriet Tubman ‘sex tape’” -

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