Russell Simmons is the latest victim of social media backlash. A video purported to be Harriet Tubman’s sex tape hit his You Tube channel yesterday and the black social media universe wasted no time letting him know just how much he’d erred. Not only did Black Twitter and just about every other place where black folks convene on the internet streets go crazy on Russell, they quickly shared the Twitter handles of the clip’s two actors, the actress playing Tubman and the writer.
To understand the ire directed at Simmons, take a look at the offending video. (Warning: Slightly NSFW, and the “N” word is briefly used.) The scenario is this – a thick black woman playing Tubman makes plans with her black lover to blackmail her slavemaster/lover so she can help more slaves to freedom.
I’m not sure in what universe Simmons felt this was funny but once he tweeted his amusement to the world, the web lit him up. His Twitter feed, @UncleRush was flooded with responses, including one user who called him a “racist house ni—a.” Facebook pages lit up with comments, with some folks going in on Russell, others saying people are taking it too seriously.
The NAACP got involved, calling Simmons and asking to take the offending video down from his website, Global Grind. To his credit, once the response went viral, Simmons, a longtime advocate of free speech, took it down and apologized, saying that he is a very liberal person with very thick skin who never censored a comedian (or any of his rap artists). He also admitted via Twitter that he may have “a sensitivity chip missing.”
A disclaimer: I know and worked for Russell Simmons and Def Jam in the 80’s. While he’s clearly a central part of the creation of hip-hop, I’ve never felt, based on personal experience, that his views on women were particularly progressive. (Another website has made a cottage industry out of mocking his dating habits.) It was a long time ago, and I can’t say Russell has done anything untoward since, but I think it’s fair to say that this is something he should have thought twice about given Tubman’s deservedly iconic status as a historic figure.
Sure, we can all laugh at things that are funny and edgy and political correctness is at epic levels, but Black social media has given the African American community a chance to publicly air their views and this was one that didn’t fly with folks. Given the George Zimmerman verdict, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act and the upcoming 50th Anniversary Celebration of the March on Washington, folks are feeling a little sensitive about the continuing inequities faced by people of color in this country. And really, do you blame them?
Fortunately, Simmons, who has enjoyed tremendous support from the black community over the years, heard the backlash and acted swiftly. Given that he is a father of two daughters, this incident may help him consider ways he might better contribute to uplifting black women instead of making fun of ones many of us hold in high regard.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
1 of 31
2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
2 of 31
3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
3 of 31
4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
4 of 31
5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
5 of 31
6 of 31
7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
7 of 31
8 of 31
9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
9 of 31
10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
10 of 31
11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
11 of 31
12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
12 of 31
13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
13 of 31
14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
14 of 31
15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
15 of 31
16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
16 of 31
17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
17 of 31
18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
18 of 31
19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
19 of 31
20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
20 of 31
21. Bae #retailtherapy
21 of 31
22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
22 of 31
23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
23 of 31
24. Diggy Simmons
24 of 31
25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
25 of 31
26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
26 of 31
27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
27 of 31
28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
28 of 31
29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
29 of 31
30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
30 of 31
31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
31 of 31