The Harriet Tubman “Sex Tape”, Russell Simmons, & Black Male Misogyny

On Twitter last night, I caught wind of the latest internet fuck-up done at the expense of black history and black women. Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons posted a video that parodies slavery and the constant surfacing of celebrity sex tapes released to the open public. However, the video was no laughing matter.

The Youtube video, which has been taken down due to Black Twitter’s barrage of angry tweets, was supposed to be a sex tape of Harriet Tubman. Details of the video are sketchy, especially now since it has been deleted. I’ve never watched the video because of the fact that such a video was made was mind boggling enough, but the fact that it was produced with Russell Simmons’ – a well-respected member of the hip-hop and music community – having a hand in the process of putting it together – he probably was at the helm – only produced another moment for black folks to hang their heads in shame.

The mainstream seems to be on a mission to decimate the importance of black American history. With Lil’ Wayne’s Emmitt Till lyric, the spat between Jay Z and Harry Belafonte, and now this shit with the slave rape video, it disappoints the hell outta me that some brothas (and sistas) have such a latent disrespect of history for the sake of hits, money or just cause. They would smash notable figures in order to create some cheap shindig that’s not enjoyable, artistic or entertaining.

It makes me ashamed to be a black male that a video that has turned the memory of one of black America’s most brave warriors into a punchline that only the likes of the KKK would find as humorous. It’s more painful to see that there is an apparent segment of black Americans who would die laughing at this piece. It makes me wonder where did black America go wrong to allow our entertainment to go this far? Not only are there individuals who would make a mockery of their history, but will degrade black women as well.

When Rick Ross made a song that contained a lyric that suggests date rape, there was a firestorm calling for responsibility. Yet, the fact that such a lyric was thought of and was evidently approved by music execs shows a glaring problem in this nation, and the black community must take notice that lurks in their neighborhoods. Misogyny is a major problem that we are facing, and it must be dealt with.

And I’m not laying the blame entirely at the feet of the white male dominated media. The rape of black women continues to not only be encouraged and practiced, but is also supported and excused, not just by white males, but by black males. Our brothas!

Several years ago, the news was buzzing about the Dunbar Village gang rape in which a group of young black men held a Haitian black mother and his son hostage in their home and forced the son to commit incestuous acts against his own mother,  physically torturing and sodomizing them. Four of the ten(?) rapists were caught, tried and sentenced.

harriet-tubman_sex-tape_russell-simmonsBack then, the young thugs had supporters, including Rev. Al Sharpton himself, who claimed that the Florida justice system was being unfair to them as far as sentencing goes, as opposed to another rape case in which five young teenage men was accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls who were drunk with shots of vodka!

Arguments surfaced how the young black men were railroaded into the system, that it was a plot to send more black males into the prison system. A mother and her son who were victims of a heinous crime seemed lost in translation by certain people who wished to see the gang free. They saw the young men as those who needed more help than the victims!

The problem is that NONE of the young brothas were innocent. There was hard, irrefutable evidence that they participated in these horrible acts. And it was more than obvious that some people can’t understand what justice is as opposed to simply “protecting the black man”.

Some people are too blind to want to protect black males (mostly as opposed to protecting black females) that they are willing to go through hell or high water to protect any black men, even the ones who have – undoubtedly – did something stupid or destructive, even at the expense of other blacks. No one denies that racism against black men is still high in this country, but the ones who have contributed to intra-racism, internalize and external, need to be called the fuck out .

They also need to consider the well-being of black women in our struggles. Black power must not be a males-only movement.  Fighting for the black community requires that ALL members must be valued, and we must seek justice for our people even if members of our group are against us.

Of course, we can discuss and debate the factors that lead to the gang-rape. We can say how the young men were poor, had violent childhoods and no positive male role models. We can point out that it’s not just black men with misogynistic attitudes towards women. We can also acknowledge similar incidents of white males raping women. It doesn’t take away the the fact that these men committed a horrible crime against a black mother and her child. They needed to be off the streets and held accountable. Yet, it doesn’t diffuse that there still is a minority of black men with hateful attitudes toward women, especially black women.

Going back to this insult of a video, yes, what Russell Simmons did was shameful, not just to him, but to all of us. Even though we didn’t take part in the production of the slave sex video or even clicked on the link to watch it, we still feel embarrassed. (This comes from being a member of a minority in a white racist nation.)

I am very angry that such a video is out there produced by a black man whom I once had the up most respect for. I am vexed that he and the people behind the scenes and in front of the camera participated in its creation. I am sore that they would dare trample over the legacy of a great black woman. And I am saddened that in the 2010’s, internalized racism is still around. It shows that it’s not enough that it’s up to us to control our own images, but it still matters as to who controls them, even if they are black themselves. If they have poor attitudes regarding blacks, expect the products to be no different than that of a sheltered, racist, sexist white person.

Please click and sign this petition to send a message here.