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Russell Simmons is a Bloody, Sold Out Idiot

You’ll have to forgive me for the rather ineloquent title. Unfortunately, “Ultimate Douche Bag” is reserved for someone else whom I loathe with unbridled disdain and “bloody, sold out idiot” just seemed apropos for the moment. Because surely, this is idiotic.

Have you seen this? This is Russell Simmons contribution to “comedy”:

Apparently, Mr. Simmons thinks the sexualization of a Black feminist icon by parodying the and very painful instances of rape that Black women and girls were subjected to, without hope of justice, as recently as 1950, is “funny”.

I watched the video and experienced a range of emotions.





Sadness and pain.

Humor and amusement were nowhere to be found in that spectrum.

Here’s the thing about me and the formidable Harriet Tubman. I’ve blogged about her on more than one occasion because I encountered her very early in life when I was first introduced to the subject and history of slavery. I read “Roots” cover to cover at age 12. I visited my first slave dungeon by 10. I had been informed of the atrocities meted out on the people of Congo by the demented and satanic King Leopold of Belgium, whom among other things introduced mutilation as a form of punishment to the natives of the Congolese colony under his rule. Somewhere in there, I met a little girl named Harriet Tubman, who could have been me had I the misfortune of being born a just a hundred and fifty years before.

At age 8, Harriet Tubman was sent out to work for a white woman as child-minder for the new mother’s infant baby. When the baby would cry, the woman would whip Harriet in punishment. As a kid myself, I thought this was incredibly unfair and rather stupid. That’s what babies do – they cry.

When she was a bit older, she was hired out again to work for a fur trapper who used her to perform the most dangerous tasks of the trade. These included but were not limited to entering and submerging herself the swampy waters of the Georgia back woods in order to bring out the traps and their catch. I imagined (and certainly know now) that it was scary, unpleasant, back breaking work for a little girl.

By the time Harriet grew into womanhood she was working in the field doing the manual labor of a man twice her size. She was dark-skinned, not a house Negro. She knew the woods and understood how to move through it silently. She had a special bond with her father, who loved and cherished her. It was rumored that her lineage was that of the Ashanti, but there is no proof of that. The fact that she may have been from Ghana made her all the more special to me.

We didn’t learn about Harriet Tubman in school while I was growing up in Ghana. We hybrid kids had to memorize facts about her and other heroes of the African-American struggle for Kwanzaa plays and presentations at the DuBois Center in Cantonments. Facts like the two pound weight that she was struck in the head with for refusing to help a white man restrain his run-away slave and the coma she found herself in after having blood and sweat trickle down her face for two days never seemed to leave me.

Our lesson about Ms. Tubman usually stopped at the part where she led a few hundred slaves to freedom up North and never lost a passenger as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. As an adult I would discover that she served as a Union spy and had a distinguished career serving in America’s military as a scout and a nurse during the Civil War. She was promised a salary and compensation for her part in furthering the success of Lincoln’s army, which of course, she never received.

I found out later that she would also be called upon by women in the Suffragette Society to give speeches about her exploits and presented to their ranks an example of the strength of womanhood – a strength that men who ran American society long purported did not exist. And yet here stood this sinewy woman – brain injured and destitute – defying all that was said about her, her sex and her race. That she was a stupid beast of the field only fit for mindless toil and perhaps the drunken, violent advances of her white master or any man in a position of power for that matter. She was the very opposite. She was a cunning master of disguise. She had wit and foresight. She was graceful, kind and determined. She died in poverty so that others less fortunate than she could have at least some small comfort by virtue of sharing the little that she had within her possession.

And that – that is what makes Russell Simmons’ video so sickening to me. How can a man – a father of TWO daughters – overtly disrespect and denigrate the woman who laid the foundation for his own mammy to earn the right to vote and stand with her head held high in American society? How could he find humor in this portrayal of Harriet Tubman as the stereotypical obese Mammie-figure, riding and gyrating on her master while screeching in “slave talk” before culminating the whole ridiculous scene with an insipid “gotcha” moment?

“Ise got what you White folk call ‘leverage’. Now git ta buildin’ that Underground Railroad!”

And then out pops the camera lens… and this is where we’re supposed to laugh? Major fail, Russ. Dave Chappelle on his worst night wouldn’t have dreamt up this one. Dave is a genius… and this is whatever the unrecognizable, bastard, bowl-legged child of Wit is.

Of course, there will be some Black men who find this insanely funny. There are those Black men who take pleasure at the constant defamation and abuse that Black women of a hue this-side-of-brown face every day in America’s media and popular culture. Call it what you will – self-hate, mentally caged or whatever  – but this is the crop of scum sucking individuals who feeds the veracious beast at “media outlets” like Simmons’ All Def Digital (ADD), who unequivocally prey on Black, poor, disenfranchised women’s flesh to fatten itself before hunting down more high-end quarry to further their careers and the lives of their little networks. Had Russell Simmons first parody been of Hilary Clinton achieving the presidency in 2016 through the use of a sex tape… well, I don’t have to tell you what would happen next, do I?

But no. ADD’s debut video was of one of Black Womanhood’s most sacred sisters, which is easily done. After all, hip-hop as we know it was built on the literal backsides of buxom Black women and in the most disgusting forms. It would make sense for this hip-hop mogul to launch his comedy career on the legacy of one of America’s strongest Black women. That’s what we’re here for, right? To “take it”.

Your mother and all the women in your life, including your two little girls, should she ashamed of you, Russell Simmons. But I guess since they fall into that delightsome “browning of America” category you’re always so proudly touting (they’re not really BLACK, are they?) you have nothing to fear for raising their disappointments.


Just go back to making socks, or whatever it is you do, and leave the comedy to the professionals.


Rest in perfect peace, Harriet Tubman, and know that there are some of us who will never sit silent in the face of your disrespect; not while we draw breath!

This article has 7 comments

  1. Nana Ama

    Idiot is too mild a word for that thing (Simmons) that looks like it was spawned by ET! And bless you for defending our beloved Harriet Tubman so gallantly, and so well.

    • Malaka

      It’s the least I could do. How could I not defend this angel? How could anyone who had even a modicum of knowledge about her exploits even agree to participate in this filthy, woeful excuse for humor?
      Would that little lisping troll (Simmons) make a “parody” of Trayvon Martin’s murder? Have you read his apology (where he LOLs in the middle for having a sensitivity chip removed)? In it, he says he has a “thick skin” when it comes to comedy. Does that thickness extend also the the hundreds of black men and boys who were also sodomized during slavery in punishment and degradation? Then by all means, lets have a laugh at their expense as well!
      Oh I’m so angry!

  2. Nat

    I am sorry for your anger. I read what simmons did and it was apalling and disgraceful. He should be ashamed of himself, but I doubt that will happen. Your article is emotional and powerful. I will confess, I don’t know mutch about Ms. Tubman, but you have inspired me to learn about what kind of a woman she became and the people she saved. The world is full of Russell Simmons when it needs more Ms. Tubmans. God Bless You.

    • Malaka

      Thank you for your sympathy. 🙂

      A few years ago I bought a series of books on historical figures for my kids. “Who was XYZ” were the titles (ie who was Rosa Parks, George Washington, etc). Although the titles are written for elementary school kids, they give excellent accounts of the lives of these people and the events they lived through with no political spin. We have “Who was Harriet Tubman”, of course.

      I highly recommend them for adults.

  3. Ekuba

    The guy is a right idiot lol. The apology he gave is even more appalling & it’s so obvious that it’s not heart felt at all. I wish more black people will protest about his comment the same way we protest when white folks say stupid/ racist stuff cos in my opinion, a guy like him who is black, has a black mom & 2 black daughters & can still disrespect black women in this way is a 1000 times worst than the most racist red-neck you’ll find in the South. Besides I’m very angry that he chose a fat woman (nothing wrong with being fat I’m fat myself hahaha) to play Ms. Tubman who was so fit with a taut tummy & all (see the last pic above)- walking all those miles & doing all that work in the fields was a major workout which Russell himself will benefit from seeing that he has a pot belly & man boobs upon all his claims that he’s vegan mcheww.

    • Malaka

      Ekuba. I say EKU-BA! Say it again! If we do not protest and demand that this man atone properly for this egregious sin, we are lost. This is worse than Clarence Thomas. This is worse than Paula Deen. This is just as bad as Russell Simmons pulling his gun and shooting Trayvon his bloody self. This is an assassination!
      You know there was once a $40K bounty on Harriet Tubman’s head? Well guess what, Russell just earned it. How? He sold her out for clicks and Internet ads.
      The man is reprehensible. Chasing after underage models and pretending he care about “the community”.
      The actress who portrayed HT sef should be even more ashamed!

  4. Adeen

    Wow Russell Simmons, Lil Wayne, Ice T etc are all self hating, White loving Uncle Tom sellouts who will put their own people down just to make money. And to me, that is just evil and wrong.

    How dare he disrespect Harriet Tubman in that way?

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