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UPDATE: Russell Simmons Pulls Video, Issues Apology For ‘Harriet Tubman Sex Tape’ Skit

UPDATE: Russell Simmons Pulls Video, Issues Apology For 'Harriet Tubman Sex Tape' Skit

UPDATE: In case you’ve had your head in the sand (or in the clouds) over the last 24 hours or so, skip this update and catch up first, by reading and watching what comes underneath it, otherwise this update won’t make any sense. 

So here’s the update in brief: it didn’t take long after I posted the video for it to spread, leading to strong critical reactions to it (I don’t understand how Simmons and company didn’t see that coming) across social networking sites, and the black blogosphere. It was immediate, swift and unrelenting. The video was eventually pulled – but not before others downloaded it and re-uploaded to their video sharing site accounts, expecting that it would be pulled. You can see it below if you haven’t. Simmons then issued an official apology on his Global Grind website. Although many want more than just a few words. For example, I read a few tweets suggesting that Simmons should finance a film on the life of Harriet Tubman, written and directed by a black woman. While that would certainly be nice, I won’t hold my breath on that though.

But here’s his official apology, verbatim:

In the whole history of Def Comedy Jam, I’ve never taken down a controversial comedian. When my buddies from the NAACP called and asked me to take down the Harriet Tubman video from the All Def Digital YouTube channel and apologize, I agreed.

I’m a very liberal person with thick skin. My first impression of the Harriet Tubman piece was that it was about what one of actors said in the video, that 162 years later, there’s still tremendous injustice. And with Harriet Tubman outwitting the slave master? I thought it was politically correct. Silly me. I can now understand why so many people are upset. I have taken down the video. Lastly, I would never condone violence against women in any form, and for all of those I offended, I am sincerely sorry.

~Russell Simmons

And here’s the original post that started it all:

Russell Simmons and Awesomeness TV CEO Brian Robbins have launched a collaborative YouTube network called All Def Digital, which Simmons says will be molded into a multimedia content production empire.

Amongst its projected offerings is a web series titled B-Rock, which is described as an outrageous and irreverent spin on the Obama White House, chronicling the adventures of our 44th President’s super-alter ego.

Outrageous” and “irreverent” are key words here for the All Def Digital network, because, as you’ll see in its latest offering, titled Harriet Tubman Sex Tape, which is embedded below, it appears absolutely nothing is off limits! So you’re either with it, or you’re not apparently.

The clip is described by the network as “the off-record account of how Harriet Tubman blackmailed her master into letting her run the Underground Railroad.” 

It stars YouTube sensations DeStorm Power, Shanna Malcolm, and Jason Horton.

If you were one of those who was offended by Django Unchained, let’s see what you think of this one.

By the way, earlier this year, DreamWorks Animation acquired AwesomenessTV, in a deal worth up to $117 million:

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Grant Harper Reid "Rhythm For Sale"

Floyd Webb

Interesting. In Brazil, Xica DaSilve is portrayed as a slave woman with special "sex
secrets" that makes men hollah! And she uses this power to support a rebel Quilombo, to help captives escape and to live a life of luxury even while she helps create an all black monastery.
This tape, which I am anxious to see, before I comment on it, really means nothing to the actual history. These things only have as much power as we collectively give them.


I can see where Simmons wanted to go with this, but he should have skipped Tubman, the sex scene, and the ghetto-swagger. There are other ways to portray sly slaves who outwitted their master to a comedic effect.


And so, now do we see why #blackpowerisforblackmen was so true and so poignant after all? Because I'm 100% sure Russell Simmons' "thick skin" would never allow him to make an Emmitt Till lynching parody, and he was not even instrumental in our history as the work and lasting persona of a fearless icon like Harriet Tubman.


Russell Simmons and Jay Z are two of a kind. They deserve each other.

So glad I NEVER drank the kool-aid where these two IDIOTS are concerned.
He knew it was WRONG to begin with and went ahead making this dispicable
video anyway. Can we banish them both to alcatraz? … Really, just sickening behavior.

Mark & Darla

Russell Simmons is a fail jerk-off.


"I have thick skin", says Mr. UncleTom Russell. SMDH….. I guess as long as you/they mock Black Women only, some Black alleged men just don't give a damn.


This is very offensive just as if someone would attempt a Hitler/Anne Frank porno.. all disgusting and very unfunny. Folks who tell jokes like this are not really funny folks at all and don't last long. I remember back in the days when def comedy jam was really funny. Now we don't have any genuine funny folks anymore. Dave Chappelle being the last of them. Don't mention Kevin Hart…he is a glorified coon. Doing cartwheels, screwing up your face like you gotta take a shit, and being self deprecating every time about your height is not funny. We have to watch out for folks even friends even who have a penchant for laughing at the joke they tell. Its a ruse to get you to laugh and most times its not funny.


I see why his wife is gone.


The creators of that show must hate Black women.


No wonder so many races laugh at us. Not even a man with such profound influence in the black community can show appropriate reverence for an amazing historical figure. I don't even know why this surprises me, bearing in mind it's coming from the same man who professes he owns the n word and all it's suffering. What a moron.


Yo' Mamma… that's right, excuse me, but don't take this ass whoopin' p-p-p-personally, 'cause I ain't scared of you motherfu*kers.

Yep, I am agreeing with Gary C, what a tangled web we we've. Here we are on a film site complaining about what, exactly? Is this about art and an artist's expression of humor or the man, Russell Simmon? I don't know but I've seen this form of hypocrisy soooo many times…. and the gangs all here. Oh yeah, there's the NAACP straddling the fence in all it's pompous glory. Wasn't they the same bobbin' head negros who supported The Help, Django and that farce Red Tails? Oh my, and now they're waving the red flag over a comedy skit?! Please… spare me the fake misery.

And speaking of pied pipers, is his name really Russell Simmons or those who trot out the latest bullshit-ish "black news" designed to rile the less-informed folks? I mean, I am sure there's a message behind their madness, but what should we call those who feed us an overdose of negativity of blacks in the media like that Cheerios commercial, the Jay-Z & Harry Belafonte beef and this non-issue?

Hell, I thought this site was focused on cinema of the African Diaspora, not a history class on "woe is we" and "shame on them".

To that point, why is it considered a blasphemous affair to mention any of our championed pioneers in any sort of "negative light"? I mean, so Harriet Tubman lead slaves to freedom… And? Yeah, we got that… And? For real, if we mention Harriet Tubman's name, what's the common response? It's probably going to be something about a slave. Don't look now, but after slave talk hits the floor, the powers to be has some Negroes right where they want them. As long as he keeps them talking about slaves, collard greens and the past, it's all good in the hood, right? Yeah, talk-talk-talking about the past keeps us from looking forward. Sure, we don't want to forget the past but we can't make our lunch there.

We can't build a future while discussing slave routes. But we lose our minds when someone jokes about Harriet Tubman, that underground railroad woman.

I mean, for real, the future is now. Shouldn't we be talking about our future- right now? Harriet Tubman risked her life. Okay… next.

Really, what can our youth get from Harriet Tubman? Please don't talk about a lesson on perseverance. Our youth witness struggles every damn day. Seriously, if you don't believe me, try it for yourself and how you like it. Ask this generation about Harriet Tubman, they'll probably give a vague response about slaves and the underground railroad. Yeah, tell me something new.

Hey, I'm just sayin', make my funk the P-FUNK, I gots to get funked up. Why waste time discussing trivialities?


So I see a number of comments in here implying that the worse thing about this skit was that it wasn't funny … so if it had been done by people who were funny, then the utter disrespect of a woman who was beaten, raped, and dehumanized by slave masters would be ok? I think many of us need to recognize that some boundaries are good … if you don't respect yourself, why do you expect others to? I agree with Donnella's comment … if this joke had been about Anne Frank and a German Nazi, I wonder what the commentary would have been then.


I almost reached 1 minute before my heart shook and my stomach turned. This is so blasphemous and not at all funny or entertaining. The division caused by systemic rape, assault, destruction of family infrastructure may leave room for extreme, provocative or outrageous humor, but that's not what this is. I am guilty of laughing terribly hard at Paul Mooney's culturally racy and extreme stand up that hits unspoken truths of his experience being the black sheep. That was pre Obama. If this is counter culture humor I'd prefer the rock I was under but I don't want to throw stones at the disregard for a black female icon by RS. Instead I see a larger theme that is important to identify which divides new era goals for image, branding and marketing and is a stark contrast to what I observe is collectively honored within my own culture. I think with a difficult history we all are compelled to be allergic to things that remind us how deep and awful our ancestors had it at the mercy of wrathful and unjust neighbors. With that allergy comes our impulse to lean towards humor or racing through life or trying to be and stay young and hip forever without a care in order to just move passed that. I am ashamed to say sometimes people need time to not care and to break every rule to try to understand the source of their own being–but this video, still, I did not need to see. I don't think Harriet Tubman deserved this, she was an icon of faith, love, leadership, determination and dedication–the type, ironically, I hear most men of every race dreaming about and complaining they aren't there. Meanwhile the unconscious male culture (as opposed to the conscious male culture) dominates, insists on structures suited to their tastes for work and play and operate from 'never enough', ef it or kill it. If I could wish for anything I would wish for the collective inner cultural healing and new beginnings between Af-Amer males and females. I am not wishing for perfection just a cleared slate. I hear the social media pleas to stop giving reasons in the media to create black male images the allow men to be unfairly profiled. On the flip side, and let me specify, my comments are based on my personal experiences, I am expected to take the humor, the hoe images and comments about Af-Amer women and their hair, sex appeal and attitudes in stride. I'm over that. There seems little room to celebrate the women that have taken care of themselves and not had children they couldn't provide for, minus the father that was supposed to be there, taken a few blows by the very men we often are conditioned to protect and get treated poorly in the professional world often by other ethnic males so, thank, goodness, I celebrate myself and don't wait for my honorary satirical YouTube quickie to bring to light the things in my life that have been most awful, by the hands, ironically by a black law enforcement official, the then chief of police officer. All of this and this culture has the nerve to be allergic to LGBTQ. That's not the answer to systemically removing effery, I'm clear on that. The statement issued by RS is one tiny step in the right direction, I guess I'll take what I can get.


If we don't tell our stories and our history, then someone else will.
And this will be the final product.
New Slaves.


Russell Simmons may win some.
but he just lost one.


Lmao at "it didn't take long after I posted for it to spread." It was spreading before you posted it!

I'm glad it's been taken down. What morons. Can't say I'm surprised after Rush Cards.

Gary C.

Simmons most egregious error was underestimating the outrage of black folk. A black artists biggest censorship comes from…BLACK PEOPLE. Now I know Simmons isn't an artist but why Chappelle gets a pass for lampooning roots? The fallacy of the outrage I'm reading is not that one of our greatest champions of freedom is being disrespected but it's who is doing the disrespecting. Simmons is viewed as a sellout, and he is, so it's wrong for him satirize. If no noted black person was behind this video, blacks wouldn't have batted an eye or got emotionally riled up. Stop picking and choosing when to defend our history and people. I didn't like the video simply because it wasn't funny. Maybe if Chappelle would've done it…

Sumiko Saulson

This is the first time I have actually seen the video (all the other links had it taken down already). This really takes tacky to a whole other level: It is in very bad taste, poorly done, and minimizes, marginalizes, and tries to erase the historic contributions of one of the strongest women in African American history by reinventing history in a way that is hateful towards black women: What could have crossed Simmons' mind (and that of the other people involved in making this) that would make them think this was okay, or a good idea?


This, more than anything Russell Simmons has said, shows the inner workings of his mind. I could not, for the life of me, equate this great woman with such a monstrous configuration. It just doesn't compute for me! Why? Because I know the history of Harriet Tubman, and how important she was to the 'Black Stuggle'. So I Revere her and Respect her memory!! But, for Russell Simmons, it took no effort at all, to see her as a massa's whore; and that is what is so frightening about someone who has the attention of our younger generation! This crop of young, nouveaux riches, hip hop, black entertainers, unlike our black entertainers a generation, or so, ago, are either ignorant, dismissive, or both, of our history and obligation to those who came before them, and on whose shoulder they stand on. Instead, of inspiring a new generation of black youth to move forward, they are their pied pipers, leading them towards the cliffs that will swallow them into an abyss of oblivion!


It's like I've always said: the vast majority of these black celebrities are some of the most traitorous black folks I've ever seen. They care about nothing but 1) themselves, 2) money, and 3) attention. They give absolutely zero shits about respecting black people and our history. This is just par for the course. Screw Russell Simmons, all those involved in this, and every other negro cooning celebrity who thinks/acts like him. Stop supporting these people folks (and that means stop spending your cash on their shit).


Russell Simmons has no mental filter. Maybe it's the money that cause one's filter to dissolve, I don't know. I do know that years ago, while I was working as a freelance cameraman for BET, Sharon Carpenter and I were assigned to follow Russell down to the Million More March (oct. 2005) and he managed to insult me, my soundman, and my wife, all the while clutching his Buddhist prayer beads. He kept referring to my soundman, who is Cuban, as the "White boy." On another occasion, I was assigned to shoot an interview with him at FUBU and all he wanted to talk about was his RUSH card. On another occasion, I was assigned to videotape him and his then wife Kimora visiting a child in a cancer ward at Maimonides (if memory serves me correctly) and they both behaved so childishly towards each other in front of this little girl. Yet and still, you'd think this guy would have much more discernment. What did he expect? Does he think so little of black folks that he figured we wouldn't be upset? Apology is not enough.


I was hardly surprised that Simmons was behind this. His consumerist and materialist ideology only persuades, and thrives, when there is a numbing blanket of the ahistorical in the content, and in himself.


Russell has lost his black card years ago. Okay, what if slave women did have the option to expose their masters in this way…


Wow. Just lost the little respect that I had for Russell Simmons. Congratulations on all of your success as a sellout! Video wasn't even remotely funny. Makes me respect Chapelle even more.


Maybe the poor acting made it worse than it is. But this was just bad.


Black hollywood is full of traitors, who would sell us down any river for a buck! Black hollywood is the enemy of black people. This is the new "Birth of a Nation", brought to us by racist Blacks in Hollywood.


Black people need to let Russell Simmons know that his license as an exploiter of Black Culture has expired. His mindset is all whitewashed now.

lil nut

real talk, dave chapelle realized that even he was coonin' at a certain point. why else would a nigga walk away from 50mil??? he was just coonin' good. this is bad coonin'.

Deez Nutz

Ya'll trippn'!! You know that shit was funny. What's the difference between this and what Dave Chappelle did on his show? Don't act like you weren't laughing your ass off when hid did the Roots out takes. #CantHaveItBothWaysNigga


Looks like the outrage got them to take it down. Good.


For this very reason Harriet Tubman carried a shotgun!!!


it's sad people can't handle seeing an interracial couple in 2013. cheerios round 2


I think I felt every last one of the brain cells I have left die a slow and painful death while watching this.


This is unacceptable.


Russell would his fake ass

Jeff Kirkman

Not one single laugh this way. This has to be one of the most ignorant and disrespectful videos I've witnessed. Piss poor execution, touching subject matter that isn't open to this kind of mockery. I guess QT opened wide the doors for shit like this. SMH

Enoch Mubarak

I smell a traitor.. GRADE F- TRY AGAIN.


It started out ok then it just became stupid. I think the disrespect comes from the lack of proper execution. Try again Russell. Or better yet don't. Thanks in advance.


No ha ha's. Not one.

Monique a Williams

Not funny. Not the topic, I'm enjoy dark/black humor, but this was just terribly written and executed. If this is the debut, I'm not interested in the offerings of this network.


I'm not offended, but I didn't find it funny, either. And that's not to say Harriet Tubman can't be involved in something that IS funny… I think I remember Key and Peele having a sketch that included Harriet Tubman that I recall laughing at. Youtube has a sketch called "Harriet Tubman: The Sexiest Abolitionist" (search for it). Pretty funny, if you ask me.

The problem with the above is not that Harriet Tubman is a character, the problem is that it's not funny…


This skit was stupid. Not an ounce of originality or wit.


Yet we wonder why 'others' can consistently, tragically misrepresent our ancestors/icons. Some of us willfully approve of the blatant disrespect at the expense of satire for assumed comedy.
I promise you Simmons would be outraged if Don Lemon collaborated with O'Reily and meme'd…you know what, it doesn't even matter!


OMG! LMAO! Hilarious.. Everyone needs to calm down and take the video for what it's made for, humor!lol

Zee M

When I die, please respect me enough not to make a sex tape of me. I wish people like Harriet Tubman were respected. She deserves to be honored. Not made a mockery of. This is disturbing to say the least. Mere words cannot express my disappointment in those who think its ok to do something like this to someone who isn't even alive to contest or approve of it.




Everyone involved in this tragic piece of trash being passed off for comedy should burn in hell including Russell Simmons for allowing this on his channel! I cut if off and couldn't finish watching it. May Harriet Tubman rest in peace and hopefully people of this present age will learn to respect our ancestors instead of making a mockery of the suffering they went through in the past for a cheap laugh and financial gain!

Edwin Jimenez

There are inequalities 162 years later like DeStorm says that's what this is don't get it twisted


Sigh. Nothing, but NOTHING, is sacred anymore…

Still not funny.


I thought it was hilarious

Black Man 1212

In this day and age, everything that happens in society is made fun of. people relax and just enjoy the video.

That Guy

Don't take it so harshly, it's just comedy. That's what ADD is about, just comedy.

Black Theatre - African American Voices

Offensive and completely dis-respectful.


What.The.Fuck. I… I just don't know what to say.

Adam Scott Thompson

Not offended by it. Not tickled much either. Of course I'm a sucker for hushed slave talk, so that I found funny. Comedy is all about pushing boundaries. Sometimes you push wrong and people put you in a corner — see Lenny Bruce. But someone's got to take it there, if only to establish where it can't be taken.


I don't know what was going through their minds when they made this skit, but its not funny. More importantly, it is very offensive, PERIOD!!!! I don't know what makes people think they can make fun of any and everything. Some things should really be off limits when it comes to jokes. Female slaves relationships with their masters (which was often RAPE) is definately no laughing matter.

Thandiwe Thomas

I don't think I'm offended…I do feel like I just wasted my time watching an unfunny skit. Dave Chappelle or W. Kamau Bell could have taken that same idea and made sense of it. This is a fail.


You know, whenever you see someone doing some "poverty porn" or "black denigration/subservience porn" that's three red-flags that they are looking for a white audience, because that's the main audience for that type of fare.
And that it comes from Russell Simmons is no surprise.

Linda Love

I wasn't offended by Django Unchained but this is an all time low for Russell!!!


Moving to Mars.


About as funny as Anne Frank in a sex tape with a Nazi soldier.


He helped Rap/Hip Hop thrust to the fore but in this his mindset is so akin to their ignorant ways of thinking. I am not surprised.


Meh. Not that Harriet Tubman can't be funny. (Black Moses Barbie was hilarious, Google it.) This just wasn't good. Bet they're hoping the controversy gets them some views, because the comedy won't.


Just when you thought Russell Simmons had reached an apex of offensiveness with the introduction of his usurious Rush Cards! Totally unfunny, and further proof of Simmons' disturbing detachment and utter emptiness (despite his yoga practices and Buddha beliefs). Please, please stop.


There are several generations of younger Black people who have to google Harriet Tubman, and Elmer Fudd Simmons (and the thirsty blacktress in this hot garbage) think this is funny.


Not funny.


Since Harriet Tubman was raped and abused by whites. This is disgusting.

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