My Feelings About the Harriet Tubman Sex Tape in 10 GIFs

I tried to write a sternly-worded letter to Russell Simmons and the entire team behind this “Harriet Tubman Sex Diaries debacle” and I couldn’t make fetch happen. The words wouldn’t come together. First, let me catch you up.

All Def Digital is a collaborative YouTube channel that Russell Simmons and Brian Robbins recently launched. Yesterday, they released a skit called the Harriet Tubman Sex Diaries and described it as “the off-record account of how Harriet Tubman blackmailed her master into letting her run the Underground Railroad.” “Harriet” and a fellow slave plotted to bring “Master” down by having him come to her room and then she seduces him as the other slave is in the closet recording it.

SO ridiculous and I think it’d be best if I just expressed my feelings in a series of GIFs, like the folks of BuzzFeed love to do. When I logged on to Twitter and saw the hashtag “#HarrietTubmanSexTape”

huh  what gif

When I clicked the link and saw the video, and my initial reaction was

i cant even gif

And then I just felt this pure rage that came from the bottom of my stomach and I wanted to just flip my laptop over and smash it on the ground.

Flip Laptop

Because surely I didn’t just watch a skit where Harriet Tubman seduced her master who had clearly raped her, and then rode him to kingdom come. SURELY I DIDN’T JUST SEE THAT. But I had. And my blood was boiling. I was SO UPSET.

Angry Tom gif

Because WHAT THE HELL!?!? How offensive can one 3-minute video be? Slavery, rape culture, the devaluing of the bodies of Black women etc etc etc. All it was missing was a homophobic joke and it woulda won the gold medal in the offensive Olympics. I was just so angry. Then you put the fact that the video was a slap in the face of the legacy of Harriet Tubman and you see why I was like:

I Hate Everything gif

And then I saw Russell Simmons’ tweet that it was “the funniest thing” ever and I was wishing this on him:

Epic Dropkick gif

Because there’s one thing for anOTHER to create such an insensitive, classless, tasteless and couthless piece of trash about Black women. But when it’s the work of another Black man, featuring willing and able Black folks, it hurts extra. It’s like your own family saying you ain’t worth anything. Not respect. Not love. Not care.

Sad Simba gif

And it made me think about how Black women don’t get told enough that we deserve everything good. That our bodies matter and our lives matter. And while we walk around with the weight of the world on our shoulders, we should remember that even Atlas shrugged. But then we see something like this and whatever load we may have put down comes right back.

We still don’t get the care we deserve.

After we raised hell enough and the NAACP called Russell Simmons, the video was taken down from the All Def Digital YouTube channel and I was like:

Whatever Clueless gif

The damage was done. For Russell Simmons and his team of insensitive douchebags to even create that video is fucked up. And the fact that no one along the way thought to say “but wait.” It’s fucked up. And then Russell gave some half ass “sorry you’re mad” apology and I was like:

Go Fuck Yourself gif

Is that harsh? Yup. But I’ont care. Russell Simmons and his Cletus the Slack Jawed Yokel ass can go lay on a bed of pointy nails for this. I haven’t been here for him since those janky ass RUSH Cards he was touting. And as he acts like he’s this Zen dude in touch with the Earth and shit, he’s creating utter trash.

And it’s even sadder because he has two daughters.

But let me not just point to Russell. The fools who starred in the video too. Shanna Malcolm should go bury her head in the sand for defaming Harriet Tubman. How much did you get paid to shame your own people so properly? Was it enough?

Girl Bye gif

That video… EVERYTHING was wrong with it. EVERYTHING. I don’t feel like explaining because I don’t have the words but others do, like Jamilah Lemieux of EBONY and the members of BYP 100.

Cooning for cash and shamefully shucking for shit that should never gotten past “idea” stage.

And on top of ALL of that, it wasn’t even funny or remotely close. Comedy and satire can be used for the darkest subjects but approach matters. This skit wasn’t witty or clever. Nor was it even smart. It was low and cheap and terrible.

Like I said, I’ve tried to write a sternly-worded letter and I was crippled by rage. But here’s how I felt and yeah… UGH!

Sorry for this terribly incoherent post. I’m still mad. Did you see this travesty? What were your thoughts on it?

Harriet Tubman Tshirt

My favorite tshirt

“I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”Harriet Tubman

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • JazzT August 15, 2013, 11:57 pm

    Thankfully, I did not see nor hear about this. (Hadn’t been on Twitter) Just reading your title sent my heart into fits and my stomach revolting. WTF Russell?

  • Marsha S. Haneiph August 16, 2013, 12:07 am

    I saw your tweet about the video earlier tonight but refused to type the words “Harriet Tubman Sextape” into a search engine. You and Jamilah Lemieux’s article said it all.

  • Chef Ebony August 16, 2013, 12:14 am

    I saw it trending on twitter and was confused for real! But I dared not click on anything out of pure rage from just the title. I realize only people in the twitterverse even saw this. I did click on a link today to view it but only made it 11 seconds in. I cant watch that. I don’t know what the %^>< he was thinking and why no one spoke up. I don't under stand WHY all the production people, personal assistants, writers , directors in his circle and nobody bothered to say" hey this may not be received the way we are thinking"! They just watched him throw a ricochet grenade and blindly turned a deaf ear. And let me say one more thing,,,, coming from a Russell who doesn't even date women who look like him. More specifically black women , we can clearly see how he views black women. Sad but true.

  • Amber August 16, 2013, 12:18 am

    All I can gather is a long sigh in moments like these. Thank you, as always Luvvie, for using your voice to share what we feel as a collective. I’m so proud of you, and Chescaleigh, and Kim Foster, and so many other women who are leading the charge to speak up and saying, “Wayment. No. Just, no.” Thank you.

  • Monique August 16, 2013, 12:35 am

    I couldn’t through 30 seconds of that video. Disrespectful is not even the word to describe it. It was utter trash. Black people have been losing hard for all of 2013 and they didn’t make it any better.
    BloodDiamond Rush was being a big activist with the Trayvon Martin case, but now with this he was just having a jolly time laughing at it. Then has the nerve to give that half apology that basically said to me was “I’m sorry you didn’t find it funny.” I’m not here for him or LocalGrind.
    Btw I’m definitely not here for Shanna who calls her fans “McNigglets” and then she has her white fans in her mentions telling her that they will always be her McNigglets. FOH with all of that.

  • RavenJ August 16, 2013, 12:44 am

    Me feelings over this are extra raw. I’m currently doing research for grad school detailing the lives of Black women in the south during slavery. Here I am reading narratives about their lives and their struggles…and this is the shit they decide to joke about? Really? Ugh…just ugh!!!

  • Tarah August 16, 2013, 1:22 am

    Luvvie…..well……Thank you. Thank you for this blog that so richly describes what a lot of us are feeling, but do not have the words, or technical capabilities to express.

  • Travis McClain @TravisSMcClain August 16, 2013, 1:41 am

    My friend linked me to this, citing it as one of the two best reactions she’d found to the video.

    And it made me think about how Black women don’t get told enough that we deserve everything good. That our bodies matter and our lives matter. And while we walk around with the weight of the world on our shoulders, we should remember that even Atlas shrugged. But then we see something like this and whatever load we may have put down comes right back.

    We still don’t get the care we deserve.

    That broke my heart to read. I don’t know what, if anything, it may mean to you, but for whatever it’s worth I saw this post. I read it. It affected me. You’re not just speaking into a void.

    • Taj August 16, 2013, 11:03 pm

      Awww, sir…
      How nice!

  • Nyree August 16, 2013, 2:04 am

    I wish EK was here to dig in that ass. Wherever she is…GET YA BOY!

  • Shakira August 16, 2013, 2:43 am

    I haven’t even watched the video ( I can’t. My stomach, heart, and sanity can’t take it). I have so many questions. So many “why’s” and “what the hell’s”. The fact that these jackasses really got together, formed this idea and said “yeah, this is gonna be hilarious” before actually giving it a GREENLIGHT is so beyond baffling. Russell, you have 2 DAUGHTERS!!! Two young women with African blood running through their veins. Harriet Tubman is a LARGE part of their history. Their legacy. How fucking DARE you??!?! I have ZERO respect for you and there’s no get back with this one. Hope it was worth it. Smh

  • HowlingBanshee August 16, 2013, 7:00 am

    I had to shut down my computer and walk away when I first saw this mentioned on twitter yesterday. And what kind of sense was this sacrilege supposed to make? Blackmail? Everybody knew that plantation terrorists had sex with our enslaved people – all the time. The wives knew. The preachers knew. Nobody cared. The only person who have been hurt by such a sex scandal would have been Mama Harriet. Everyone involved in that video needs an exorcism. They need to be gitmo’ed. They…iQuit…

  • Author Ericka Banks Kelly August 16, 2013, 7:10 am

    I saw the video and was horrified. I can’t fathom how anyone could think that was funny. Let’s try to forget that it was Harriet Tubman for a moment, but instead a random unnamed slave…STILL not funny. Russell Simmons is ova wit for this one. Ova! Ugh I never liked him anyway, but now I hate his ole peanut head ass. Your blog was on point but funny too; I was thankful for the laughs you provided at his expense since I’ve been mad since I watched that travesty. I hope he at least has enough sense to be ashamed. Nah…probably not. SMH

  • Inmyownwords August 16, 2013, 7:31 am

    Over the top, kneel jerk reaction ….

    • Dee August 16, 2013, 10:07 am

      What is a kneel jerk reaction?

      • Luvvie August 16, 2013, 10:09 am

        A reaction where you’re kneeling down and you hit your dougie? *shrugs*

        • WhiskeyOnTheRox August 16, 2013, 1:39 pm

          Dammit Luvvie!!! I’m trying to be serious and then you…with the dougie…I can’t stop laughing.

        • Tramona August 20, 2013, 10:45 pm

          …and to hit that dougie while in a kneeling position? I cackled so hard I hurt my throat!

          Seriously though, if you’re going to come for somebody, at least get your phrases right.

  • Ange J August 16, 2013, 7:47 am

    Russell, would you have still thought it were funny had your mother, grandmother or the likeness of them been the subject?

  • Keisha S August 16, 2013, 7:57 am

    Thank God I did not see it!! I have read about it and the title alone lets me know that my not seeing it was for my own good. I am close to the edge on for so many reasons with some of the foolishness our people do and say. This may have pushed me right on over!! Russell seems to have a deep seeding hatred for black women and I often wonder…Why? If this were your mom…wait maybe he has issues there. So if this were your daughter, niece, would this be OK? See I’m pissed and I didn’t even see the video. Let me go.

  • Jabari August 16, 2013, 8:00 am

    This is what happens when you are the industry’s long time bottom bitch (‘cuse my French)….Russell sold his kitty off a long time ago and now his people are reaping the struggle. It honestly doesn’t surprise me that he thought this was funny, considering he is the one one who made it….and as for Shanna Malcolmm, the .gif x1,000,000 plus a pox on your cow, pox on your house and alla your ancestry. Girl, you are the reason we need to stop letting ratchet coons in front of the camera.

    I just….I mean …..#iQuitPeople

  • Leesa August 16, 2013, 8:40 am

    It was 360 degrees of awful, degrading and not funny whatsoever rolled into one. I looked some of the other videos he’s launching on his new channel and they’re HORRIBLE. Real World Star Hip-Hop type stuff–biggest common denominator? Vile/not funny/amateurish.

    I also thought Russell’s “apology” was lame. He kept retweeting all the negative comments people made, stupidly thinking any press is good press (I guess?)

  • Shannyn Marie August 16, 2013, 8:47 am

    Mr Simmons seems to respect the organic food and the young unformed, non African American woman he’s so drawn to more than the woman/soldier who risked her selflessly risked her life repeatedly for her people. Luvvie thanks for this post. I don’t want to waste anymore precious real estate on your blog even thinking about him.

    • WhiskeyOnTheRox August 16, 2013, 1:41 pm

      you betta PREACH that good word!

  • Nicole WJ August 16, 2013, 8:55 am

    Luvvie…well done as usual.

    You forgot 1 GIF – when Dawnn Lewis turned into the devil in “I’m Gonna Get You Sucka”. That’s the EXACT image I had in mind when I watched the video!

  • Tracey August 16, 2013, 9:00 am

    When I saw the words “Harriett Tubman Sex Tape” on my FB page, I was all, “…the hell….” because I just knew this was some kind of incredibly bad joke. Then I was all, “This can’t be for real, right?” Then I read your post and I was back to, “…the hell….” again.

    Russell Simmons should go pound sand. Or better yet, every black woman on earth should go pound him with a bag of sand as we sing a song he once produced…”Proud to be Black.” Maybe we can beat some pride back into that lunk head of his, the twit.

  • Courtney August 16, 2013, 9:03 am

    Uncle Rush has fallen wayyyy off. If anyone should be able to identify a cutting edge project, one would think it would be him. I mean, isn’t he like the great grand pappy of hip-hop aaaaand the producer of Def Comedy Jam? I mayyyybe see how some of these actors thought that the project would be a come up since it had his name attached, but as soon as the script was read, everyone’s eyebrows should have been raised. I just…can’t. And to think Russell is raising 2 young women of African ancestry. Is this what he wants for them? I’m just so confused. He needs to go somewhere and do some tree poses and meditate if he thought, at any point, this was okay. The answer is a resounding NO. We ain’t here for it!

  • Claire August 16, 2013, 9:18 am

    Thank you for this post–GIFs and all!

  • LadyLarke August 16, 2013, 9:34 am

    Even though he “took down” the video, it still lives. It’s the internet. I can’t bring myself to watch that crap, though. As a young black woman, I can’t see the parody in one of the pioneers of the abolition movement having “leverage sex” with her slave master. Especially after the African American race in a whole got a nice kick in the ass thus far in 2013 and after Black women have been objectified for YEARS, wayyy before Sara Baartman, the Hottentot Venus. Shame on you, Russell Simmons. You are Black. You of all people should know better.

  • Yetunde August 16, 2013, 9:37 am

    I was way past disturbed and sad by the nonsense. I could not even watch. I had to stop. In a time when it seems we are reverting to old ways of treating black people It just seems to be worse than even 2 years ago. This is supposed to be a time to rejuvenate Black people in America not find one more thing to knock us down. LIKE WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH ALREADY and that it’s a powerful BLACK MAN doing it? I am way past livid, I am beyond dissapointed. YOUR POST echos my sentiments and feelings exactly.

  • circa1908 August 16, 2013, 9:38 am

    I didn’t see the video and still have no words.. but let me tell you who’s words come to mind when I hear of this internal racial oppression and misogyny. Sojourner Truth.

    Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain’t I A Woman?
    Delivered 1851
    Women’s Convention, Akron, Ohio

    Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

    That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

    Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

    Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

    If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

    Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.

  • gillyrosh August 16, 2013, 9:43 am

    “Crippled by rage” sums it up well. Than you for articulating my feelings so well.

  • BELauriette August 16, 2013, 9:45 am

    My heart was hurt watching that video.

  • PoetrysTruth August 16, 2013, 9:48 am

    Chesalocs is going hard on twitter. Folks are threatening her life and using racial slurs. Where is the outrage of the community? Why is nothing being shouted from every corner of social media? Oh damn I forgot…if a brown person can’t rap or play a professional sport, we don’t matter.

    I’m sick to DEATH of this shit! SICK!

  • Tiffany August 16, 2013, 9:48 am

    I saw his apology before I saw the clip. I had no clue what he was apologizing for because I didn’t pay that much attention to the hashtag on Twitter. But then I watched the clip, and was enraged. Harriet Tubman walked…WALKED through STATES, freeing herself and others. Shot cowards on sight if they even though about turning around. She was courageous and fearless. But Russell Simmons decided while doing a Downward Facing Dog, that he should reduce such and iconic woman….to being only her lady pockets. Then to add insult to injury, he then says that he has developed a thick skin. Oh really? You’ve developed a thick skin for rape?! I can’t and I won’t.

  • KemaB August 16, 2013, 10:18 am

    What made my blood boil is the men talking about how we were overreacting that the only problem is that it wasn’t funny and we shouldn’t tarnish Uncle Russ who does so much for blk ppl you know like he tarnished Harriet Tubman. Oh? So he fights the good fight from time to time means we can’t tell him about hisself. Negro please. I unfollowed him ASAP and disappointed that more celebs who are quick to jump on the global grind bus didn’t speak up against him consigning that fuckery on twitter.

    Then I saw his apology that came too late and I was done with that clown. Don’t be the first to call out the injustices of the world against your kind when you think it’s hilarious and not that serious when you allow it within your own race. Disgusting.

    Ps. That Scandal comparison tweet Luvvie RT’d represents everything that I hate about twitter. TF Olivia Pope has to do with this shit SMH

  • Michelle August 16, 2013, 10:44 am

    Preach it girl!!! You said it..all..
    There is just..I can’t!!

  • Chanel August 16, 2013, 11:12 am

    I saw this video, and my face just dropped. Let’s break this down:

    1) Russell Simmons was born by an African American woman;
    2) Russell Simmons was born raised an African American woman;
    3) Russell Simmons is raising two young daughters who will grow up to be African American women
    4) I don’t know if he has any sisters, but if he does, that’s a slap in the face to them too
    5)was married to a (albeit 1/2) African american woman

    And never once, ONCE, thought this was inappropriate? What if his little girls saw this? They are bound to have questions, and if he is supposed to be a guiding light in their future, then he needs to sit back and really think about what he did, and not give a half ass apology for embarrassing the race like he did. NO SOUP FOR YOU RUSSELL!

  • Don Owens August 16, 2013, 11:16 am

    This is unforgivable. I’ve seen folks online try to compare the ‘artistic’ nature of this to Dave Chappele.

    Not even close. And even if it was, Dave stepping away is validation for why this shouldn’t have ever made it to video.

    In my opinion, Russel Simmons has destroyed his legacy irreparably for the next two decades. By green-lighting this fiasco he has signaled what his success was about all along. It was about ‘his arrival’ at the cost of every female in his life.

    Yeah, yeah, I know we’ll soon be seeing interviews and testimonials from all the women he’s helped over the years, but celebrities and adults must understand that it can and will all be thrown away when you sacrifice your credibility for a cheap laugh to drive up views on your damned Youtube channel.

    Shun this man. And pray no one treats his daughters in the way he just treated the legacy of Harriet Tubman.

  • WhiskeyOnTheRox August 16, 2013, 1:37 pm

    I haven’t been able to CAN with Russell for a while now. I’m wondering if he is back on the booger sugar because he is just OFF. He ain’t been quite right since he and Key-Mo Mo parted way. He should do us all a favor and go play in traffic…on the freeway and take Phat Farm and those damn argyle sweaters with you.

  • Arjai August 16, 2013, 1:39 pm

    Just seeing the words “Harriet Tubman Sex Diaries” made my black tingle. How in TF could any black person string together these words in their heads more less say them out of theirs and hear them. “Harriet Tubman Sex Diaries” are you F’ing kidding me!! Once again, “Harriet Tubman Sex Diaries”!!!! It makes my womanhood cringe .. Someone ought to slap da shit out of someone and right now I don’t much even GAF who!!

    I have not nor will I see this shit because there is nothing good that will come of me being any angrier or more hurt for not only having imagined, but actually seeing a woman, not in black face, but black period, defame one of us so blatantly.

    Russel Simmons can kiss my black, creamy ass parts! Fuck him and his crew .. the film crew, the stage crew .. his .. Lord, I’m pissed!

    And the trick who “played” Harriet Tubman can also take a whiff of my anal sphincter. Fa real, though.. fa real, “Sis”!

    I am not much of a Hollywood watcher, I don’t really give two shits who is in the in crowd or who is trying to crowd their way in, but I promise I will remember this tricks name. Anything she plays in is off limits to everyone and everything in my household.

    Un-F’ing-believable.

  • Brandi August 16, 2013, 3:42 pm

    I feel like the quote you ended this post with applies to everyone who had any part in creating that video. Cooning for views is just shameful. I refused to even watch it because I can’t give them the views. My twitter feed blew up the other night. The title alone had me disgusted. I truly have no idea how anyone involved with this project could have found it tasteful and funny.

  • Taj August 16, 2013, 11:24 pm

    Stuff like this and the apathy or support for it makes me not want to leave the house. It confirms that weird paranoia that I have, living in a city full of people and aren’t sure what their views are of Black people or Black women.

    Like I said in my post, we should trade his ass for one of our ancestors that would actually deserve the freedom that his new-money ass gets to enjoy. I can’t stand that coon!

    His activism is all lip service. This is the same dude that threatened to drop LL and others from Def Jam if they did the ‘Self Destruction’ video back in the day. He didn’t want to piss off the Jewish people funding his label.

  • I Am Your People August 17, 2013, 12:25 am

    What the Rush Card hell? And his “apology” on HuffPo saying people were to conservative and sensitive? BYE!

  • Calvin August 18, 2013, 4:50 pm

    Why are you shocked? Russell Simmons didn’t marry a black woman and isn’t dating one to my knowledge. And his mama and black female teachers are probably all dead, so what black women were gonna stop him?
    The woman playing Harriet, Shanna Malcom? She likely dyes her hair blonde thinking it’s cute, and was asleep during history class. She fucked the teacher to pass.

  • alex August 18, 2013, 9:17 pm

    #blackpowerisforblackmen

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