Russell Simmons Talks Harriet Tubman Sex Tape Backlash: “They Tried To Turn Me Into Paula Deen”


If you had the chance to see the “Harriet Tubman Sex Tape” on the YouTube channel All Def Digital, it was probably something you’ll never forget. Let’s be honest, the clip was disrespectful as all hell. But if you leave it up to Russell Simmons, he’d prefer if you forget it and move on. While sitting on Arsenio Hall’s couch the mogul was asked about the controversy surrounding the video, and while he said he understood most people’s qualms with it, there were just too many “do-nothing negroes” trying to be angry just to be angry (remember how he told Andre Leon Talley that he’d done more for blacks and gays than the fashion icon had?). Guess he feels that since he’s contributed a lot philanthropically and to music and more, folks need to cut him a break.

Here’s what he had to say to Hall about the backlash and the video:




“It was probably the worst idea of my life. I mean, it wasn’t my idea. I didn’t produce it or write it, but I gave access to it and I let it play. Most people didn’t see it but complained about it.

There was this really in bad taste–and I’ve done lots of comedy in bad taste, lots of music in bad taste, lots of poetry that offended people, lots of music that people really felt hurt by and I’ve always stood by it. But this particular piece was was something that when I understood how hurt people were, I pulled it down immediately. I’ve never pulled down a piece of content. It was this idea that this slave took advantage of the slave master and blackmailed him and it really struck a nerve in people and hurt their feelings. I pulled it down within a few hours of it going up and I tried to move on. Certain people, and of course, everyone has the right to be as outraged as they want, but they were outraged and they wouldn’t let it go, I felt. Maybe it’s something you don’t want to let go and that’s okay. But I didn’t get the calls from…the NAACP called me and I pulled it down, and they called me about Def Comedy Jam believe me. Def Poetry Jam, people were really upset, people were picketing and they were booing on national TV. And for Public Enemy, they shot my office up. They had snipers and they told us that if they didn’t get rid of that racist band we wouldn’t be on Columbia Records or any record company. So flash forward, we got the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we have a Tony Award and lots of experiences where we let artists speak freely. This time I didn’t. The first time in 30 years that I didn’t elect to support the artist. I didn’t get a call from any Civil Rights leaders or any people, they just said we accept your apology because before they even knew about this I had apologized. But a lot of these do-nothing negroes, you know, they were very angry and kept talking. It’s been very tough for me. They tried to turn me into Paula Deen [laughs]. But I want to move past that.”






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