Russell Simmons thought something called “Harriet Tubman Sex Tape” was a good idea

It took one whole day, but Russell Simmons's controversial new YouTube video was taken down.


Chase Hoffberger

Internet Culture

Posted on Aug 15, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 9:06 am CDT

It took only one day, but Russell Simmons’s controversial new YouTube video—a re-imagination of fabled black emancipator Harriet Tubman’s underground railroad efforts called “Harriet Tubman Sex Tape”—has been deleted from the video sharing site. In a statement issued to Global Grind, a site Simmons owns, the longstanding entertainment mogul said that he “get[s] it” and “respect[s] it” and did not plan to cause such an uproar.

“In the whole history of Def Comedy Jam, I’ve never taken down a controversial comedian,” he wrote. “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 [the] actors said in the video, that 162 years later, there’s still tremendous injustice. And Harriet Tubman outwitting the slave master? I thought it was politically correct. Silly me. I can now understand why so many people are upset.”

Starring YouTube comedians like DeStorm Power, Shanna Malcolm, and Jason Horton, the 3:27 video purportedly told the true story of how Tubman, the famous slave who helped so many others escape from the country’s south to its north, managed to so effectively throw slave owners off their trade. Her tactics were shady, but they were simple: she’d sleep with the slave owners and have her fellow slaves record it, then use the recording as blackmail to set themselves free.

Clutch Magazine has a rundown on all the reasons why this video might be offensive—they’re all pretty obvious. A mirror clip of the video can be seen below.

Photo via VeganRapNerd/YouTube

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*First Published: Aug 15, 2013, 9:20 am CDT