Russell Simmons has apologized for releasing the now-deleted “Harriet Tubman Sex Tape” video on his All Def Digital YouTube channel.
“In the whole history of Def Comedy Jam, I’ve never taken down a controversial comedian,” Russell Simmons said in a statement published on Global Grind. “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.”
Simmons also said what he thought of the video before he was asked to remove it.
“I’m a very liberal person with thick skin,” Simmons said. “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.”
The video featured actors DeStorm Power, Shanna Malcolm and Jason Horton. In it, Tubman and a slave formulate a plan to blackmail a slave owner for freedom by filming a sex act between Tubman and the slave holder. “All these years I’ve been acting like I didn’t enjoy our special time together,” the actress portraying Tubman says in the clip. Shortly after the clip was released, it faced criticism for its depiction of Harriet Tubman.
Harriet Tubman, a significant figure in American history, was born into slavery. Tubman fled for freedom and risked her safety to help hundreds who were also enslaved. Tubman was able to carry out this task through the Underground Railroad, a secret network of routes and safe houses. Tubman also served in several capacities during the American Civil War.
Russell Simmons addressed the launching of his new All Def Digital channel in a press release Wednesday (August 14).
“I’ve worked my entire professional life to promote up-and-coming talent and the new art forms they create and YouTube is the perfect platform for this new generation,” Simmons said in a press release. “Just as our talent will benefit from being able to engage directly with their fans, YouTube will benefit from having a network that reflects the incredible diversity of the new America.”
Simmons, the co-founder of Def Jam Records, helped break artists like LL Cool J, Beastie Boys and Run-D.M.C. The older brother to Rev Run of Run-D.M.C., Simmons was also a producer on many of the group’s projects, including 1984’s self-titled release. Earlier this year, Simmons announced the launch of All Def Music. Simmons has worked in fashion, known for his ownership of Phat Farm. He’s also worked in comedy, most notably as the creator of Def Comedy Jam. Simmons has also participated in philanthropic efforts, forming the Hip Hop Summit Action Network and the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.