Somethings are just not ever going to be funny and one of the basic fundamental truths of telling a joke of any kind is that some people are not going to find it funny. As a woman of color I was at first horrified and then mortified to see links making the round on Twitter and the internet promoting a Harriet Tubman Sex tape…Initially it was too abstract to fathom. How could ANYONE in their right mind put forth something like this? Then finding out that Russell Simmons, aka Def Jam etc….was behind it – a black male. I actually felt tears welling up in my eyes and wondered while the drama and outcry unfolded how much disrespect and objectification black women have to endure from society at large as well as our own black males. It cuts more coming from within.
No one who has ever read any of the slave narratives or spent any time at all researching the period in which slavery was legal and accepted part of life could ever in their sane, rational mind think that a woman of the caliber of Harriet Tubman could be or SHOULD be portrayed in such a manner.
There are still libraries in this country aren’t there? Go check out Incidents In the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs – or you can also read two of the articles I wrote myself on the subject here on this site : The New Master and Mistress, Christianity and Hypocrisy or you can even read about Harriet Jacobs in a piece i wrote for Black History month Harriet Jacobs. There are so many I haven’t had the chance to write about, Sojourner Truth, Mary McCleod Bethune, Ida B. Wells, Shirley Chisholm, Bessie Coleman, Dorothy Height, and so so many others who are heroes of mine and who paved the way for me to even be able to sit here and write anything on this blog or to even be able to HAVE a blog at all.
To see one of the most if not the most important figures in African American history so disdainfully portrayed and I am not singling out Mr. Simmons every single person involved in that disgusting portrayal should be mortally ashamed of themselves for ANY part they played in putting this garbage out for public consumption. More so for Mr. Simmons who also happens to be the UN “Goodwill” Ambassador for the Slavery Memorial which just completely BROKE the irony machine to pieces.
It is apparently not enough to spearhead an industry that has as stock in trade a propensity to objectify and portray women as sexual objects and not actual thinking and feeling human beings, this spoof which he claimed on twitter to be FUNNY was just more of the same but taking it to the next level. There is a reason why some things are sacrosanct and there are somethings that are just never going to be a suitable subject for parody EVER. IT is disgraceful that this was chosen and the manner in which it was put forth was equally shameful and disgusting.
Too often we sit back and let things slide and say ok well they didn’t MEAN it – it was just a simple mistake….this is one time where things can’t and should not slide….
The numerous slaves who died NOT blackmailing their masters but because they didn’t move fast enough, or were perceived as being uppity, or simply because it was a boring day and someone decided to kill them for sport do NOT deserve their sacrifice to be served up in spoofs like this.
We say as black women that we want respect no demand respect and yet one of our own feels it ok to have a project like this and some of our own participated in it for – money and personal gain…
in the words of “minty” aka Harriet Tubman ; ” I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed more if they KNEW they were slaves”. Evidently Mr. Simmons and the group involved in this project are still to this date unaware that they are indeed slaves of the worst kind.