A disclaimer: I know and worked for Russell Simmons and Def Jam in the 80’s. While he’s clearly a central part of the creation of hip-hop, I’ve never felt, based on personal experience, that his views on women were particularly progressive. (Another website has made a cottage industry out of mocking his dating habits.) It was a long time ago, and I can’t say Russell has done anything untoward since, but I think it’s fair to say that this is something he should have thought twice about given Tubman’s deservedly iconic status as a historic figure.
Sure, we can all laugh at things that are funny and edgy and political correctness is at epic levels, but Black social media has given the African American community a chance to publicly air their views and this was one that didn’t fly with folks. Given the George Zimmerman verdict, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act and the upcoming 50th Anniversary Celebration of the March on Washington, folks are feeling a little sensitive about the continuing inequities faced by people of color in this country. And really, do you blame them?
Fortunately, Simmons, who has enjoyed tremendous support from the black community over the years, heard the backlash and acted swiftly. Given that he is a father of two daughters, this incident may help him consider ways he might better contribute to uplifting black women instead of making fun of ones many of us hold in high regard.