by Yvette Carnell
Russell Simmons seemed genuinely contrite after allowing the memory of a woman who risked her life to free slaves to be turned into a p@rnographic laugh line on his All Def Digital YouTube Channel. Since then, however, Simmons has been backtracking, following up his initial apology with a litany of excuses and wild eyed accusations.
Here’s what Simmons said to Arsenio Hall during an interview when asked about the Tubman video.
“You know, it was probably the worst idea of my life,” Simmons said, but quickly excused himself with, “I mean, it wasn’t my idea. I didn’t produce it, write it or, but I gave access to it and I let it play. Most people didn’t see it but complained about it.”
Russell Simmons does not enjoy having his own immorality attacked. He doesn’t want to discuss that at length. He doesn’t want to air out what he did, and the mistakes he made in allowing the video to go on air. Instead he wants to tell you that, although he financed the YouTube project, he didn’t write that sh!t, and it wasn’t his idea. Simmons, who has racast himself as a victim, says worst of all, critics tried to make him into Paula Deen.
“It was this idea that this slave took advantage of a slave master and black mailed him,” Simmons said, describing the video. “And it really struck a nerve with people and hurt their feelings, so I pulled it down within a few hours of it going up, and I tried to move on.”
He then continues: “But a lot of these do-nothing negros, they were very angry and kept talking, so it’s been very tough for me………They tried to turn me into Paula Deen.”
You see, in order to criticize Simmons, you must be a “do-nothing” Negro. You can’t be justified. You can’t be embarrassed over how an African-American icon is being ridiculed for profit. You can’t be …………right. Because to come for Simmons, you must be lazy, slackjawed, and flawed, at least according to Simmons.
It is unfortunate that this meditation yogi enthusiast has revealed to us that his mantra of self-reflection, which he tweets about at length, doesn’t apply to his own misdeeds. Some would interpret this to mean that the whole Simmons motif is fraudulent, that he tweets about spiritualism but only cares about dollars and materialism. I don’t know the guy, so I wouldn’t go that far. I would say that Simmons’ shrinking from responsibility in this, as he places the blame mostly on his underlings, does offer us the unique experience of peeking beneath the veil.
Russell Simmons’ actions are not the equivalent of Paula Deen’s. If anything, they’re worse. Simmons is a member of the black tribe, and has profited off that inclusion since day one, whereas Deen has a Southern base not dependent on African-Americans. The problem in the black community is not so much the Paula Deens of the world, but the blacks who make it to a certain pinnacle in white society then traffic on black stereotypes or profiteer using images which are detrimental to both the black psyche and how we are perceived by the global community.
Russell Simmons wants you to think he’s the second coming of Deepak Chopra, but he has no problem caricaturing Harriet Tubman as a slutty little thang who used what’s between her thighs to get over on ‘ol massah. He is either a contradiction or a chameleon. Either way, he has been revealed, and that’s what has him upset.
Hopefully, the lesson in this for Russell is that not everything (or everyone) is for sale. And instead of blaming and shaming others, he should find creative ways to use his platforms:
Yes, Mr. Simmons, and happiness doesn’t come through hurt feelings and vilification of your critics. Practice what you preach. If I’m not mistaken, that’s the first step to both Zen and not getting your @ss handed to you by your own community.