Op-Ed: Not Okay, Uncle Rush – The Feminist Wire

Op-Ed: Not Okay, Uncle Rush

By Darrian Wesley Thomas

Dear Uncle Rush,

Pull up a chair. We need to handle some family business. So, I saw the “Harriet Tubman Sex Tape.” The acting was believable and actually pretty good, but I didn’t laugh. Why not? I kept thinking about that one part of the Underground Railroad running through my home town. I kept seeing the Harriet Tubman I have read about year after year. Imagining myself as her in 1860 when she, on one of her 300 plus journeys, returned to the South to rescue her parents. Remember? And reading what Frederick Douglass said about her, “I know of no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hardships to serve our enslaved people than [Harriet Tubman]” (emphasis my own). Wow!Critical essay on Russell Simmons (Uncle Rush) and the Harriet Tubman "sex tape" scandal. Feminist analysis of violence against Black women.

The vilification and discrimination for being unwed mothers crossed my mind, too. How many women endure, not solely for the sake of Blacks but for the added nomenclatural pineapples of womanhood in our lifetime? And you, uncle Rush. I thought about your efforts against human trafficking in 2009. Time really got away from you on that one. Halfway through your twitter-bashing, I read your short apology statement. “I don’t condone violence against women” and up until this video post, I could have gone along with that but…I don’t know.

You pre-viewed the video Uncle Rush, right? You know it sends a contrary message to what was said in your apology. One that ignores the historic assault(s) on Black womanhood through acts of violence and defames the legacy of one of the few who made it into commercial American history books/discourse. That legacy of resisting violence and liberation has been passed down and is kept alive in hashtags like #BlackPowerIsForBlackMen. Pulling the video and apologizing were the least of the actions which need to take place soon. Your “sensitivity chip” to African American culture and history really is missing or is damaged. When else has it ever been funny to see our mothers in the act of being raped? And now with the added characterization of Black women somehow enticing their rapists in the name of blackmail. Sick jollies unc.

There is nothing hysterical about the violent present and historical practices of suppression against women, Black or otherwise, wouldn’t you agree? I mean just start watching #NerdLand because as Serena Williams learned a few months ago, the victims of violent crimes are not to blame for what has happened to them nor is their pain an adequate topic for laughter, ever.

Stay up.


Critical essay on Russell Simmons (Uncle Rush) and the Harriet Tubman "sex tape" scandal. Feminist analysis of violence against Black women.@DarrianWesley Thomas is a poet, educator and workshop facilitator. He has his BA degree (2011) from Bradley University and is currently pursuing his MFA degree at Adelphi University, where he is a faculty member in the English department.


  1. Sheri

    August 18, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    As a A.A. women and single mom, I was moved not by the video but by the overwhelming negative imagine of A.A. historian, that ones feel is comical, well my AA. Son of distinction your article is well versed and yes Uncle Rush need to get it together. He to has cross many railroads
    Mr Darrian you are…….Yong Gifted and Black (in my Nina Simone voice)

  2. Sheri

    August 18, 2013 at 12:17 pm


  3. Marty Gniech

    August 18, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    its stories like these that highlight the deep rooted problems of our cultures current view of casual sex and crude humor. it seems we still don’t realize the effects that such views have in creating violence against women. Great article Darrian Wesley!

  4. April

    August 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Well said! I didn’t watch the video because I was disgusted by the thought of watching it. That video was so unnecessary

  5. Amorous Theorist

    August 19, 2013 at 2:45 am

    I think this is a well-written reaction, highlighting atrocity from a historical perspective. Nonetheless, this video is nothing more than a distraction.

    While the offended can rail against him, and Mr. Simmons can apologize and pull videos, it is my opinion that there has been no public accountability for his actions that would change his mind regarding the video.

    Now, if Mr. Simmons had a “QVC pulling the plug on Paula Dean” kind of reaction by his partners and affiliates, then I would have believed his apology because it would have hurt his pockets. Unfortunately for many people in a society that is thought to be materialistic and self-serving, sometimes that’s the only kind of pain that makes a difference. It’s a blanket; this doesn’t apply to everyone, but the way the media pumps it into our heads, you’d think the rich and powerful were above the law, morality and just being thoughtful. Acts like this reinforce those stereotypes.

    I don’t condone it, but I can see how he would give a “why not” reaction, pull the video and then come up with a quick apology. It’s easy, it works and it’s over.

    Your voice is heard and I hope it rings in right pair of ears.