Why the 'Harriet Tubman Sex Tape' is a Sign We Need to Teach Slavery's Real History
Last week saw the video release of "Harriet Tubman Sex Tape" through Russell Simmons' YouTube channel, All Def Digital. As a student artist focusing on the portrayal of women in society, especially that of black women, I have a lot of strong feelings about this video.
I watched social media as the backlash occurred. Twitter was alive with both those who praised and chastised the video. I was a part of the latter. Russell Simmons is facing considerable criticism—as he ought—but I partially blame this on the watered-down version of slavery taught in schools.
What the creators of this "sex tape" missed is the fact that the rape of black women is a serious historic tool of racism and white supremacy. Masters raped their female slaves regularly. It was a facet of everyday life. We have the anti-miscegenation laws of the time to prove it.
The thought in this video is that there would be social and legal consequences for such an atrocious action when the truth of chattel slavery is that most often there were no consequences. Black people were property and white masters had no legal or social obligations to treat their slaves fairly or humanely.
The other huge issue is the portrayal of Harriet Tubman. She is one of the most badass people to ever walk this earth. To portray her as a conniving seductress taints her reputation. Not only that, but Tubman's portrayal reenforces victim blaming in contemporary society. To this day, black women are stereotyped as promiscuous. Much of this dynamic stems from a white society that blamed them for the rapes they were subjected to. And I don't even want to get into how hurtful and hateful this is toward survivors of rape. Or how Shanna Malcolm, the actress that plays Tubman calls her predominantly white followers "McNigglets."
I just want to know who cosigned this mockery? This is black self-hatred to its core. Not only that, but when will black comedians realize that this type of degrading comedy is not edgy or, frankly, funny? How can we as a people call for an end to racism when we so deeply internalize these same stereotypes?
I would ask for:
1. A real apology from Simmons. Not one apologizing for the public's offense to the video, but one fully acknowledging the oppressive nature of video and the lack of insight by all those that took part.
2. The promotion of history told from the African-American and other perspectives, as opposed to the white colonial view normally taught in schools.
3. A historically accurate feature film about the amazing life of Harriet Tubman.
If that happens, maybe future generations will be educated enough to not think disrespecting the legacy Tubman is alright.
Click here to add ensuring real history is taught in schools to your GOOD "to-do" list.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
When Humans Fight, but Animals Win Penguins have resorted to using landmines to keep pesky humans away.
So You Think You’re a Foodie? Pop culture was onto these trends way before you were. A sampling of the screwball comedies, sob stories, and sci-fis that anticipated our culinary moment
Dear Nine-Year-Old Me The transition is going to be difficult for you, but whenever you feel a little lonely and left out, take comfort in the knowledge that you are honing one of your greatest superpowers.
What to Do When Your Country is Drowning The wild and desperate ways island nations are fighting the effects of climate change
The Rise of Drone Pizza Delivery Why the skies will soon be filled with flying, snack-bearing robots
How Helsinki Became a Public Transporation Paradise One European city plans to make car ownership obsolete within a decade.
Follow the Crowd NanoCrafter and the rise of group intelligence Why online gaming may just be the future of science
The Empathy Mirror Neurofeedback enables us to better see ourselves in the other. Recent discoveries in neurofeedback can teach you to be less of a dick.
Robots On Ice Probe the Arctic Why a team of research robots is investigating disappearing sea ice, and why you should care
Don’t Turn Away Colin Finlay photographs the consequences of climate change. You will never see more beautiful photos of the deteriorating state of our planet than the ones in this photo feature.
Puppy Love How dogecoin spawned an improbable community of giving What a canine-emblazoned cryptocurrency can teach about philanthropy
Positive In, Positive Out: How a USC Alumna is Coping with Lymphoma Coast Guard Reserves member Cassie Sulfridge, 28, had just graduated from MSW@USC, the Southern California university’s web-based Master of Social Work program, and was working two jobs when her life was turned upside down.