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The BluePrint %*
September 2013 SpelmanPaper@gmail.com
THE HARRIET TUBMAN SEX TAPE:
Russell Simmons' Attack on African-American History
By: Ko Bragg C’2015
Ask any Spelmanite who has taken
African Diaspora and the World (ADW),
and she may groan at the mere mention of
the subject. Though it seems so ingrained
in the Spelman student body, many people
are not familiar with the study that relates
to many people of the world—as proven
by its absence from Microsoft Word’s spell
Intersectionality or intersectionalism
is the study of the relationship between
different tiers of disenfranchisement
and oppression. It aims to highlight the
interaction between oppressive systems
as they relate to gender, class, race, sexual
preferences, and any other form of self-
identification. At the core of it all, intersectionality
affirms that bigoted oppression does not limit itself to
one form; rather it works in conjunction with other
configurations of hatred.
Sometimes I like to think of ADW as preparation
for cocktail hours in the sense that it prepares you to be
ready at a moments notice, even if that moment occurs
over martinis, to combat the fallacies about African-
American culture that exist in the minds of the average
American. Much of what we study in ADW relates to the
intersectionality between being a person of color and a
woman—two groups that were historically marginalized
by racist and sexist laws for centuries.
Though we no longer live in the era of Jim Crow
and his equally oppressive sister “Jane Crow,” as Pauli
Murray coined during her time at Howard in the 40s,
there are still plenty of times in America in which the
black woman is forced to be reminded of the weight she
bears atop her black skin that covers her womanly figure.
Just in August, Russell Simmons attempted to
use his idea of humor to overshadow the struggles
that African-American women have overcome on the
journey from slavery to present day with the release of
The Harriet Tubman Sex Tape on his All Def Digital
The Harriet Tubman Sex Tape was created to be a
parody of two slaves seeking to revolt. The plan was for
Harriet Tubman, played by actress Shanna Malcolm, to
seduce her master (actor Jason Horton) into having sex
with her while another slave (actor DeStorm Power)
filmed it. The two slaves planned to use
the tape as blackmail in order to escape
The myriad of shaming inaccuracies
are overwhelming in the parody starting
with the fact that slaves during the Harriet
Tubman era would not have had access to
video cameras that were arguably not even
invented at that time. Moreover, enslaved
black women, such as Harriet Tubman,
should not be remembered as sexual
deviants who wanted to get their masters
into bed when so many were raped and
“Although in the video she seduces
the slave master, it implies the previous
rapes,” Simmons said in an interview with
the YouTube channel Brkdwn. “I just saw her taking
advantage of the slave master and I just let it go.”
Russell Simmons, who described the video on his
Twitter as “the funniest thing he had ever seen,” only
took the video down and issued an apology after the
overwhelming backlash he received in response to the
Change.org, an online platform for petitions geared
towards creating social change, hosted a petition by
Crystal Fleming, Assistant Professor of Sociology and
Africana Studies at Stony Brook University. The petition
ordered that the video be removed immediately, but it
also urged Simmons to apologize to the United Nations
because he is an appointed Good Will ambassador to the
UN for the permanent memorial in honor of the victims
of Trans-Atlantic slavery.
I don’t quite understand how someone in Simmons’
position, let alone a grown man, could ever support
something so disgusting. In his apology issued on
Globalgrind.com he said:
“My first impression of the Harriet Tubman piece
was that it was about what one of actors said in the video,
that 162 years later, there’s still tremendous injustice.
And with Harriet Tubman outwitting the slave master?
I thought it was politically correct. Silly me.”
His apology, which did not express sentiment and
was more focused on defending the creative right of the
video, shows a level of immaturity so shameful that I had
not realized it was a facet of our society. Silly me.
By: Karys Belger C2016
The N-word is a word we have all heard and
some have used in one form or another. Recently, I
was thinking about the word, its origins, why African-
Americans are okay with using it with one another, and
why we condemn people who are not of African descent
for using it.
Before I delve a little deeper, here’s a little history
lesson. The N-word derives from the Spanish and
Portuguese root “negro,” meaning the color black. Before
it became an ethnic slur, it was used to describe anyone
of color, African or not.
It was not until the later part of the 15 th century that
the word became synonymous with African-Americans,
a group that was viewed as inferior by their Caucasian
counterparts. Today the N-word is a common adjective
that is used in a variety of situations, from referencing
a person you hang out with daily to referencing a dude
who treated you badly.
Though it is apparent that this term had seemingly
innocuous origins, it is universally agreed upon that
the N-word was used in some places, particularly the
South, because it was more offensive, and demeaning
to African-Americans. The word became synonymous
with subservience and lack of intelligence—things
inaccurately associated with African-Americans. This
practice continued into the latter half of the 19th century.
Fast forward nearly 175 years, the N-word has
taken on the commonality of a government descriptor
and colloquial slang term. It is used as a misnomer for
African-American children who seek a better education
and civilians who seek equality under a system that
refuses to protect their interests.
No matter how many times your friend uses it
to greet you, or Jay-Z says it in song, you should not
desensitize yourself to something so hateful. The more
people continue to use the N-word, the more the
ignorance behind the meaning will be perpetuated.
Coming Soon in the Next Issue
By: Karimah Noble, PED Scholar C’20l5
Is your roommate driving you up a wall and you
do not know how to handle it? Does your Morehouse
brother want to be more than “siblings” and you can’t
quite find the words to say “not in a million years”? Are
you facing difficulty balancing your school life with your
social life? Have you ever wished you had an outlet to
blow off steam? Do you want unbiased, impartial advice
to help navigate through the inevitable challenges that
come along with college life?
Well wish no more, Sister Spelman is here for you.
Sister Spelman is an advice column that seeks to establish
healthy dialogue through anonymously submitted
questions and/or concerns.
Sister Spelman’s foremost priority is to protect her
reader’s privacy. All submissions will be kept confidential.
No names or email addresses will be shared inside or
outside of the Spelman community. So rest assured and
let the dialogue begin!
Please send all correspondences to sisterspelman(5>
gmail.com. Looking forward to hearing from you
A SPELMAN SPOTLIGHT
PU B LI C ATI O N
PIECES OF ADVICE
Your Spelman Sisters Never had...
By: Kamron Taylor C’2015 & Karys Belger C2016
1. Appreciate the ‘Spelman Experience’ while you are here.
2. College is all about managing time wisely.
3. Get involved with student organizations.
4. If you can get the books cheaper, do! Chegg.com.
5. Budget your money wisely; you do not need Subway everyday.
6. Don’t keep food in your room. It’s the best way to keep the freshman
7. Don’t wait to develop a relationship with your professors. You’re next
opportunity, might be too late.
8. When a Man of Morehouse asks you to come to his room and “watch a
movie,” it’s likely the movie is that last thing on his mind.
9. You’ll need different dresses for different occasions. PLEASE BE
AWARE: You can’t “sip tea” in the same dress you “twerk” in. Ladies,
10. Don’t wear heels to the kickback.. .Just don’t do it.
11. Business wear is a must. If there is something important happening
on campus, career fair, info session etc. you will want to look as
professional as possible.
12. It rains in Atlanta a lot. Have several umbrellas on hand: one for your
room and one for your school bag.
13. Be careful on social networking sites. Your professors can and will find
14. Explore Atlanta. There are so many places in Atlanta to explore make
sure you ask your big Spelman Sisters to help you out.
15. Although you don’t have a car, you can use MARTA. Just be careful,
research where you’re going or ask someone and take a friend.
16. Don’t be alarmed by what we call “ATLiens” or “WestEndiens”. They’re
harmless. If they speak to you just say hi and keep it pushing. If they
ask for money tell them you don’t have anything on you.
17. Be careful what you say to your AUC peers, and whom you say it to. It
will ALWAYS come back to haunt you.
18. Your first year group of friends may not stay together forever. Just
focus on surrounding yourself with positive people.
19. Make sure that you stand out as a leader and showcase your talents to
the AUC community. You never know who is watching.
20. Get your community service done as quickly as possible. Even better,
make sure you join campus community service organizations like
SKIRTS, ACTS and JumpStart.
21. Don’t play with your GPA. A+ and A- make a huge difference. Make an
effort to get the highest GPA possible in your freshman year so you can
be inducted into honor societies like Alpha Lambda Delta.
22. Don’t compare yourself to others. Be yourself.
23. Be careful with these kitchen beauticians! Don’t let just anyone do your
hair. Many students think they are professionals, and you will to until
you are bald.
24. Take advantage of networking opportunities. For just about everything
on campus it’s about who you know!
25. Hide your food in the community fridge or someone will eat it. Putting
your name on it means nothing. We are hungry college students just as
much as we are beautiful.
26. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, drama will come so do your
best to diffuse the situation calmly and quickly.
27. Get to the party shuttles early and bring flats.
28. You have to have a 3.0 GPA to participate in most campus activities.
29. Second semester freshman year is when you can try out for the Step
Teams and Mahogany-N-Motion. Prepare yourself by working out first
30. You can try out for cheerleading first semester. You can also run for
Freshman Class Council and Dorm Councils.
31. The freshman dorms at Morehouse will have dorm queens. You have
the opportunity to run. Try it out!
32. You only have four years at Spelman and they go by so quickly. Have
fun and use the time wisely.