“While Her Memory of that Evening is very Different from Mine…”: Russell Simmons Stepping Down From His Companies

I am not surprised. As more and more people are revealing their truths, it does not come as a shock to me that Russell Simmons is among the list of enforcers. He exudes the power-loving capitalist, and at the time of his ultimate hubris, I’m sure he felt inclined and entitled to many a thing, and in his eyes apparently, things could be women.

Simmons’ apology is sound, it checks all of the boxes, it remembers to state that he is leaving to work on himself and correct his ways. The problem is, with this and so many of the apologies, is they all seem to say, “I’m sorry you took that situation the way that you did”, then they step down or leave a show. Simmons stated that “While her memory of that evening is very different from mine…” Your memory is not relevant. The article Lumet wrote in The Hollywood Reporter is terrifying – like a horror movie kidnapping and a girl doing what she felt like she had to do as she felt her life at stake. Whatever Simmons remembers has nothing to do with how this woman truly felt by the circumstances Simmons created, thankfully Simmons acknowledged this.

This country has been through an immense trauma from its inception, murder, rape, torture, enslavement. Ancestral trauma is real and presents itself in many forms. For some it compels them to act in a violent fashion, present trauma people have experienced can have this effect.

Specifically, the historical trauma in this country around Black men is real. This pain is in our blood, our bones, but I believe humanity still exists in us. That’s why we still have feelings of what is right and what is wrong, we intuitively can feel when we might be making uncomfortable circumstances and check ourselves. I mean read the effin’ room. But these actions seemed predatory, forceful, and painful.

Sex is a truly beautiful and powerful thing in the world, making it also the most dangerous. As a species who has sexual organs, not just for procreation – we have the capability to provide ultimate pleasure to each other – be vulnerable and have an exchange that opens our minds to give and receive this magnificently. This is meant to be an equal power and when equal – this experience can surpass any form of pleasure that any violator could truly behold.

Power makes you feel like you can control anything, like the first homunculus in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – you believe if you can swallow up the power of God and can manipulate any situation without consequences – no the existence of consequence is ignored.

Take note – take it well. There should be no miscommunication or confusion in sexual acts. There is no Fifty Shades of Grey, the colors should be clear and concise cuz consent is consent – not “well, I thought,” or I remember, or it seemed like. Forcing someone to do anything, exposing yourself without any warrant or ask is ridiculous and I can’t see any confusion there. You made choices.

This isn’t the first time either, there are very specific accounts stating Simmons and Ratner worked together to violate a young model in the past. When this was revealed the ‘allegations’ were denied and the full opposite was said – I would never. It seems every prominent figure in the media above the age of fifty is getting thrown into early retirement by the things they thought were ok back in the day or that they thought no one could touch them for.

The question then, is how do we handle this information? Should we discredit the strides Russell Simmons has done for Def Jam and the future of music, comedy, and so much more for POC communities? To me – no. Those things happened – he may be a despicable person and he has paved a way for phenomenal people, and people who inspire better people, strive to create for better people. I feel like we always wanna hit’em where it hurts, their money – but when that money trickles down to the advancement of better people, what now? Money is a universal dirty paper – so what is next?

I appreciate the sentiment that Simmons’ apology included, however honest he is I will leave to your impression, “As the corridors of power inevitably make way for a new generation, I don’t want to be a distraction so I am removing myself from the businesses that I founded. The companies will now be run by a new and diverse generation of extraordinary executives who are moving the culture and consciousness forward”CNN Media

I hope the women speaking their truths are getting what they need, whether it be closure, release, peace, justice – whatever it may be. And I truly ask that the people taking over in these places move the culture and consciousness to a place where our traumas are recognized and our humanity and respect foundational.

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  • Aisha Jordan bio: Actor, Writer, Arts Administrator. I am a movie nerd. Born and raised, action and adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, cartoon enthusiast, and aficionado. Raised by a Trekkie mom in a world of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and Lord of the Rings. Foundation in social justice theater and playing in the nerd and entertainment world.

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