Why Russell Simmons needs to STFU about #BoycottStarbucks

Russell Simmons thegrio.com
(Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Fast Company)

Over the last several months as allegations of rape and sexual assault mount against him Russell Simmons has become a social pariah and tried (unsuccessfully) to inject himself into conversations where he has no business.

First there was that failed attempt to clap-back at #MeToo (yikes!) and now the disgraced media mogul seems to be jumping on the #BoycottStarbucks bandwagon.

On Sunday, April 15th comedian Kevin Hart told his fans that he didn’t think they needed to boycott the coffee powerhouse after two Black men were accused of trespassing and were arrested in his hometown of Philadelphia.

“Let’s make one thing very clear….This is not a boycott @Starbucks situation….This is horrible management,” he said. “The manager on duty was wrong. It’s that simple…That’s who needs to take responsibility for this wrongdoing.”

Always looking for a way to paint himself as a socially conscious vegan (instead a serial sex offender) Russell Simmons quickly jumped in to correct the comic and called on him to support the “Black Tuesday” boycott against Starbucks.

“Dear @kevinhart4real we may need your help on Black Tuesday,” Simmons said in a now-deleted post. “We need to teach these companies to respect us and our buying power. LOVE YOU, no disrespect.”

Now is Russell Simmons the kind of person I’d be taking advice from on how to properly engage with people? Probably not.

This is the same man who has more than a dozen sexual misconduct allegations against him, at least six of which have accused him of flat out rape.

Even D-list celebrities have come out and said that you can’t be alone on an elevator without him groping your ass.

And what makes the allegations against him even more egregious is that his Black female victims say they felt particularly disempowered because Simmons (allegedly) told them that since Black women are at the bottom of the barrel, “misconduct against them could go unchecked because their place in the industry was so tenuous.”

So the brother who thinks sisters deserve less respect than their white counterparts is now asking us all to stand together in Black solidarity?

My first reaction to this was a greasy and visceral, “STFU Russell!”


But as the old adage goes, “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.”

And Kevin Hart eventually realized the error of his ways and posted a series of tweets calling out Starbucks for failing to admit the incident was racist during CEO Kevin Johnson’s appearance on “Good Morning America.”

“I was simply saying not to boycott before seeing what the company was going to do….after watching the interview that the CEO of @Starbucks did on @GMA I feel that they failed in doing what they should have done,” he added. “Now actions can be taken…”

Some quick research uncovered that Starbucks are NOT universally franchised (they prefer to run their own locations and only make exceptions sparingly). So even if your favorite one is run by Black people who personally treat you like the Queen of Sheba, that location is likely still run by corporate.

So boycotting Starbucks as an entity really is the only way to get justice.

The fact of the matter is, it turns out that all the folks who were screaming #BoycottStarbucks from day one were right.

Even grimy old Russell Simmons.

I just wish he’d spend more time learning about sexual consent and less time trying to play savior on social media.

Follow writer Blue Telusma on Instagram at @bluecentric

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