The #MeToo movement has proven to become very powerful in addressing female injustice and shutting down predatory behavior amongst powerful men toward women. #MeToo was a phrase stated by Tarana Burke, a Black woman, yet all the women who were coming forward that had been assaulted or victimized were primarily white women until now.
Directed and produced by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, On the Record presents the story of music executive Drew Dixon (known for her collaborations with Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston and the hip-hop doc THE SHOW) as she comes to grips with her decision to publicly accuse hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons of sexual assault in the New York Times, as well as, accusation against high-powered music mogul LA Reid for purposeful sabotage of her successful career (Dixon says that Reid wouldn’t allow her to sign Kanye West or John Legend – can. you even imagine?)
The best analogy for all it comes from Dixon herself, “…it’s like pressing play on the scariest movie you’ve ever seen and pausing it.” There’s also an explanation for why smart, savvy, business women like Dixon, Jenny Lumet, Sil Lai Abrams, Sheri Sher and more found themselves in a position of being a chew toy for men of power. Black women have a need from slavery and beyond to protect our men. Why? In American society Black men are seen as dangerous and Black women are afraid there will be dire consequences that haven’t been anticipated if they speak out and against. You are judged and seen as being a traitor. Then, you add fuel to the fire that those same Black men are being sexually aggressive. The same type of alleged sexual aggression that resulted in innocent young men like Emmet Till being lynched decades ago..
Then, you have powerful women like Oprah Winfrey, who was originally attached to the project (when it was Apple TV before moving to HBO Max) pulling out prior the doc’s debut at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Why? Contrary to rumors and according to a recent interview with her bestie Gayle King, Winfrey expressed that there needed to be some additional fact checking before unleashing this to the public. Consistent pressure from Simmons was not the reason for her departure.
As someone who worked in the music industry at that time, I, too had been a victim of sexual harassment from a high-powered industry executive. I, too, did not speak out for the aforementioned reasons. Why? Because, as a young black women on the rise in an industry run by men, I was confident no one would believe me…let alone assist me in bringing the truth forward.
Which begs this question. Do I believe Drew, Jenny Sheri and the 20 other women who have come forward with accusations of sexual harassment and assault are telling the truth? That is not for me to judge. What I do know is that just like the doc “Leaving Neverland,” there will be division amongst viewers. Only the parties involved know what the truth is. However, it’s not lost on me that to date there are no criminal charges against LA Reid or Russell Simmons and I can’t imagine Drew Dixon would blow up her entire life, legacy and reputation for an untruth.
After the New York Times article hit, LA Reid issued a statement saying all the allegations were false and in 2017 stepped down as CEO of Sony’s Epric Records amid complaints of sexual misconduct. Reid recently launched a new label after raising $75 million.
The difference between now and then is women are made as hell and aren’t taking it lying down (n pun intended). If you have been harassed or sexually assaulted, there are organizations like Black Women’s Blueprint Hotline (blackwomenblueprint.org) and RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline (onlinerainn.org) to assist women in these unfortunate situations.
On The Record is a candid, no-holds barred account of sexual misconduct at the highest levels in the record industry and it is my hope that after it streams on HBO Mox that those who have shenanigans are continued to be held accountable. After all, what done in the dark always comes to light.