Steve Harvey, Comedian With No Sense of Black History

The following is an excerpt from a May 12, 2012 blog I did on the Steve Harvey Radio Show that took over a very popular morning slot in the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Area
Don’t get me wrong here; I like Steve, the comedian. He is just like any comedian. Some comments are funny and others are not. In a different venue, the entire act may (his morning radio show) have been hilarious although not politically correct.
It seems to me, judging by the content of the Steve Harvey Morning Show; there must be an assumption on the part of the shows’ stars and producers, that their listeners are idiots. When you think about it, Comedian Steve Harvey makes an on-stage living at being this down-home country dude who is keeping it real while being exposed to the big city ways of the world.  He tackles each experience by using his home-grown upbringing and common sense in a comedic manner.  In other words, he highlights and states the obvious. It’s all good--in a different venue.’ End.

The point is my opinion of the show and Steve hasn’t changed.  I can’t tell you how many times my wife and I had conversations and differed with the tactics and antics of Steve on his morning radio show. In particular, how he practically embarrasses people who call in with a question about love and life, in general. At that time, you can tell by listening how serious they were, hoping that he would provide them feedback in which they can apply to the problem. What they received instead was a comedic beat down from an individual who is a comedian first, second and third, and a socialist or humanitarian somewhere after number ten.
To say that Steve has miscast himself maybe goes a bit too far. But if we are keeping it real like he seems to think he always is; he is not true to himself. In an example like the one above, he doesn’t seem to know when to be a comic and when a question asked deserves a thoughtful and sobering response.

This is what happened with his recent statement of “I don’t give a damn about slavery.” That it was said during this month of Black History was equally troubling and insensitive.
The subject matter came up during the “Ask Steve” segment on his network television show. A North Carolina white lady asked his advice on how she should converse with history enthusiasts when she may not be familiar with the subject matter. The lady is not to blame, for she was asking an innocent question and was expecting a thoughtful answer. Or at the very least, she was expecting advice that she could consider. Does this sound familiar? At any rate, his answer to her question was a rant in which he stated, “I look right at the person and say; I don’t really care for slavery.” He then did a short comedic victory trot to the side while absorbing the laughter coming from the audience. Laughter from the primarily dominant white audience energized him while thinking he scored a major laugh line.
He followed up with, “When I’m sitting around a bunch of socialites and they start talking about the past and stuff, that’s my line. I just say it and walk off. I have my little drink in my hand, I just say it. I don’t really care for slavery, and walk off. I don’t give a damn if they’re talking about Christopher Columbus. I don’t give a damn if they’re talking about a treaty.”

By now, he was deep into his comedic self and added, “I don’t give a damn if they’re talking about an amendment, a bill. I don’t care what the subject is. It could be prohibition.  I don’t care what the subject is. When you’re saying it and I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, my favorite line is, I don’t give a damn about slavery.’”

As one would expect, reaction from the black community was swift. Some were surprised, as I am sure most of us who like and admire his accomplishments in the world of entertainment.  Frankly I must admit, I was too until reminding myself of the real Steve. The internet chatter lit up. Homeboys shouted loud and clear, we always knew Steve was full of #**%%$. Some of his fans tried to put a spin on what he said but found themselves exasperated at the thought of what was said.
 I for one don’t expect any serious comments to come out of his mouth without some type of comedic slant. Unfortunately, his rant was trivializing a period in black history where nothing was funny about the way slaves were brought here and kept enslaved up through Emancipation Proclamation. Any and everybody knows there was an entire bloody United States of America Civil War fought to rid our nation of this despicable treatment of an entire race of people. And let’s not even go into the Jim Crow period that followed, so this is not a funny subject.  So most jokes about that period in front of black folks may garner a polite smile, but to repeat, the subject matter is not funny. 

The next day, making it worse, Steve Harvey, forever trying to be the street sage, went on defense by stating some idiotic statement that simply meant those who are complaining about his statements are “Haters.” It is a term he likes to use when he doesn’t know how to answer criticism directed at him.

In my opinion, he could have immediately come out and said. I am so sorry. It was a stupid joke and I was wrong to make light of the slavery era. That is not the way I want to be perceived. He then could have done something meaningful to show he meant that he was sorry. But that type of thought process is not in Steve. He has shown numerous times he can dish it out but have a hard time accepting the fact that he might be wrong. Not mistaken, just wrong, in this case. Anyone who has heard how he berates people calling into his morning radio show or even some of the staff, including his nephew (Tommy), have heard the real Steve.

Of course, we know he is not the only black person that doesn’t want to hear about slavery, the Jim Crow era, the civil rights movement, or even hear about today’s incidents.  National occurrences like the Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, or Eric Garner deaths at the hands of policemen. Some just don’t want to deal with the reality of it all. That is until it hits their house or family. That particular trait is not solely owned or practiced by black people. It seems to be an American notion, maybe even a human concept. Some people just don’t want to be concerned with life’s problems until it affects them. Then all hell breaks loose in most cases 

Just as a reminder, Black History didn’t start when Africans were kidnapped or sold into slavery. Students of the Bible will quickly tell you, black people have walked this earth contributing to mankind all throughout its history.  
Dr. Boyce Watkins, of Your Black, wrote an excellent piece about Mr. Harvey’s comments, reaction and provided his opinion of Steve. As for me, I am just a black man with a voice who also wanted to give my opinion too.
Peace, make it a day in which Jesus Christ would be proud of you,
Codis Hampton II
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