Some folks just prefer to stay in their sunken place. Months after catching hell for appearing as a cultural prop at one of the president’s pre-inaugural Trump Tower photo opps, Steve Harvey is still defending the honor of a man who goes out of his way each day to show the world that he has none.
In the months since Harvey’s meeting at Trump Tower, the 45th president has publicly attacked Muslims, Mexicans and his predecessor, Barack Obama, with unfounded accusations and unabashed bigotry. So why is Steve Harvey, one of the few men of color with a national platform and direct line to America’s first orange president, still backing up Trump’s irresponsible and irrational decisions?
It’s not because Donald Trump cuts Steve Harvey’s checks. Yes, Steve managed to keep his Miss Universe hosting job despite famously mis-crowning 2016’s winner on an international broadcast. But Trump sold his ownership stake in the company in 2015. So there are no brownie points to earn or potential paychecks to maintain for Harvey in defending Trump’s foolishness.
But Steve does have a clear interest in maintaining America’s status quo, which rewarded his years of struggle with fame and riches. So is his call to fall in line and follow this lost leader just a self-serving talking point? Or he offering truly sound advice?
Harvey’s request that Snoop Dogg and other Black Americans respect the office of president, even if a narcissistic lunatic hi-jacked the job before our eyes, positions him as Trump’s trustiest Black friend not named Ben Carson. Kanye eventually came to his senses, as did the HBCU executives Trump finessed for a Black History Month photo pop in February. But why do Carson and Harvey continue to believe that their self-serving political views will help the masses of minority citizens with no hope of joining them in the one percent?
Their achievements and wealth speak volumes in some circles. But has Trump not proven the danger of allowing self-important rich men with no political experience to hack the system and input selfish policy decisions and irresponsible narratives about race, war and money? Every second Steve Harvey has spent on screen has been made him richer and more famous, but for all the laughs he’s given us over the years, what wisdom has he shared that makes his opinion on politics any more relevant than my Vietnam-vet father-in-laws?
The veterans, students and working folks in my life have seen through Trump’s facade from day one. Yet, Steve Harvey, a hard-working man who spent time boxing, delivering mail, selling insurance and cleaning carpets before breaking into the comedy world, is putting his name on the line to defend the honor of a trust fund baby who shamelessly rips off employees and customers while openly discriminating against people of color and shamelessly abusing women and children. Granted, Steve has seven kids to feed and put through college. But if the pressures of money can turn a homeless carpet cleaner into a tool of Trump’s war against the poor, who can be trusted to represent the masses on the other side?
Despite the concerns of his distant and immediate kinfolk, Harvey is clearly choosing his own self-interest over the greater good. His Think Like A Man book and movie franchise have enriched his pockets far more than they’ve enriched the minds of young women and men seeking guidance to navigate the 21st Century mating game. So why would we take anything Harvey says, on screen, in print or on his syndicated radio show, as anything more than a self-promoting soundbite or corporate sales pitch?
We shouldn’t. For the same reason we shouldn’t respect Donald Trump; At least until he resigns and apologizes for pretending to be a competent commander-in-chief when he’s really a privileged draft-dodger whose idea of leadership is following cable news and tweeting half-baked opinions without checking for facts or typos. And many Americans have already bought into his classless displays of power that they foolishly believe his privileged ignorance protects and justifies their own.
Respect isn’t earned with money, manipulation or achievements. It’s earned with time, effort and self-sacrifice. Until every citizen understands and believes that, America will never be great. Because unless you’ve caught one of the many breaks that molded great American leaders like Steve Harvey and his good friend in the Oval Office, it probably never was.