This is the first week of Black folks’ holiest time of the year, Black History Month. As Civil Rights heroes’ sacrifices are remembered, Blacks and white folks are at their best and unified. The finest and brightest are trotted out for twenty eight days before mayhem resumes March 1. White folks give Blacks all the air time they are going to get for the year in February. I was going to blog about the many local unsung heroes that work tirelessly every day of the year to honor the past, deal with present day challenges, and help prepare young people for the future who often hidden in the community. My thoughts were thrown out after l heard Tom Joyner tell Mary Harvey that her ex-hubby, radio host Steve Harvey, was “doing good in the community”. The ugly history of Steve and Mary Harvey’s marriage that has spilled over to You Tube, Twitter, blogs, and now morning drive time is history of sorts that reveals much about the community of color.
I have often shared with individuals that greatest influences in my life were my grandparents. I was raised by country people who believed strongly that what is said and done in their house, stayed in their house. But living in Nashville has taught me that my grandparents thinking come with a price. Interacting with individuals with bottled emotions from yesteryear has led to a subgroup of folks who can come unglued socially because they have unresolved wounds and hurts. Black folks DONOT embrace counseling; they are told by church leaders to pray about it. So many go to church and shout. Steve and Mary Harvey’s very public feud is a byproduct of many issues that face the community that is glossed over by Essence cover stories.
Before I go any further, let me confess, Steve Harvey is an unimpressive comic to me and his wife shows a martyr’s loyalty- till-I- die mentality that I loathe. With that out of the way, let’s move on to the viral video “he said, she said” saga that has gone mainstream.
On January 31, Mary Harvey sat in Tom Joyner’s studio to tell him why she has gone public with her private family drama. Tom is Steve Harvey’s morning show competitor and friend. Tom waded into family counseling waters by declaring:
“I did not invite you on the show to continue talking about your personal business. There are more things that are of paramount importance to our community. We want to deal with this and move on."He stressed how important Steve was to the community and the community did not need to be distracted by their public spectacle. Hmm. Aren’t you glad Tom does not have a counseling degree? Anyway, Tom said, “I just hate mess”. Never mind the fact that Tom discusses mess everyday on the show except his closes friends’ mess. “Oh, oh, oh, that is how it is on the Tom Joyner Morning Show”. I love Tom even when I do not agree with him. Mary Harvey stood her ground with Tom and replied,
“It took a long time for me to get to this point. The reason I’ve been silent this entire time was because I did take into consideration what it would do to both of our families, what it would do to the community. Keeping quiet hasn’t served me physically. It hasn’t served our son. I have suffered physically because of it. I’m not in good health right now.”Tom offered to broker a truce with her and Steve.
Mary Harvey said her speaking out was not about receiving another settlement, “This is not about money,” she repeated several times. She wants an apology. She went on to say,
“I think the apology should be given to the women who have been deceived into buying the books and who have perceived him as being a pillar of the community.”(I would want a refund if I bought one of his books but that’s me). She went on to say that Steve’s treatment of her was equivalent to rape. I don’t know if she has been raped but that was her comparison.
Steve and Mary were divorced in 2005. They were together for 16 years, married for ten of those years. They have a 13 year old son who lives with Steve full time and is not in contact with his mother. Steve is married to his third wife, Marjorie, who Mary said was his mistress when they were married. Mary claims she suffered mental and physical abuse from Steve. After reaching her breaking point, she left the marriage. She also states Steve’s lawyer cheated her in settlement from the divorce. They used the same family lawyer.(That was dumb). She mentioned the number of pills she was taking because of numerous health and mental issues. What was not said on the TJMS was why Mary decided to go the You Tube exposure route and posted videos that millions can’t stop viewing. Steve and his third wife posed for January Essence cover and in the article he miscalculated Mary’s silence. Here is Mary's statement about the cover story.
My name was in that article. The article said in Steve’s words that ‘I’m finally happy and that I haven’t been this happy since 2005 and I was in the company of the wrong person.’ My name mentioned in any way was offensive to me; why mention me at all? I would think that he and Marjorie have plenty to talk about, as opposed to bringing me into an article that has nothing to do with me.
Steve Harvey is a household name, makes millions from his clothing line and two bestselling books, TV and church appearances, has a pending deal with Oprah, a radio show in 60 markets and God knows what other revenue streams. Steve has a team of lawyers and staff to do his bidding but he could not resist making a dig about his ex-wife. Hell has no fury like a woman that has been belittled in Essence! Mary decided to show the world the other side of Steve Harvey. The future mogul, author, radio host, family man and relationship guru family issues did not stay in the house. Penniless and broke, Mary sat before a two dollar camera and posted three You Tube videos. That was how she came to everyone’s attention including Steve Harvey’s legal team. Because of the videos, Steve Harvey is now suing Mary to regain his Essence cover story image back. Sounds like Mary has started to think like a man. She has no lawyers advising her or agents booking her but she is making the rounds and is in high demand. When I heard her in January, I was reminded of the power of a dam’s broken levee. Rarely can someone out swim a dam overflowing it banks. The ugliness of Harveys’ union and divorce is out there. Their real life mayhem gives us a peep into Black culture issues that usually get swept under the rug. So what does all of this have to do with us? Nothing. But there is much to learn from this sad epic.
Nothing is wrong with highlighting success. But as a people, we idolize individuals quickly and will label an idiot a community leader without hesitation. We are a forgiving group that will overlook obvious character flaws for the sake of a feel good moment. Folks will shut down Black women who are traditionally the backbone of the family and the laborers in the community if one dares to challenge Black folks’ leadership identification system while Black women have been trained subconsciously to be the sacrificial lambs for the family, the community or a man’s reputation. Remember how folks turned on the women who were underage girls at the time over R. Kelly? Or the very recent Bishop Long’s scandal that started with muscle shirt texts? The cries from the saints were deafening. R. Kelly is back performing and folks are still packing the pews at New Birth. R. Kelly is supposedly writing a book. Folks ignore the fact that he has publicly admitted he is illiterate.
Maybe history can be made by looking at the criteria for what “doing good in the community” means. An honest examination of our value system is long overdue. There are ways to bring up community leaders without creating monsters. Every group has hero worshipitis but when it happens with color people, the backlash is felt by all. No one is perfect but we must quit playing crazy when it comes to dealing with real issues that we face daily. As we honor the heroes of past, let’s study more about their characters that made them the men and women that we should celebrate 365 days a year. Hopefully, next Black History Month, we can celebrate by using You tube to talk about soaring graduation rates among Black males, decrease in teen pregnancies, an increase in folks being hired in our community and more entrepreneurs living their dreams . Now that would be news worthy of being highlighted and truly honor the proud heritage of those who have broken so many barriers regarding race relations in our country throughout the year.
The Harvey's photo credit: I don't know but I couldn't find very many of her smiling