I might be one of the few Black women in my circle and among circles like mine that actually doesn’t have a huge problem with Steve Harvey. Sure, I find his relationship advice a bit trite and some of his observations dismissive and offensive; but I also think he’s funny most of the time. And having seen what he does with young men and the mentoring he does at Disney every year, I see the good in him as well.
So yeah, Steve Harvey is problematic for sure. But honestly, he reminds me of a lot of Black men in his age range.
But when someone’s egregiously wrong, you just can’t ride for that.
And that’s what happened last week when Harvey, playing on of his characters, Sister Odell, started telling a story about a 34-year-old woman with a mental disability, complete with offensive noises and more.
Well, one mother, whose daughter is on the Autism spectrum was not happy about it. At.all. And after she dropped her children off at school that morning, she recorded this impassioned video message for Mr. Harvey and comedians like him.
I’ll transcribe some excerpts, but it’s best to watch the full nearly five minute video to get the full perspective.
For those who can’t watch, here are some of the highlights:
This is now my fourth time recording this video because I’m trying to keep it clean. I’m so pissed, it’s been laced with profanities. I want this video to be shared so I’m trying to keep it as clean as possible.
She describes the offense:
This morning, Steve Harvey, as Sister Odell, made a “joke” about Easter Sunday and going to church and something to the affect of the sister next to me has a daughter who is slow and she’s always blowing bubbles in the service. And then Shirley and all his crew are laughing…And then he says, ‘Oh yeah, they dress her in little pink dresses, and little bobby socks and she 34-years-old but got the mind of a four year old.
Then her emotional reaction
The fact that he is making this joke on such a public program, that disturbed me… I don’t understand why comedians still use people with special needs as their go-to joke to get laughs. Damon Wayans did it with “In Living Color,” when I was 9-years-old watching that show, even then I was like ‘Damn, this is really messed up.’ And I didn’t even have anyone in my family who had special needs. I was always taught that you don’t make fun of people who cannot change that about them… And over the years, I have realized that every comedian does it or has done it. Rickey Smiley does it all the time. I am no longer a Rickey Smiley fan because of this.
I just want Steve Harvey and all comedians to know that this is not funny. This is our life! I have a child with autism, which is a developmental delay, that means that that child who I take to church, who may enjoy blowing bubbles or playing with a toy to keep her calm, so I can get get the world. That is what I’m going to do. That’s the child you’re making fun of.
Get some other material. Why are you constantly making fun? I’m sorry we have to deal with this ‘Oh my gosh, we have kids with special needs and we’re so sensitive and we can’t take a joke.’ No! We can’t take a joke because this is our life. Stop making fun of people with special needs. It’s not funny. It is never funny. There’s no joke about it.
You have a perfect life. You have your family, you have your millions, you have Marjorie and all your kids. And they come on your show and tell you what a great dad you are…why do you have to do this? You don’t have to do this. You hosted “Family Feud,” you hosted your talk show, you have your morning show. Anything you want to do, you can do. You do not need to make fun of people with special needs. So stop it please, damn! Like, do you need me to write your material for you? Goddamn I don’t understand why you’re still doing this, it’s not funny…
And then she gets cut off.
According to the description on the YouTube account where this was originally posted, this mother wrote:
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS VIDEO!
Please LIKE, SHARE and COMMENT – I really want this to go as far as it can go!
Steve Harvey may not see it, nor even care to hear what I am saying, but there are TONS of people who need to hear this!
My phone stopped recording before I was done, but you get the point. (You didn’t miss anything in the end; just me crying before getting out of my car.)
Please help me spread the word to ALL comedians/comedienne’s that this practice is extremely hurtful to many members of the Special Needs community!
There has GOT to be other material out here!
I don’t even attend comedy shows anymore because I know that I’m going to hear foolishness like this from at least one comedian.
It has got to stop!
Thanks for listening.
#autismawareness #specialneeds #specialneedsawareness #steveharvey #thesteveharveymorningshow
It looks like Steve Harvey did get wind of the video…or perhaps the other comments expressing outrage.
He said the apology was sincere but I’m going to have to call b.s. Everyone knows a sincere apology doesn’t offer excuses or rationale for bad behavior. In fact, the best apologies take full responsibility and vow to do better. And Steve didn’t do any of that here. Saying that we all can be offended by comedy at times, suggests that he doesn’t understand the gravity of the situation. And I can only hope he sits with this for a little while longer.
But as for this crunk mother…I actually really like that she got so fired up at the very end. What she said, and the way she said it needed to be stated a long time ago. I’ve been watching “Comic View” since I was child and I can attest to the fact that far too often jokes about the special needs community come up. And it’s not only lazy, it’s incredibly hurtful for people who may know or are caring for someone else with special needs. What’s particularly damaging about all of this is the example it sets for the younger generation. As I said, I was a child watching “Comic View” and like this mother, I was taught that you don’t make fun of people, period, but especially people with special needs. Had I not been taught that and if I found humor in those jokes, I could have been like so many of my peers who took those jokes to school to use on children who did and didn’t live with special needs. The cycle perpetuates itself. As a parent of an able bodied and able-minded child, there are already worries and concerns about your child being accepted and respected by their peer group. I can’t imagine the worry, anxiety parents of children with special needs feel sending their children into school; but also, worrying that their children might face ostracism from adults who should know and do better.
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