Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Steve Harvey Is Going To Help Paula Deen Mentor Black Boys, I Can’t Cosign On This One.

October 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Ent., News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( Do you think that Paula Deen would be a good mentor for black boys?  Steve Harvey thinks that she would be.  Harvey brought Deen forth to the public after she was shamed for being exposed for using the n-word and disrespecting black people in a terrible way.  Deen is going to make an appearance on Harvey’s talk show in October as part of her plan to redeem her tattered brand and start the money train rolling all over again.

According to published reports, Deen is going to bring her excellent cooking skills to the boys at the Steve Harvey Mentoring Camp.  This is where Harvey gathers 100 boys without fathers for a weekend and teaches them the fundamentals of manhood.   The camp is one of the most progressive efforts by any black celebrity to help with the very serious fatherless problem we have in America.  Men without male role models have a hard time growing up to become adequate fathers, husbands and leaders in their communities, so the camp is a wonderful thing.

Paula and her team has agreed to take as many boys as I want to fly down to Savannah and teach them culinary skills,” Harvey says on the show. “That, to me, is how you get something from something. There has to be a good behind everything,” Harvey said in a press release about the event. 

When reacting to the negative response that Harvey might receive for his actions, he also mentioned “that I don’t give a damn.”

I must confess that if the ABC Network were to object to Steve Harvey’s actions, he probably would give a damn.  His words are similar to those of Stephen A. Smith (another ABC employee), who received criticism for bashing the black community on-air a few months ago.   One thing I wish is that African Americans working for white-owned media outlets would show as much respect for the black community as they give to the networks that employ them.  Both Stephen and Steve are successful black men in their own right, but they can’t spend their careers only hearing the voices that have the loudest “cha-chings” attached to them.  This is unfair, disingenuous and could be considered disrespectful.steve-harvey-2014

This story admittedly pains me to the core, because I love Steve Harvey so much and probably don’t dislike Paula Deen as much as everyone else.  The truth is that, behind closed doors, people say quite a few things that are racist or at least politically incorrect, and part of me wants to believe that Deen is sincerely seeking to prove herself both personally and in the public eye.

But here’s where Steve and I part ways.  My beloved grandmother Felicia, just a few months before she died of cancer last year, called me on the phone when I was going to make an appearance on CNN with Rev. Jesse Jackson to discuss the Paula Deen situation.  My grandmother was always my greatest counsel and my first Finance Professor.  I speak about her regularly, and featured her in a recent article on “The 10 Commandments of Black Economic Empowerment.” 

I talked to my grandmother about the Deen appearance on CNN.  When I asked if there should be room for forgiveness, her answer was a very passionate and unforgiving “no!”  She then spent 30 minutes talking about what it was like spending so many decades of her life being unfairly forced to cater to the “Miss Paulas” of the world:  The arrogant, aloof, bigoted and disrespectful white women who thought they were your best friend, but did nothing but spit in your face.   There was a social hierarchy that my grandmother had to endure for much of her life, one that was painful, degrading and exceedingly dehumanizing.

I was suprised to see my grandmother react to the matter in such an emotional and firm way, and I even spoke about the conversation during her funeral just a few months later.  When I replay that conversation over and over in my mind, I remember the pain in her voice, which reminded me of how a trauma victim sounds when describing a horrible murder.  The trembling anger of one of the strongest women I’ve ever known in my life really had an effect on me.

So, it is out of respect for my recently deceased grandmother that I have to say that I disagree with Steve’s decision to work with Paula Deen, and I wish he would reconsider.   In fact, I truly believe that, deep down, Steve doesn’t want to do this either.

My guess is that much of this has to do with money, for the same reasons that many of us might invite our racist boss to our house for dinner.  I suspect that some higher-ups at Steve’s network are pushing him to leverage his credibility with the black community to position Paula so that she can take opportunities within the network.  I can’t even say that I blame Steve Harvey for this one, since we all have to choose our battles.  Even I loved going to Paula Deen’s restaurant before the controversy erupted, it was honestly one of the best I’ve ever visited in my life.

But after hearing my grandmother talk about the pain of living through decades of humiliating racism at the hands of women like Paula Deen, I have to say that this is one time that all of us have to draw the line.  Paula may deserve to be forgiven for what she did, but that doesn’t mean she deserves to keep making money as if nothing happened. There are scores of other talented African American chefs in the world who could be positioned as mentors for the boys at Steve Harvey’s camp, and had Paula Deen not been caught referring to black people as n*ggers, she wouldn’t be going to the camp either.  Additionally, I’m just not quite sure what kind of mentorship fatherless black boys can or should receive from a white woman who has spent much of her life thinking of them as less than human.

I still have a tremendous amount of respect for Steve Harvey, but this decision pains me to the core.  When I see Paula Deen, I see the struggles of my dead grandmother.  And I would die before I let these people get away with what they did to the woman I loved so much.

But the truth is that all of our grand parents had to endure terroristic humiliation from women like Paula Deen, and some might consider it to be disrespectful to their memory for us to partner up with the very same bigots who spent decades treating our ancesters like they were worthless animals.  If Steve were to insult white women in the same way that Paula degraded the black community, he’d be back to hosting a local radio show.

There are times when black men must disagree, and this is one of them.  Paula Deen needs to stay at home where she belongs, so my grandmother can rest in peace.  There are plenty of others that Steve Harvey can work with, and he doesn’t have to seek out reformed bigots in order to help black boys.

By the way – here’s a picture of my grandmother (Felicia) when she and I went to visit the president of Morehouse College last year (I think she thought he was cute, so I was hoping to make a love connection).   Thanks for indulging my desire to write about her, I miss that woman every single day.  She is all that I am made of.  If you’re as lucky as I am, you have a grandmother you love this much too.


Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins 

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  For more information, please visit



13 Responses to “Steve Harvey Is Going To Help Paula Deen Mentor Black Boys, I Can’t Cosign On This One.”
  1. Tammy says:

    Steve Harvey will do anything for money. I’m truly not surprised by this. I think this is a poor move on his part. Why can’t he just hire the everyday Joe or Jane? There are so many people out of work. Need I say many who can cook -and are not rich…. Why try to pick up and rebound a racist when she knocked herself down? Once a racist always a racist. Steve needs to drive down one of those dark roads in the deep south for a wake up call. In fact, he can take Oprah with him. I’m trying to figure out who falls over white people more; Steve or Oprah?

  2. LeVar Smith says:

    Dr.Watkins that’s why I wrote Dollars and Sense…because to make a dollar to sell your people out just doesn’t make sense

  3. Mrpatate says:

    reality_check: it’s called passive resistance, samething as what julie mentioned stockholm syndrome it’s basically the samething a group or a person being passive to the resistance and marginalization in front of you and the defacto socalled blacks of note who are put their by the system to program their target group black folk like oprah, steve harvey, tom joiner, jayz beyonce, are all the same they sell black america on remaining passive to the resistance that is keeping them stuck at the bottom, and in a state of confusion and a number of posts show that confusion and passive resistance at play.

  4. reality_check says:

    Whew! I have read an eye-ful on my half-hour on this site. The reader’s of this site are some of the sorriest black folk’s I have ever seen. So many of them are supporting that chicklet-toothed buffoon Steve Harvey in his support of Paula Dean, it’s unreal.

    You all just don’t get it. I was with the Nigerian poster until he showed his support for Harvey and said racism “was” and he’s going to teach his children that racism doesn’t exist. To that, I say good luck with that, bro. Whether you want to acknowledge something does not mean it ceases to exist. You may not want to acknowledge gravity either, but go jump from the 10th floor of an office building and see how you will meet it’s acquaintance. Same goes for racism. I agree that racism shouldn’t prevent blacks from achieving, but we have to understand the rules of the game to win in it. Common sense.

    You all just don’t get it. This is a repeated offense with black people. When we get a platform to affect change, we typically use it to do the opposite. Paula Dean is no more qualified than any other BLACK chef, yet that buffoon Harvey chose her (of all people) to teach the black men at his camp.

    Harvey doesn’t fool me, he’s there to do those black men a disservice. I wish many more of our people would wake up and see what’s going on.

    One more thing: it’s amazing to me how blacks who have been terrorized under white supremacy, be it slavery in the Americas or colonization in Africa, seem to have such a soft spot and forgiving spirit when it comes to white people. The same people have oppressed and CONTINUE to oppress them and their children. UNREAL!

  5. Realman2 says:

    This is really bad, but many blacks in Hollywood or in a typical job will often have to do some tap dancing for whites just to keep their job. I don’t approve of this behavior but an intelligent thinking black person knows how to maneuver around this kind of mess, and keep their self respect.

  6. Amon Ra says:

    I am a black man from Africa, Nigeria to be precise and I see and hear a lot about what black people go through in America, and the whole Racism issue and how bad it really is…

    I know a lot of you will ask me to shut up because I know nothing about racism as I have never been racially assaulted or abused, I take it. One thing is certain, and that’s that we can apply some logic to this. The man who wrote this story inherited some unforgiveness from his grandmother and so he feels he has the right as a black man to be unforgiving.. you are making a big mistake my brother.

    I wonder what black people in America have learned from Mandela.. I can assure you you guys have no idea what south Africans had to go through, Apartheid and shit.. I feel sad when black people have to play the racism card some times, it doesn’t feel good. Black people need to work harder to achieve enough success to feel better about themselves. The truth is we have a lot of black people not putting their minds and creativity to good use, the black race needs to engage in the same things as white people whether they let you play or not, we have to crash the party and enjoy it too.

    There’s tons of knowledge black people can use as an escape. See black people have nothing else to prove, black people have proven that they can equally compete in every field as white people. I am not shyng away from the fact that there no very terrible white people just as you have terrible black people. This Generation cannot burden itself upon the things that happened in the past, the black people cannot relive the past, the black people cannot blame the white people forever for where they are today. There’s enough inspiration for the black race to be greater that it already is.

    We also need to stop seeing ourselves as a “Team” #TeamBlackPeople, it spoils the fun. Whatever black people intend to achieve has to benefit the world. Paula Deen deserves forgiveness and Steve Harvey is a great guy for giving her that platform know the shots that will be fired at him. My kids don’t deserve to inherit unforgiveness, I want my kids to learn what racism ‘was’, I don’t wish for them to have to be sensitive and expect every white person to do something racist. I would prefer the black people move to end All kinds of violence and push for education and skills acquisition. Black people cannot move to another planet so we can have our ‘Black Space’ and watch only black tv and marry only black men and women.. the concept of the universe is that we mix and evolve.

    The black race really needs to become immune to racist.. I consider racists to be illiterate and stupid, nothing more. Calling a black man a monkey should not have to make a black man mad, monkeys are very great animals with advanced attributes.. black people need to build a mind that ignores racial slurrs and the ‘N’ word. Maybe black people need to stop using the word Nigga… everybody calls every Nigga here in Africa, we know the history of the word, but the sting has been removed, it has become neutral.

    With hip hop being really big at the moment the Nigga word is on every song, the white kids who sing along don’t even have to feel ‘Racial’ about it, they just sing it. Let’s Move forward.

  7. Julie says:

    It seems that too many Blacks suffer from the Stockholm syndrome!!!

  8. siri chatman says:

    I agree with guy ( and guy by the way, I think it was 30 years ago when paula used the word nigger, and she was being held by gunpoint). I also believe she’s sincere in apologizing. I’m aware of the problems of the pass with racism. I have elderly people in my family that have gone through hell back in the day, and these same black people have learned forgiveness. Now if you die with unforgiveness in your heart, you are going to have a problem on the day of judgement. I ‘ve been called the insulting word nigger before, it was like being hit with a bolder. But to forgive freed me.this woman is trying to move on with her life and maybe doing this not only helps these young men but her also.

  9. Kitt says:

    Perhaps Deen will dress the Black boys as butlers to serve her guests at her next soiree. She can finally have that all Black servers theme she wanted so much!

  10. Ford says:

    …How about being a little less BLACK. I hear nigger all the time. Music, movies, walmart, from the car next to me populated by black girls, from the car next to me populated by black males, from the car next to me populated by white males or females and from an older black male in casual conversation. So Paula Dean called the person who pointed a gun at her a nigger. Shes from the south. It fits. Like George Carlin’s meanings of the word shit. Nigga, nigger, fuckin nigger, just niggers etc. Its ubiquitous. Being white I reserve it for those who dick with me. I have heard from both whites and blacks that there are black people and there are niggers and they aren’t the same. It ain’t going away any time soon.

  11. I totally agree with this article, there are plenty of great Black chefs who could use the tv exposure and would love to give back to the community. It’s sad how we reward people for saying what they really feel, when it’s negative and focused toward us. This is why we need our own networks, and hopefully know better than to promote a person who obviously, is focused on getting her business empire back to the way it was. I wish we were that forgiving when it comes to our community.

    Black Unity is the solution, is the plan

  12. Guy Benfield says:

    First off I want to say how sorry I am for the loss of your Grandmother. But I have to say I disagree about Paula Deen. I feel that she is sincere and she is truly sorry. She made a mistake 20 years ago and is being punished for it today. She’s apologized more than once and has seemed to sincerely mean that she is sorry. I feel like as American’s if we don’t have to power to forgive, believe in someone and forget, what do we have? I support Paula Deen and I feel like she is a wonderful person.

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