Steve Harvey's got a black woman problem. After rising to fame in the '90s on a mediocre sitcom, the comedian held on to the spotlight by trumpeting himself as a relationship expert with advice every lonely black woman needs to hear. His reinvention from comic to dating guru did wonders for his career. Harvey's appeared on shows ranging from Oprah to Nightline advising black women not to end up wart-covered hags by lowering their standards or chucking them completely. Forget about cute, college-educated men. Save them for Katherine Heigl and Kate Hudson. Smart, successful black women need to turn their attention to old, ugly guys who may not even have GEDs because, face it, no one else wants them.
Of course, I'm being snarky here, but the above description pretty much sums up Harvey's words of wisdom to black ladies. Accordingly, I never ran out to my local bookstore to grab his best-selling book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man or the newly released, Straight Talk No Chaser: How to Find, Keep and Understand a Man. The titles of the books say a lot, but so does Steve Harvey in appearances to promote his works. I still cringe remembering the episode of Oprah where someone asked him to explain why men cheat, and he said that they do so because "they can" and because there are always women out there willing to cheat with them. Okay, so women's moral failings are the issue here, not men's?
Now Steve Harvey's making headlines once again—not because of his underwhelming relationship advice but because his ex-wife Mary has called him out for cheating on her and leaving her with nothing when they divorced in 2005. Who knows if her allegations are true, but they've certainly undermined Harvey's credibility. This is good news for black women, I think. As Dr. Boyce Watkins writes at TheLoop21.com:
Steve Harvey is a comedian, and not necessarily someone who should be positioned as a relationship guru for the African American community. …The break down of the black family in America derives from a series of 400-year old problems…We all need to see real psychologists, not comedians, in order to solve our problems.
In all fairness, Steve Harvey has fielded his fair share of relationship questions on his morning radio show. Given this, he's not totally clueless, but his insistence on pigeonholing men and women into stereotypical roles—chicks are complicated, guys aren't—and his use of the single, black woman as a ploy to gain authority as a relationship expert make him suspect. Successful black women don't need to be told to toss out their standards. They grow up hearing not to expect too much in life and to ask for even less. It's time to kill that noise.