Some people know things.
Many people, however, are able to eke out a more-than-modest living by convincing people that they know things. They aren’t blessed with the gift of knowledge as much as they are blessed with the gift of charismatic sophistry. Politicians call it “spin.” Poets describe it as “silver-tongued.” Niggas who smoke Newports call it “a nice mouthpiece.” This distinct brand of slick-mouthing is often practiced by preachers, psychics and a particular con-man-turned president.
And also, Steve Harvey.
For years, we have watched the third-funniest King of Comedy (which I think makes him a duke of comedy ... or maybe a viceroy of comedy) slowly transform himself from a slightly amusing mustachioed jester into a bible-thumping, self-improvement guru who hocks 7th-grade-level self-help books to church ladies on how they can make themselves worthy of love by putting their vaginas on a rigorous 90-day, do-not-fuck regimen.
Steve Harvey is not so much offensive as he is fraudulent. This is a man who made millions selling the blueprint on how to achieve everlasting love while trading in wives for slimmer, lighter-skinned upgrades. This is the man who couldn’t wait to “increase his territory” by cozying up next to the white supremacist-in-chief, Donald Trump, even after people warned him that it was not a good idea.
This “man of the people” once told his employees not to approach him at work because—as their employer—he didn’t have time for their bullshit. This is the man who espoused the principles of selling out by telling Mo’Nique that integrity was less important than money. This is a man who professes the virtues of Christianity while once insulting a Flint, Mich., resident by telling him to enjoy his “nice glass of brown water.”
And not only is Harvey a wretched, factory-refurbished respectability fucktroll whose comedic repertoire is limited to pregnant pauses between second and third strikes on Family Feud, but he also doesn’t know things.
But he sounds like he does.
Take, for instance, this clip from a recent show whose air date I refuse to look up because if I view one more Steve Harvey clip, I might have to harakiri myself with jelly-stained plastic cutlery in the office sink and who’s gonna clean up all this blood if I seppuku myself with the bagel spork?
“Rich people don’t sleep eight hours a day,” Harvey yells, as if he is saying some shit that people don’t know. “Dat’s a third of your life. It ain’t but 24 hours in a day. You cannot be sleep eight hours a day.”
The Warren Buffet of bullshit goes on to explain how sleeping makes you poor:
You can’t live in L.A. and wake up at 8 o’clock in the morning. It’s 11 o’clock on the East Coast. The stock market been open two hours. They already making decisions about your life and yo ass is sleep. The Bible says “He who loves to sleep and the folding of hands, poverty will set upon you like a thief in the night.”
Some people know things.
Steve Harvey, on the other hand, is stupid.
Let’s be clear. Steve Harvey works hard. Not including his side hustle as the T.D. Jakes of translating what these sanctified bitches want from a nigga, Harvey also moonlights as a game show host, a television producer, a talk show host, a radio personality and he apparently owns a special-event pimping company that offers its services at the Kentucky Derby and New Year’s Eve parties.
Harvey, like many rich and successful people who have sequestered themselves in a bubble surrounded by self-affirming people who dare not look them in the eye, seems to have convinced himself that his success is not a product of good fortune. Instead, it is solely the result of his hard work. In the minds of people who don’t believe in privilege, luck or circumstance, they count their blessings as evidence of their talent, perseverance and intelligence.
They worked hard and they became wealthy, therefore, they believe that most rich people work hard. And if one believes wholeheartedly in this premise, then, conversely, they must also believe that people who aren’t rich don’t work as hard as them.
Now, I admittedly have not cataloged the number of things that Steve Harvey knows. I don’t even have enough information about the inner-workings of Steve Harvey’s brain to conclude that I know more than he does. But as a trained economist, I can tell you that poverty has more to do with intergenerational wealth, wage inequality, historical influences and predatory capitalism than it has to do with one’s willingness to memorize 2,500-year-old Bible verses and wake up a few minutes early.
On this matter specifically, Steve Harvey doesn’t know shit.
To believe what Steve Harvey says, one would first have to believe that white people inherently work harder than everyone else. Fifteen percent, or one out of every seven white families, are worth more than a million dollars. Meanwhile, only one out of every 50 black families—less than two percent—have millionaire status, according to a Washington Post analysis of Federal Reserve data. A recent report by the Institute for Policy Studies shows that the median white family has 41 times more wealth than the median black family.
So, according to Harvey’s logic, white people wake up a whole lot earlier than those lazy shiftless negroes.
Contrary to what Steve the Easter suit salesman would have you believe, the one thing that most rich people have in common is that they didn’t grow up poor. Only two of the top 50 Americans on Forbes’ most recent list of billionaires grew up in poor or working-class families. Sixty percent of the people on the 2012 list grew up “in substantial privilege,” Inequality.org reported.
To be fair, we can’t dictate how much our parents earn, the family to which we are born or the circumstances we have no control over. Therefore, there is value in spreading the message that hard work pays off. And there are habits that can help people become wealthy. But that is an entirely different message from what Steve Harvey espoused.
He didn’t explain what rich people do. Instead, he told you poverty-stricken, sleepy-eyed nitwits what the superior rich people like himself, don’t do. Specifically, they don’t act like us lazy, well-rested motherfuckers.
Also, Steve is dead wrong.
Research shows that poor people sleep less than rich people; black people sleep less than any other race and most people—65 percent according to a 2013 Gallup poll—sleep seven hours or less on an average night. Then again, instead of relying on snake-oil hustling half-preachers or the book of Proverbs, I used data from the National Center for Health Statistics, Gallup, the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the National Sleep Center and the Centers for Disease Control.
Steve Harvey is perpetuating the new negro “merit myth” that marginalized people are held back because of their work ethic and lack of motivation, and not because they live in a country fueled by the fact that, for some people to be rich, a lot of people have to remain poor. I’ve heard the same self-hating, internalized white supremacist rhetoric too many times from shuck-and-jiving simpletons tap dancing to the beat of “them white folks’ ice is so cold because they make it like this ...”
The theory that wealthy people work harder and poverty is the result of too many naps is a stupid assumption rooted in egomaniacal arrogance. Harvey’s bubble-wrapped, insulated narcissism has deluded him into believing that he is successful because he is funnier, smarter and harder working than everyone else. He is rich because he is an early riser who greets each day by reciting his favorite Bible verse:
“You broke-ass niggas need to wake up”
Now that’s just stupid.