Steve Harvey, Tookie Williams, and The Pink Poetry Nation
Jerome DeVonni Wilson © 2018
On May 9, 2017 I was awakened around 7:30 A.M. by a voice berating me right in my ear. This was a quaint occurrence in that after reading a very empowering book the night before, I went back to cover a few passages that struck a cord with me, one being:
“Being a condemned prisoner, I am viewed among the least able to qualify as a promoter of redemption and of peace. But the most wretched among society can be redeemed, find peace, and reach out to others to lift them up. Real redemption cannot be faked or intellectualized. It must be subjective: experienced, and then shared.”
The book was Blue Rage, Black Redemption written by the late Stanley Tookie Williams, who went from Crip co-founder to Nobel Peace Prize nominee before being executed by the state of California.
So to hear the voice of a familiar Black man ridiculing a sister for showing interest in a brother in prison whom she met by happenstance moved me to address an issue I’d been procrastinating for many months.
The brother Steve Harvey is very successful. . . at hosting talk and game shows, acting, authoring books, entrepreneurial aspects and having a radio talk show in which he often successfully expresses his opposition to sisters supporting brothers in prison — in any capacity. This morning was no different.
He told the woman — and his vast audience — that a man must be able to profess his love, as well as provide for and protect her. He told her that this brother would emerge from prison jobless and she’d have to take care of him, and even up until that point he could not provide for or protect her and therefore she was stupid for thinking of getting involved with him.
Harvey’s demeaning of Black men in prison and his dissing of sisters who want to be there for them is a dangerous stance, a symptom of a specific strand of arrogant ignorance. The prejudgmental kind. The kind where he’s harming brothers that proudly support him. Or rather, did at one time. . .
I’m quite sure the lawmakers and proponents of mass incarceration (slavery) truly adore Mr. Harvey because if the world were to adopt his viewpoint, the imprisoned would have less human contact and less hope which is a contributing factor to becoming shut out and anti-social.
Atop of the psycho-socio effects of Mr. Harvey’s backward position is the fact that a woman’s compassion has a higher propensity than the comradery of male peers to keep a brother upright and focused on improving their quality of life.
Due to the fact that Harvey’s only instructions to sisters regarding brothers in prison is to ostracize them, I often wonder what purpose his rebukes serve for him and from where do they derive?
If Malcolm Little went to prison and came out Malcolm X after reinventing himself spiritually and then continued to improve by soul searching — who is Harvey to write off every brother in prison?
He hasn’t a clue what’s in the minds and hearts of the unknown brothers he belittles. He hasn’t a clue. . .what inspiration, love, or wisdom an unknown brother can provide. He hasn’t a clue of the obstacles and hazards the brother can protect the sister from.
Yet what we know about Harvey is that: As a Black man he has no faith in the enslaved population of his own kind; he doesn’t want a sister to find companionship in a brother unless it’s under his precepts; and though he constantly speaks out against the endangered species that is US, as resourceful as he is with both media and moolah, we have limited information on what he does to help the brothers (he apparently detests) from succumbing to recidivism (not that he owes anyone anything).
I’ve been told by a woman whose views I value that I am a feminist, and I certainly am a prisoner so I’d like to offer a few questions for a woman to ask when dealing with a man in prison. This is done to provide assistance and protection to the women from the wrong men, and to the prisoners from being stereotyped by — the haters. Doing so also professes my love in struggle for both:
1) How does he spend his time, what has he accomplished since being locked up towards bettering himself?
2) What does he plan on accomplishing during the rest of his time in prison?
3) What are his plans upon returning to society?
A few flags would be:
1) Does he ask for money? (This is something that may be humbly accepted if and when offered.)
2) Has he ever been dishonest?
3) Has he asked you to do anything illegal?
Now, brother Steve, from this desolate tomb bereft of resonating family support, homie love, or an inkling of romance, I envisioned the Pink Poetry Nation for breast cancer awareness. I professed my love for all women and provided my labor to protect them by raising health consciousness. Furthermore, I’m giving fifty percent of the proceeds to the cause. Due to the fact that I still support you — your prejudice aside — I hereby implore you to:
1) Support the endeavor as publicly as you have discouraged sisters from supporting brothers in prison,
2) Match the amount of the donation given by PPN penny for penny, and
3) Make available from your pool of human resources someone to oversee the ordeal and make public the results for transparency to foster community faith in the endeavor.
I, like other brothers, mirror the ambitions of Tookie when he also penned in BRBR:
“To me it didn’t matter how prominent the individual. His or her achievements were of earthly means and therefore attainable for me and anyone else with the audacity to step forward. Who am I to even try? Just another Black man, grounded, reaching for the stars with soaring dreams.”
And that’s on everything I love.