Higher Ground

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  • The TJMS is a lot of things to a lot of people, but mainly, it’s a source for entertainment, news, inspiration, information and comedy. That’s a tall order. And on any given day, we can hit our mark in all areas or fall short – and trust me, which of the two depends on who you ask.

    A lot of the measuring of how we do comes to us almost instantly from the Text Tom Club. When we began the show with a discussion about the unrest in Egypt, some of the texters said they weren’t interested. A lot of you wanted to hear more about the “Celebration of Gospel” on BET and Whitney Houston’s weight gain. Later on the show, we interviewed Mary Harvey, Steve Harvey’s ex-wife.

    Before the interview even took place, my staff and I knew that there was no way that everyone would be satisfied, and we were right. Here was a woman who was once married to a high-profile man and, following an ugly divorce, decided to ignore the judge’s gag order and take her case viral. After dropping three video clips on YouTube that received more than a half-million hits in a couple of days, most of black America, for sure, had heard her version of the story. But to re-cap, she claimed that Steve Harvey cheated, turned her son against her and left her homeless.

    We invited Mary on our show not to throw more accusations Steve’s way or attack her character. Most of our audience had the entire weekend to discuss the video and form their own opinions about who they felt was right or wrong. My goal for inviting Mary on the show was to try to figure out to stop the ugliness from spreading any farther than it already had.

    Divorce is rampant in the African-American community. The divorce rate for African-Americans is twice as high than that of white and Hispanic Americans. Throw in the pressures of being an entertainer or professional athlete, and the stats are even worse. That’s just a reality. What doesn’t have to be a reality is dragging mates through the mud.

    Like it or not, as African-Americans in the spotlight, we have a responsibility not just to ourselves and our families, but our community. It hurt me to the core to see Steve and Mary’s private business put out there for the entire world to see. Not just because Steve is a respected colleague of mine, but because, to mainstream America, Steve represents black America, and so does Mary. When Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen and Larry King screw up, they stand on their own. It isn’t like that for black people. That’s why it’s so much more personal to us when a black celebrity gets himself or herself in trouble.

    Getting into trouble is one thing but making trouble for yourself and your family is another. Steve and Mary should have done everything in their power to keep their private messes private. But now that they haven’t, I tried to offer them a way to put their business back where it belongs.

    Some of you got my point, but many of you said I was jumping into the mud with them. Some said I was hating on Steve because he’s a competitor, and some said by bringing Mary Harvey on our show, I’d wasted 20 minutes of their time.

    In the end, I had the choice of ignoring the story altogether or helping our audience understand what was going on and move on to the next thing. Whether Steve and Mary take my advice on taking their private issues back to the house is their choice. In the meantime, our listeners want to know what stance President Obama will take on the crisis in Egypt and what was up with Chaka Khan’s daughter’s dress at UNCF Evening of the Stars. And not necessarily in that order.

    What we say, what we do and what we cover will never please everyone. But even when we fall short, our goal is to reach higher ground together.

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