After years of being blackballed in Hollywood, Oscar Award-winning comedian Mo’Nique sat down with Steve Harvey to settle their differences. Mo’Nique’s relationship with Harvey became strained after he publically criticized and distanced himself from her after she became outspoken about inequality and discrimination in Hollywood.

Mo’Nique also called out Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey, and Lee Daniels for not publically defending her. According to Mo’Nique, they knew she had “done nothing wrong.” Instead, according to Mo’Nique, they allowed her name to be dragged through the mud, rather than telling the truth about what was happening.

Mo’Nique won an Oscar for her outstanding performance in Lee Daniel’s film Precious. However, she was only paid $50,000 for the role and was expected to travel across the country and around the world to promote the film out of her own pocket. When she refused, she was labeled difficult. Mo’Nique then spoke openly about Hollywood’s refusal to pay Black actresses fairly.

At this point, she was blackballed.

In her sit down with Steve Harvey, Mo’Nique stood strong in her conviction that she did the right thing. Stating, “When you allow people, to start taking your freedom and your gift and making it become what makes them comfortable, we then lose.”

Steve Harvey then responded, “When you tell the truth, you have to deal with the repercussions of the truth. WE BLACK OUT HERE…”

He continued, “This the money game. This ain’t the Black man’s game. This ain’t the white man’s game. This the money game. And you can not sacrifice yourself. The best thing you can do for poor people is not be one of them.”

In this statement, Steve implies that truthtelling is the road to poverty and that to thrive, one must play “the game.”

However, Mo’Nique bravely countered, “Before the money game is the integrity game. And we’ve lost the integrity worrying about the money.”

Then Steve Harvey took a route that many people had an issue with. He acted as if standing up for Mo’Nique somehow would have made him lose his $100 million empire overnight.

Steve stated, “If I crumble, my children crumble, my grandchildren crumble. I can not for the sake of my integrity, stand up here and let everybody that’s counting on me crumble – so I can make a statement. There are ways to win the war in a different way.”

This is where we have a problem. I agree that in any situation, especially dealing with employment, we must be strategic and tactful. However, when battling a larger social issue, like the unequal payment of Black women – which is a huge issue – being quiet is the exact opposite of what we need.

This is especially true if you’re in a position of power.

Zora Neale Hurston said it best, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

Mo’Nique is calling out a larger social issue. She’s calling out anti-Blackness implemented by expecting Black people to allow themselves to be overworked and undervalued. We may not all be in Hollywood, but working class Black women see it every day. According to the National Women’s Law Center and Equal Pay Today, Black women face steep wage inequality.

“Black women working full time, year round typically make only 61 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.” (National Women’s Law Center)

Just because Mo’Nique is speaking out about Hollywood instead of an office job or fast food restaurant, doesn’t mean her words are any less true. Mo’Nique is a comedy pioneer and legend. Her decades of work speaks for its self. Yet, there are some still expecting her to be quiet and “grateful” as if she’s just some novice off the street.

The larger issue that she is addressing is about Black self-worth. Are we willing to set higher standards and enforce them? Are we ready to stop accepting crumbs? Are we ready to call out injustice, even if it means a temporary set back?

Though this can be scary, history has shown us the benefits of taking a stand. Muhammad Ali showed us with his refusal to fight in Vietnam, which led to him being stripped of his heavyweight title. Rosa Parks showed us in her refusal to give up her seat, leading her to be jailed. Recently Colin Kaepernick showed us, by taking a knee during the National Anthem to bring awareness to police brutality against Blacks, leading him to lose his job.

Some may not see the connection but it is there. Mo’Nique is fighting for pay equality. Without it, Black women specifically will continue to face economic instability. This is race-based financial oppression with real-life repercussions for everyday people.

That’s where integrity comes in because the issue is deeper than Mo’Nique personally. The Steve Harveys of the world may think they’re flourishing by staying quiet. Yes, Steve Harvey may be building wealth for himself but what good is it if the people he claims to support are still dealing with everyday struggles of wage gaps and underemployment? What good is his wealth if he refuses to speak out against the mass economic oppression of his people? These are issues that he could speak out about, starting with his industry.

And standing up to Hollywood is not a far-fetched idea.

Remember when everyone thought that Dave Chapelle was crazy for walking away from his widely acclaimed Comedy Central show? Remember how the network tried to bury him, even spread rumors about drug use?

He left for his integrity. It cost him financially at first but eventually, he became even more celebrated for standing his ground and not allowing himself to be exploited for profits. Years later, he was able to fully recoup his losses and is highly respected.

This is more than about Mo’Nique. And yes, integrity may have no immediate monetary benefit. However, history has shown us that if it were not for bravery and integrity – we would still be sitting in the back of the bus being told we should be grateful just for a seat.

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Jessica Ann Mitchell Aiwuyor is a publisher and multicultural communications specialist. To reach J.A.M., email her at JAMAiwuyor@gmail.com.

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10 thoughts on “Integrity is for broke people – Steve Harvey

    1. I agree!! Steve Harvey is a ” Yassam Master, Uncle Tom” in my opinion!! Selling your soul does you no good when it’s all said & done!! Go Monique!! Stand up for what’s right!!

      1. Black people stop classifying people like him an Uncle Tom read Uncle Tom’s Cabin He helped Slaves not what that piece of shit do.

  1. How many black women will stop supporting Steve Harvey? This social justice talk is all bs. How about not supporting Steve Harvey for literally telling a black woman she ain’t sh-t. His wife has kids by two former big time drug kingpins and she was a trap queen. Not every black woman wants to be that. Some black women have integrity. SMH. Quit watching his show or buying his bullsh-t.

    1. I got off the Steve bandwagon several years ago. I’ve never been really warm about him because I can’t stand to listen to him “speak”. His radio show is no longer humorous or a novelty to me. I was actually grateful when it was removed from yhe DFW market. Which put me in a minority amongst my circle. But I grew up on Tom Joyner & his standard of excellence is that by which I measure all morning radio. The rumors of his pious attitude are substantial so I don’t disregard them as ‘haterade’ from disgruntled parties. He’s just a “not” for me.

  2. ‘If it wasn’t for integrity and people being brave we would still be sitting back if the bus being grateful for a seat’

    Absolutely.

    Also Mr Harvey being that this the money game do you believe Ali was wrong for not going to Vietnam. His family crumbled for a period of time but then came absolution for him and his family.

    But honestly I do feel Steve Harvey does support Monique otherwise why have her on his show reminding people that yes my sister is still around! That’s that hidden agenda regardless of their back and forth.

  3. Frankly, Monique should not have let THIS conversation even happen. Monique, was suppose to use this opportunity on Steve’s Show to discuss her “Vegas Residency,” NOT the issue that they discussed. Steve used Monique and that topic for ratings. Steve is being CANCELLED. She should have SHUT HIM DOWN and told him just that. Steve knew that topic would have us watching. If he LOVED her so and was concerned, as he admitted, HE SHOULD HAVE CALLED HER LONG AGO WHEN IT FIRST WENT DOWN. But, HE WAS TOO BUSY. 😮 I saw Jane Fonda do it to Megan Kelly when she tried to discuss Ms. Fonda’s cosmetic surgeries instead of her movie which she came to discuss. Steve showed Monique just how much he CARED for her by using her. I thought Moe was sharper than that. I would have STOPPED HIM AND TOLD HIM STRAIGHT OUT “ I DID NOT COME TO TALK ABOUT THAT.” He didn’t even get to promote her Vegas Residency. He claims to be her Big Brother. WOW!!!!! We saw and heard Steve for just who he is.

  4. Monique stood strong, Steve came across very weak. It amazing how some people who thinks they are on top ;turns on another for taking a stand when wrong is done to them. Injustice done is wrong! I stands with Monique.

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