Steve Harvey Apologizes for Calling Smiley and West 'Uncle Tom'
Tavis Smiley and Cornel West take to the radio to address their critic
Last week, Steve Harvey set the internet ablaze when he called Tavis Smiley and Cornel West “Uncle Toms” saying they used their personal “beefs” to undermine the efforts of President Barack Obama. Smiley and West's "Poverty Tour" has received a lot of attention since it first launched.
Yesterday, “Dem Poverty Boyz” responded to his remarks during an interview on the Michael Baisden show.
“When you are trying to talk about issues that affect the people, name calling gets in the way,” said West. “Name calling is nothing but another weapon of mass distraction. ”
Smiley added, “You don’t let haters get you down, you have to stay focused on the issue. That’s why you haven’t heard neither one of us respond to Steve Harvey, or Tom Joyner. We don’t call people names, we stay focused on the issues.”
After seeing how fast his comments spread, Harvey took to his radio show Tuesday morning to apologize for calling Smiley and West out of their names.
“In retrospect, I probably should not have called these men ‘Uncle Toms,’” said Harvey. “I wear so many hats that sometimes as a comedian, I cross the line, which I will continue to do. I apologize for referring to them that way.”
Harvey continued, “But everything else I said, good. I’m not retracting my statements, I’m just apologizing.”
While Harvey is regretful for the name calling, he obviously still feels that both Smiley and West’s Poverty Bus tour and criticism of President Obama stem from personal vendettas surrounding inauguration tickets and Obama’s declining to appear at Smiley’s 2008 State of the Black Union summit. Obama however did address Smiley’s conference via satellite the following year.
“I don’t understand when people reference me as having a personal beef with Barack Obama,” said Smiley on the Baisden show. “He didn’t come in 2008, but I’ve never said anything negative about Obama other than things holding him accountable. One year later when he was the President, he spoke. If you think my beef is with him because he didn’t show up in ‘08 when he was a senator, but he did show up in ‘09 when he was president, what then is the beef about?”
West closed the exchange joking, “When somebody calls me an ‘Uncle Tom,’ that’s just like calling me an Eskimo or a star in the National Hockey League, that’s just ridiculous.”