Over the weekend, TV host and comedian Steve Harvey was condemned as a "sell out" and compared to a "Roots" character for imploring black people not to sabotage their success.
"The best thing you can do for poor people is not be one of them," Harvey told fellow comedian Mo'Nique during a Friday appearance on "The Steve Harvey Show."
Addressing Mo'Nique's alleged blacklisting, Harvey criticized the female comedian for "burning too many bridges" when she publicly invited Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, and Lee Daniels to "suck" her "d***," if she "had one."
"When you tell the truth, you have to deal with the repercussions of the truth," Harvey told Mo'Nique. "This is the money game. This ain't the black man's game, this ain't the white man's game. This is the money game. We in the money game. And you cannot sacrifice yourself. The best thing you can do for poor people is not be one of them. You cannot help them, Mo'. You cannot help them like that."
"Before the money game, it's called the integrity game. And we've lost the integrity worrying about the money," Mo'Nique countered.
Harvey responded, "But, Mo': If I crumble, my children crumble, my grandchildren crumble. I cannot, for the sake of my integrity, stand up here and let everyone that's counting on me crumble so I can make a statement. There are ways to win the war in a different way."
Mo'Nique reacted by condemning Harvey as a "sell out" to his own people via Instagram, posting a video of Muhammad Ali and a clip of "Roots," a film about African slaves, with harsh captions directed at the "Family Feud" host.
"I JUST HAD TO REPOST THIS. THIS IS FOR ANYBODY PUTTING MONEY FIRST AND NOT THE LOVE OF YOUR PEOPLE. I LOVE US FOR REAL!!!!!!" reads a caption written by Mo'Nique. The attached video says, "Yall [sic] think Steve Harvey need to hear this," and showcases Ali saying "money means nothing to me, nor boxing, when it comes to the freedom of your people."
Here's the partial transcript via Fox News:
“As of now, money means nothing to me, nor boxing, when it comes to the freedom of your people. So, everything I’m doing, if it means hitchhike tomorrow, if it means be raggedy, if it means looking for a job. I’ll be happy because I can go to bed, my conscience is clear, and I didn’t sell out or trade my people just because I can be rich in Hollywood with a yacht out here,” he says in the video. “But I wouldn’t want that damned yacht if I couldn’t go back over in the black neighborhood and protest a black woman being raped. The hell with your yacht; the hell with the championship.”
Another post features a video clip of "Roots" spliced with clips of Harvey and Mo'Nique's heated discussion.
"Selling out. A common idiomatic pejorative expression for the compromising of a person’s integrity, morality, authenticity, or principles in exchange for personal gain, such as money. In terms of music or art, selling out is associated with attempts to tailor material to a mainstream or commercial audience," the caption of the video reads.
Mo'Nique captioned the post: "THIS GAVE ME CHILLS! WHAT HAS CHANGED!!! Y’all I LOVE US 4 REAL!!! WE DESERVE TO LOVE US BETTER!"
The Atlantic's Jamele Hill criticized Harvey, too.
"To me, the most disappointing thing Steve Harvey said in that entire exchange was, 'the best thing you can do for poor people is not be one of them.' Truly one of those statements you make when you have lost touch," Hill wrote in a tweet.
A Twitter user pushed back: "After he said that he then said ‘we cannot help them like that’ so I took that as him saying you need to be in a position of power (money) to apply the change you want."
Hill replied: "I understand the philosophy, but what I see happen frequently is the change-the-system-from-within folks, become the system they’re supposedly trying to disrupt."
WATCH (relevant marks begin at the 5 minute mark):