Albin Lohr-Jones/ Independent Still Pool photo ©2017 Consolidated News Photos
Apparently, environmental injustice is funny to some people.
With a series of gaffes within the last few months, including directing Black Americans to respect Donald Trump and using harmful stereotypes to insult Asian men, Steve Harvey officially crossed the line when the host and comedian made light of Flint, Michigan’s inhumane water crisis in a heated exchange with a caller on his morning radio show.
According to listeners, the exchange started with what should have been a benign conversation about the NBA Finals. Harvey, who lived in Cleveland for many years, took offense when the caller said he was glad Golden State won the NBA championship.
Harvey went way left, callously replying “You from Flint? When was the last time you touched water that didn’t have lead in it…over there bathing in all that silver water. That’s why y’all ain’t even got clean water.”
His co-hosts attempted to playfully change the subject, but Harvey insulted the caller further, capping the exchange with “enjoy your nice brown glass of water.”
The public health crisis — which has been debilitating for many families in the majority black Michigan city — is so severe that 5 officials in Michigan were charged with involuntary manslaughter on Wednesday. It has also led to activists calling the city out for its environmental racism, as communities of color are more prone to experience asthma, lead poisoning, and other environmental issues that go unregulated by government officials.
Some may consider the manslaughter charges long overdue for a catastrophe that has led to an outbreak of lead poisoning in hundreds of children throughout Flint and a dozen deaths caused by Legionnaire’s disease, both of which began to plague Flint residents 3 years ago when the city changed its water source.
Flint’s mayor recently called for Harvey to publicly apologize, highlighting that Flint is “still going through many hardships and challenges caused by the poisoning of our city.”
To make a joke out of a tragedy such as this was in very poor taste, especially coming from someone of your stature,” Mayor Karen Weaver wrote in a statement.
For someone who prides himself on telling Black people and Black women how to comport themselves, it would probably do Harvey some good to take his own advice.
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