Don Lemon (AP Photo/File)
Once, I expressed concern to a friend about the policies being endorsed by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. My friend then asked me, “Would you feel better if President Bush’s closest advisers were all White males?”
I replied, “Actually, they are White males. It just so happens that one of them has dark-skin and a v@gina.”
My point in that otherwise crass remark was not to disparage Condoleezza. It was instead to note that a person’s skin color means almost nothing relative to the agenda they represent. If you are controlled by White males, pursuing the agenda of White males, and have the same societal impact as a White male, then you’re pretty much a White guy too. At the very least, your ethnicity goes from being correlational to purely circumstantial.
Dr. Boyce Watkins
I think I may have Don Lemon figured out. Don is a relatively well-educated, hard-working, law abiding citizen, as well as a proud gay man. He is the darling of the liberal establishment, and realized long ago that he can get rich and famous by proving to White people that he’s “different from those other people,” meaning loud mouth negroes such as myself.
Don also possesses the arrogance that comes with being a young, light-skinned Black man who’s been elevated by the legitimacy granted to leading Blacks who are accepted by White American media. CNN, MSNBC and other networks have long been in the business of creating “Black thought leaders” by simply giving them a large platform to serve as mouth pieces for an agenda that has typically left us at the back of the bus. Also, we have to face the fact that there are many in the gay and female liberal establishment who think of Black men as ignorant, s*exist, homophobic neanderthals. Hardcore feminism and gay rights have never mixed very well with our community.
I don’t hate Don, but I’m a little disappointed in him.
Don’s recent remarks about dressing and speaking appropriately weren’t just disappointing because he found himself taking the advice of a man like Bill O’Reilly. They were also sad because he’s found himself using his platform as a way to join the full-scale verbal assaults that conservative media tends to put on the African American community. In their minds, Trayvon deserved to die for wearing a hoodie, and any Black man who isn’t well-versed at acting as White as he possibly can deserves whatever he has coming to him.
If I speak a little slang, wear the wrong outfit, get a tattoo or (God forbid) let my pants sag, then I can only blame myself when a racist lunatic with a thirst for blood profiles, stalks, and chases me down before shooting me dead. Thank God I learned how to make White people feel comfortable; maybe I should have gotten my PhD in “Whiteman-ology” instead of Finance.
This goes deeper than Lemon telling people to dress better and speak well. Yea, yea Don, I’m a professor who grew up around White people, so I understand all of that. What’s most telling about Don’s criticism of the Black community is that there is a blatant asymmetry in the manner by which he attacks other Black people with the ferocity of a lion, but becomes as meek as a choir boy when asked to speak about the systematic racism being perpetuated by Whites. If he were to do that, he’d be like all the other talented Black journalists who can’t find a job because they have the audacity to speak for their community.
Don should remember that a half-truth is very close to being a lie. If a man says, “Officer, that guy punched me,” then it would be less than genuine to “forget” that the first man r@ped the other man’s daughter and pulled a gun out on his mother. That’s what often happens when people do fourth-grader analysis on the race problem in America: People love to discuss the last 20 years of history while forgetting about the 400 years that preceded it.
Yvette Carnell explains it well:
What Lemon never mentions is the impact of poverty, systemic racism, or the defunding of our communities, like the school closures in Chicago. In Lemon’s mind, none of this matters. It would all be fixed if Black men would only pull their pants up. Is there any veracity to what Lemon is saying? Some, yes. But his comments are not balanced and certainly not thoughtful.
Don should probably realize that when you assert that Black culture is the predominant cause of the suffering of the African American community, you are effectively saying that Black people are inferior to Whites. Yes, you are the chosen and exceptional negro, but you should not leverage your own success by sticking a knife into the neck of other Black people. Don also serves to devalue our humanity by implying that we enjoy going to prison, getting shot, and being unemployed. There is the implication that through some genetic miracle, Black men love our children less or don’t get opportunities because we don’t know how to please the people who’ve been trained to oppress us for centuries.
As Don talks about why Black men should dress better and why Black mothers need to shut their legs and get married, here are a few other things that he might want to mention: