Shannon Williams


You know what I’m tired of?

Black people being so defensive about things – specifically things that are done or said to actually help them.

Last week, CNN commentator Don Lemon made a comment that has since ignited a major firestorm of complaints from many in the Black community. Here’s what he said:

“Black people, if you really want to fix the problem, here’s just five things that you should think about doing,” he went on to say those five things included “Black men pulling their pants up, Black people not using the N-word, picking up the trash in our neighborhoods, getting a higher education and not having children out of wedlock.”

Oh…did I mention that Lemon actually said those things after controversial FOX commentator Bill O’Reilly offered his own opinion about what he felt the disintegration of the Black family was attributed to? Lemon cited O’Reilly’s comments and even said, “He’s got a point. In fact, he’s got more than a point…In my estimation, he doesn’t go far enough.”

I wonder if Black people are more upset because of Lemon’s comment or because as a Black man, he publicly agreed with a conservative white man who has a history of what many consider offensive and discriminatory comments.

I read one blogger who criticized Lemon. This particular man said that Lemon’s comments were a “media attack on Black men.”


Seriously, where do people come up with this stuff? I read many other blogs from African-Americans who said similar things. Just as they did Bill Cosby every time he offers his perspective on Blacks, these bloggers and journalists attack Lemon. One person even wrote “hey Don, stop airing our dirty laundry.”

My response to that person: clean your clothes and you don’t have to worry about any dirty laundry.

As Blacks, why do we have to be so defensive about things? Why not objectively look at aspects of our lives and objectively consider things that people say – even when we disagree with them – just consider their comments objectively. That’s how dialogue happens and that’s how we enlighten ourselves to other perspectives, even when we don’t agree with those perspectives.

Perhaps one of the most frustrating comments I read about Lemon’s opinion came from Dr. Boyce Watkins, finance professor at Syracuse University and the founder of Your Black World Coalition.

In his blog, Watkins insinuated that Lemon took such a stance on the issue because of his CNN affiliation.

“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 correlation to purely circumstantial. I think I may have Don Lemon figured out.”

Oh, by the way, the headline on that particular blog was “Lemon is an angry White man who just happens to be Black.”

Here is something for Watkins to consider: I am a Black woman who works for a newspaper that is owned by a Black man, therefore I am not controlled by a White man, nor am I pursuing the agenda of White males. However, I completely agree with what Lemon says.

Some of our people (Blacks) need to do a better job of investing in themselves. The investment I’m referring to isn’t strictly from a financial perspective, but more from the standpoint of making a concerted effort to be better in general – educationally, from the familial perspective, from a community standpoint – everything. It’s not about us “acting White,” but more about us just striving to be our best selves. Many of us are not the best that we can be so we should continually work on enhancing ourselves on a multitude of levels. Otherwise, we will continue to live lives that perpetuate a stereotype.

Here’s an example: there is a radio commercial that airs on at least one of Indy’s urban stations. The commercial is mimicking Siri, a technological application that verbally states who is calling and can read text messages.

In the commercial “Siri” says things like “Girl you better get ‘yo head did,” or “It be your baby mama calling.”

The commercial features what appears to be a Black male and female and they are speaking in such broken English and Ebonics that it is embarrassing. I cringe every time I hear that commercial.

Perpetuating stereotypes like the ones I just mentioned don’t do anything to help African-Americans advance. Truthfully addressing the problem by offering common-sense suggestions for improvement does.

We need to stop getting angry when someone tries to enlighten us, yet laugh when we are publicly humiliated and falsely categorized.

You can email comments to Shannon Williams at

Reprinted from the Indianapolis Recorder

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