Good evening everyone. I am sure that you have heard by now about the comments of CNN anchor Don Lemon on what the Black community needs to do in order to improve. Earlier today, in a talk radio session I offered some thoughts on what Mr. Lemon said, and what I thought was wrong with it. As I moved through my day, I got into some interesting conversations around this. Including some who agree with the spirit of what he offered to say. While one will always get those, as the conversation went on, the individual put it to me that I should have some compassion for what Don Lemon is trying to say to our community. Now, this forced me to stop and think: had I not expressed that in my critique? I don’t think I was overly harsh, but I did take pause to consider what the intent of Lemon was getting at. Still, with that said, I stick to my original assertions.
Now, I wont rehash some of my problems with Mr. Lemon’s argument. You all know that in general, I give no quarter to those of us who choose to not speak to social issues and double down on “personal responsibility” mantras as the be all end all of resolving the problems of Black America. Here are two great critiques that rip right into Don Lemon’s assertions with great detail. See Why Don Lemon is wrong by Dr. R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy of Ebony, and Are Black Men The Reason Racist Views Exist by Jennifer Hampton of Urban Expressive.
The biggest problem with Don Lemon’s assertions, is that he piggybacked on well known anti-Black commentator Bill O’Reilly. Had he distanced himself from O’Reilly, or stood on his own two point wise, I don’t think the backlash would have been so visceral. At least with Bill Cosby, while his personal responsibility rap does give conservatives ammo(intentionally or unintentionally- we can argue about), at least he does not use them as reference points in his arguments. That is part of the reason that the fury was so strong. Those kind of critiques of the Black community, if they are to be made, need to come from a place of concern. When it comes to the likes of Bill O’Reilly, Hannity, Limbaugh, and others, we already know what distorted angle this is coming from. Lemon made a play for ratings primarily, not an all encompassing place of genuine compassion. If you want to ride to the “rescue” of Black America, make sure its not on the wrong horse. Or else you just might get knocked off of it.
Marc W. Polite