Did Don Lemon Deserve the Backlash?

Some of the Black community has chastised CNN’s Don Lemon for “agreeing” with troll Bill O'Reilly and giving unsolicited advice, or rather outlining 5 ways that the Black community can improve itself.




Don Lemon said that the Black community should:


  1. Stop sagging their pants.
  2. Stop saying the N-word.
  3. Stop having babies out of wedlock or plan for children.
  4. Stop littering in the community.
  5. Finish high school/ Stay in school.


This isn’t what I sometimes like to refer to as ‘Bill Cosby rhetoric.’ Don Lemon’s pointers aren’t classist or elitist. They weren’t about ending racism, as we know it. Its purpose definitely wasn’t aimed at blaming black people for institutionalized racism—or blaming poor black people for being poor. It wasn’t a capitalist formula of picking-ourselves-up-by-our-bootstraps and magically and instantly dismantling the systematized discrimination and prejudices that exists in America. 


However, I think Lemon is also berated because he offers an outline for improvement without solutions to the problems. What about the black men who don’t sag and are still profiled?


And also, it’s very clear that any race would benefit from practicing some of Lemon’s pointers.


Yet I find the whole “Who gon’ check me boo” or the “No shame in my game” mentality comes out tenfold when confronted with issues like these. I don’t see why Lemon has been dubbed an Uncle Tom.


After Lemon’s list went viral, Russell Simmons wrote an open letter to Lemon and called him a “slave” on twitter. Keep in mind people, that Simmons is the same man that cosigned the gross “Harriet Tubman Sex Tape” and then apologized for it’s disgusting indecency.  


According to Simmons, “sagging” is no different than when Black people wore dashikis to express culture. Lemon responded by saying that sporting prison culture cannot be equated with Black pride.


Saying the “N-Word” is a long and loaded debate—but as a person who condones it’s usage among black people, I must admit that by my using it, I’m making it fair game for people outside of my race to use it as well.


As far as planning for children, not littering, and finishing school goes—isn’t that sound advice?


O’ Reilly clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he discusses “gansta culture” and what exactly is the demise of the “African American family.” But what are your thoughts on Don Lemon’s pointers? Do you agree with him or think that he is in no position to understand the Black community you live in?

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