CNN’s Don Lemon backed up controversial political commentator, Bill O’Reilly’s remarks about what’s wrong with the Black community’s family structure. Lemon agreed with O’Reilly, but took it farther and offered up five basic tips from his mother’s library of uplifting knowledge and laid it on like a blanket, as a means to cover all young men of color with a veil of protection from racism. It was these points that forced Hip-Hop mogul, Russell Simmons to write a scathing open letter, coupled with a few angry tweets in response to Lemon’s manifesto.
Lemon backs up President Obama and Trayvon Martin’s parents, among others, who think that we need to be more open and honest in our conversations about race. He starts, “Black folks, you cannot say that you own no parts in some of the ills that plague our community. It’s not honest and it’s not constructive.”
On “No Talking Points,” Lemon rebutted Simmons’ statements, saying, “no more excuses.” Lemon says, “I’m glad you wrote the letter,” Lemon said, the first of several such assurances, but said he almost didn’t respond, “not because I think you completely missed the point, not because, like many of the other critics, I thought you were just using the occasion as a promotion for one of your businesses, your website, but I wasn’t going to address it because, quite honestly, it was hard to take you, and it, seriously after you called me derogatory names like slave on Twitter.”
Russell has since apologized to Lemon for calling him a slave, but he also kept the conversation going, or as he called it, a “healthy debate.”
Don Lemon accepted Russell’s apology and welcomed him to CNN for an on-camera discussion, of which Uncle Rush has declined.
Lemon’s official response to Russell hit points in Russell’s open letter and challenged said points with supplemental statements from Black leaders like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, President andMrs. Obama, and Bill Cosby:
“It’s what those brave men and women who risked their lives, for our freedom and equality want for us. They fought for us and generations to come, to be better than them. Not to be illiterate, deadbeat dads or criminals. We must stop the blame for things we can change ourselves. Again, as the first African American president of the United States says, ‘no more excuses.’”
Don then let a speech from President Obama play:
“Nobody cares how tough your upbringing was. Nobody cares if you suffered some discrimination. and, moreover, you have to remember that whatever you’ve gone through, it pales in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured, and they overcame them, and if they overcame them, you can overcome them, too.”
In Don Lemon’s response to Russell, I am leaning more towards understanding his fight in attempting to put the mirror before the faces of Black people. We have a responsibility. Dr. King said it best, “Nobody else can do this for us. No document can do this for us.If the Negro is to be free, he must move down into the inner resources of his own soul and sign with a pen an ink of self-assertive manhood, his own Emancipation Proclamation.” The message here is self-awareness. Lemon only wants Black people to be more aware of ourselves in combating the slave mentality.
While I believe that Don’s 5-point plan is a bit too simple and too much of a blanket statement to work for all Black people, it is still a start in changing the minds of others void of color about their opinions on us.