According to Don Lemon, black people have to be perfect in order to improve race relations in this country. In a recent “No Talking Points” segment, Lemon offered his support to the following criticism of the African-American community by FOX News bigot, Bill O’Reilly: “The reason there is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African- American family. [...] Raised without much structure, young black men often reject education and gravitate towards the street culture, drugs, hustling, gangs. Nobody forces them to do that, again, it is a personal decision.”
Never mind the country’s history of institutional racism and systematic oppression. Don Lemon took Bill O’Reilly’s ignorant assertion further by listing five ways black people need to change in order to “fix our community.” In doing so, Lemon inadvertently revealed just how little he thinks of his race. His words:
“Here’s number five. Pull up your pants. If you’re sagging, I mean — I think it’s your self-esteem that is sagging and who you are as a person it’s sagging. Young people need to be taught respect and there are rules. [...]
Number four now is the n-word. I understand poetic license, but consider this: I hosted a special on the n-word, suggesting that black people stop using it and that entertainers stop deluding yourselves or themselves and others that you’re somehow taking the word back. [...]
Now number three. Respect where you live. Start small by not dropping trash, littering in your own communities. I’ve lived in several predominantly white neighborhoods in my life, I rarely, if ever, witnessed people littering. I live in Harlem now, it’s an historically black neighborhood, every single day I see adults and children dropping their trash on the ground when a garbage can is just feet away. Just being honest here. [...]
Number two, finish school. You want to break the cycle of poverty? Stop telling kids they’re acting white because they go to school or they speak proper English. [...]
And number one, and probably the most important, just because you can have a baby, it doesn’t mean you should. Especially without planning for one or getting married first. More than 72 percent of children in the African-American community are born out of wedlock. That means absent fathers. And the studies show that lack of a male role model is an express train right to prison and the cycle continues. So, please, black folks, as I said if this doesn’t apply to you, I’m not talking to you. Pay attention to and think about what has been presented in recent history as acceptable behavior. Pay close attention to the hip-hop and rap culture that many of you embrace. A culture that glorifies everything I just mentioned, thug and reprehensible behavior, a culture that is making a lot of people rich, just not you. And it’s not going to.”
Read the full transcript and watch video here.
If only we picked up the garbage in Harlem and started wearing suits and ties instead of sagging jeans, we could finally overcome and stop white people from killing us. Oh and we need to stop littering. Because only black people litter (our melanin predisposes us to littering).
His respectability politics play sends a dangerous message that the blame for oppression lies with the oppressed. He puts the onus on us to change to ‘earn’ basic rights and privileges that are extended to other races, no matter their flaws.
Changing our style of dress and speech won’t help the real-life issues black people face like voter suppression and racial profiling. And why do black people have to be perfect in order to be treated fairly?
The most egregious part of Don Lemon’s five step anti-hip hop plan is that he hooked it to the murder of Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman made assumptions about Trayvon based on the color of his skin that led to his killing (I refuse to address the hoodie as it’s essentially the uniform of white college students who Zimmerman would’ve given a ride home in the rain). Trayvon Martin wasn’t sagging, yelling the “N-word” in earshot of Zimmerman or having babies out of wedlock, Don Lemon, so why was he stalked, profiled, killed and denied justice even in death?
I wonder how Don Lemon’s fitted pants and proper speech helped him when he claimed actor Jonah Hill treated him like “The Help.” If only Jonah Hill knew that Don Lemon doesn’t litter, he would’ve treated him like his equal.
What do you think of Lemon’s five point plan?