donlemonvsrussellsimons

In case you’ve missed it, Don Lemon has been having an interesting month. This is probably the most publicity he’s received in his entire career, not to mention the possible ratings boost CNN has garnered because of his “tough” talk to Black people. But not everyone is buying the lemonade that Don is selling from his CNN stand.

The most recent celebrity to speak out against Don Lemon, was Mr. Rushcard himself, Russell Simmons. In a letter penned for The Huffington Post, Simmons gave some hefty advice to Lemon on what he should be speaking out against:

Dear Don,

I got a chance to see what you said over the weekend about black America. At first I thought it was Fox News, but then I remembered you’re a CNN dude. I have nothing against Fox News, as Roger Ailes is my man, but the gospel you were preaching sounded like O’Reilly and Hannity were pulling your strings. Thank goodness my political director, Michael Skolnik, was on the show to stand up for African-Americans, because conservatives love when we blame ourselves for the conditions that have destroyed the fabric of the black community. I respect your courage on many other issues, but I can’t accept that you would single out black teenagers as the cause of their own demise because they don’t speak the King’s English or wear belts around their waistbands.

Hip-hop language and clothing styles are expressions of frustration with the status quo. Young people sagging their pants today is no different than young people rockin’ afros, dashikis or platform shoes in the ’60s and ’70s. And many of those rebellious youth grew up to be quite successful… bell bottom-wearing, pot-smoking, Barry Obama became the President of these United States of America and a long-hair, anti-war activist named John Kerry became Secretary of State defending our country in more creative ways than just using violence. They were knee-deep in a rebellious culture, and did anything but integrate into a world that they saw is filled with problems that needed fixing, filled with challenges, or in their mind, with problems that they could fix. And now they are fixing them.

When this country closes 50 schools in black communities and continues to build more prisons, I know that young people see through the institutionalized bullshit that is laid out in front of them every single day of their lives. The lucky ones, like you and me, owe a real explanation of the problems in our community to the ones who are still living in struggle, not some old, conservative talking points left in the garbage from Mitt Romney’s campaign. I understand personal responsibility far too well, but you can’t ask them to pull up their pants and then stand idle as they fear getting shot in the heart by wannabe cops while walking home to watch basketball games.

If you want to tell the rest of America this weekend when you go back on CNN how we fix black America, tell them to re-start the “War on Poverty.” Tell them to end the failed “War on Drugs” that has cost this nation over one trillion dollars and unjustly incarcerated a generation of black men. Tell them to support the President’s plan for universal Pre-K, so no child enters elementary school having to play catch up with the other children who are fortunate enough to go to pre-school. Tell them make college affordable and obtainable for young students who come from low-income families. Tell them that the right to a healthy life should be universal and not just for the fortunate few. And lastly, tell them that young black men and women don’t just need “role models” or “mentors,” they need “sponsors” who are willing to offer them a job.

I want the black kids to grow up and be like you. I want them to know that their imagination is god inside of them and I want all kids, but especially black kids, to have the freedom to dream as well to create their own language. After all, without their jazz, blues, rock n’ roll and now their hip-hop, America wouldn’t even have a language of its own, much less a culture.

Well, as tit-for-tat goes, Lemon recently spoke out against Simmons’ critique during a recent CNN Newsroom segment:

 

Tag, Russell Simmons, you’re “it”.

I’ll just grab some popcorn to see how this will unfold between these two men with so  much invested in the Black community.

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  • But Russell, equating that ignorance known as “sagging” with dashikis and afros???? Not at all! One is crude. One, to the majority of people with COMMON SENSE, makes you look a nasty, ignorant and damn fool! My having to see entire asses of masses of boys…, naw, no relation to a fro dude. Grow up Russell.

    Don isn’t perfect, but he speaks more common sense than Rus—an embarrassing apologist.

  • Miss A

    I’m glad Russell called Lemonhead out….he made some very good points! And him having a white spokesperson makes more sense to me as a brotha with dreds married to a “non-black” person. Anyways, Russell is known for dating and hiring non-blacks but should that take away from the true points he made? Just asking….

  • Patrick Williams

    Good job Don! Well said and you’re right on point!

  • Viv

    Equating sagging pants to afros and dashikis is insulting. Do not dare put the likes of Lil’ Wayne and Barack Obama in the same letter. You are talking about two completely periods of time. Those afros and dashikis worn in the 60s and 70s were symbols of Black pride and were followed up by strong action in the name of civil rights and equality.

    The sagging pants worn by a lot of our youth, (yes, I know it’s not just Black youth), is a fashion statement with origins in the prison system. Why would Black teenagers in particular co-opt something so negative, especially in light of the institutional injustices that Russell Simmons accurately points out in his letter to Don Lemon?

    When Russell Simmons talks about War on Poverty, I laugh because his Rush Card charges money in order for its users, many of whom are Black and/or live below the poverty line, to access THEIR OWN MONEY!! If he really wanted to revolutionize banking and help, he could have taken a stand against fees that make it more difficult for those mentioned to build a solid credit history. So no, Russ, I’m not feeling you on that.

    And let’s not even discuss what hip-hop has degenerated into. It is not the voice of Black youth anymore, so stop it. Most of hip-hop’s consumers nowadays are white suburban kids. Most lyrics are some iteration of “Gold watch on my wrist, Gucci on my feet, Maybachs in my driveway, Yachts on the water…” Aspirational, sure, but it’s all about MATERIALISM, not ACTIVISM. And most in the game now, Russell included, are extremely misogynist, with a deep hatred and fetishism of Black women.

    Unless Russell Simmons engaging his so-called buddies, many of whom are among the 1% of the highest economic stratum to take many of the actions he suggests (like hiring said “sponsoring” Black youth by offering them a job), he gets the side-eye.

    I wasn’t 100% on-board with everything Don Lemon said, either, and know it’s tough to air out our intra-racial dirty laundry, but in this battle, to me, it’s

    Don Lemon-1
    Russell Simmons-0