One of the things I do in the morning as part of my little routine is check my Twitter timeline. Imagine my surprise when I saw that many were up in arms about some comments made this weekend by Don Lemon.
During his weekend piece on CNN, “No Talking Points, Lemon surprisingly agreed with the following comments made by 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 toward the street culture, drugs, hustling…gangs. Nobody forced them to do that, again, it is a personal decision.”
Nothing Bill O’Reilly says regarding the black community ever comes as a surprise to anyone. Ever. The only time we ever hear black people agree with him, for the most part, is when they’re part of the right wing.
Until Don Lemon. During “No Talking Points, Lemon said he agreed with O’Reilly and, in fact, felt he didn’t go far enough in his criticism.
Lemon stated that he has talked about this in the past and now has five things that can be done to help the community (let’s do this in reverse order:
5. Pull up your pants;
4. Stop using the “N word”;
3. Respect where you live (this includes not littering. Don said while living in white communities, he rarely saw it but living in Harlem now, he sees it all the time);
2. Finish high school and;
1. Stop having children out of wedlock.
Now, I’ll say this: His thoughts are not without merit. I’ve heard many people say they wish they could alleviate most of the things on this list because they are real issues. In fact, I’ve said a few of these in conversations with friends and people I’ve met in social settings.
However, I present this question: Don Lemon comes across as disconnected from the black community, for lack of a better term, when he gives these points without even considering other social or economic factors. I do not disagree that people, especially young people, should make better choices in life, but there are many people who are only surrounded by what they’ve seen growing up and don’t even know there’s another way to think about life.
No, you can’t blame “the man” for everything that goes wrong in the black community because if no one else looks after us, we have to look after us. But you just cannot give five points as simple as the ones Lemon described and think, like magic, the problems in the black community will just disappear.
If Lemon is so disturbed about the littering problem in Harlem, why doesn’t he use his celebrity to start a weekly or even monthly clean up program? It wouldn’t be easy but like he said, it would be a start.
There’s a bigger conversation, as there always is, to be had and I’m sure we’ll hear more from Don Lemon within the coming days. He does not come across as a bad guy and I suspect that many, more than anything, are upset that he agreed with Bill O’Reilly. We’ll see what happens.
Check out the video and feel free to discuss.