Pop Culture, Race & Politics

Don Lemon To Black Community: “F*ck With Me You Know I Got It”

I'd call him my nword but then it would turn into a thing. I hate things.

I’d call him my nword but then it would turn into a thing. I hate things. Plus he’s not really my nword.

“…it’s like these people have a racial commitment to crime…” ~ Danny Vinyard, American History X

That line always struck me as preposterously poetic, sinister, and eloquent at the same damn time. The sad part of it all is that while Danny Vinyard (played by Edward Norton) was a member of a white supremacist group and clearly prone to that line of thinking as a sort of party line when speaking of Black people, I wouldn’t be surprised if the standard, common, Joe Blow American doesn’t feel some type of familiarity with the sentiment involved. Perhaps its not stated so eloquently or as intentional, but more as a matter of function. It’s like the Chris Brown corollary: if chair is thrown from a window and Chris Brown is present, there is a better than 90 percent likelihood that Chris Brown either threw it or was involved with its flight.

Or put more simply, while I don’t know that I think most Americans (or people of the world for that matter) view Black people as rampant criminals, I will say that I’m sure there’s a significant portion of people that aren’t surprised at all when they see news stories involving black-on-black crime.

Which is why its so great that we have both Fox News Bill O’Reilly and CNN’s Don Lemon to help us figure out how to stop being such violent creatures and criminals. See, recently, Bill O’Reilly purported that African-Americans (nobody calls us Black in Prime Time) trend towards violence because of the breakdown of the African-American family. Don Lemon took it a step further with his five-point plan on how we could…get it together? Or stop being so violent? I’m not exactly sure what is to be achieved by his five points…but he had five points…perhaps Don Lemon is suuwoo. That’s a little gangland reference for those that don’t know. What? I’m Black. I’m crime prone.

By the way, I realize I’m late to the Don Lemon party. But upon seeing it I realized that well, if there’s something worth discussing its five-points to make you Black folks lives better. So let’s take a look at his points, mmkay?

5. Pull your pants up

4. Stop using the n-word

3. Stop littering

2. Graduate

1. No more unwed mothers

There were varying facts and figures that he used to support how exactly these five things were cornerstones of the degradation of the African-American community.

Now let’s be completely objective, if we can. On the surface, all of that is right. Or at least there’s nothing wrong with any of those points. On a purely surface level, the trend – ongoing for way longer than it should – of folks walking around visibly showing their draws…well I don’t get it either. I live in a Black neighborhood. I’ve seen more draws on a daily basis than the folks in Hong Kong making Fruit of the Looms. It’s truly stupefying. Mostly from a practical standpoint…it can’t be easy to walk like that. Nor can it be comfortable. I remember when sagging was popular….this ain’t even sagging, this is just downright walking with your pants around your knees. I’m just perplexed due to function. Given ALSO how tight pants are nowadays, its like dudes are walking around in cocoons…everybody’s just hopping nowadays. No Que.

Again, stop using the n-word, there’s a totally practical reason for this as well. Just like not littering (goooooooooo Earth…Captain Planet swag and sh*t). Graduate more? Who can’t get behind that? Even Kanye – one of the most notorious college dropouts in American history – named an album Graduation. That must count for something right? No unwed mothers…again, on its face, this makes pure and total sense. In social terms, its the ideal. A two-parent home clearly provides the most optimum opportunity for success – though its no the ONLY opportunity for success as so many of us can attest to.

But it is entirely possible to still be right and wrong simultaneously. None of those “solutions” would fix issues unique to the Black community. To keep it really real here’s how it actually works. If you graduate, you are probably more likely to get married…which means your dual income will allow you to live in a place where there ain’t much trash around which will likely have much less individuals using the nword OR sagging their pants. That’s just about moving to the a gated community.

Jokes aside, I feel like the biggest issue with points like this that aren’t wrong on the surface is that they don’t address any of the “why” of the situation to begin with. Granted, “why” can be a copout at times. I know. But think about it like this…if the goal is to eliminate violence (?) or change perception (which is not just Black folks fault mind you), will any of that sh*t truly make a difference? If I pull my pants up and stop using the nword, will I be looked at different? What if I put some sh*t in a trash can instead of on the ground – something that EVERYBODY hates seeing by the way, even folks in the hood get annoyed by the littering – and graduate a few times and don’t have a child out of wedlock…will that stop all the violence?

No. Part of the problem is the abject poverty may folks live in along with the laws and policies that have intentionally segregated this country for years. If you read transportation policy and understand city planning and redlining you see how cities were constructed to maximize segregation. I don’t care who you are, when a motherf*cker builds a HIGHWAY through your community specifically to separate the haves and the have nots (more a class issue) self-esteem issues are going to exist. It’s almost as dumb as not allowing a person with daddy issues – man or woman – the space to overcome the self-esteem issues they may or may not have. When sh*t is f*cked up, people are affected by it. Period. The problem is, the way you’re affected then resonates with another set of people who have the ability to more or less control some of the outcomes that are desired. Not a copout, just an acknowledgement that tellling Black people to get their sh*t together over a trash can and some sagging pants isn’t even a bandaid, its short sighted as hell.

Coming from Don Lemon it almost seems extra irritating. I’m not sure why this is, but it doesn’t feel genuine. His little anecdotes about living in Harlem now and the things he sees and how he never saw that before? I’m pretty sure he didn’t live in my neighborhood in Atlanta. Things he’s complaining about were par the course. NY…be offended. NYC is dirty. Period. The whole damn city. It ain’t Philly dirty…but its dirty.

Is he really arguing that if you just pick up trash in Harlem that everything’s gonna be alright. No Vinnie. Which remarkably, IS WHAT TREACH SAID! *rimshot*

I realize Don Lemon has caught a lot of flack, and probably mostly from folks in the Black community. I’m also sure he’s got a lot of support from that same Black community and much head nodding and agreement from a bunch of folks who treat Blackness as a pathology and not just a race. Ultimately, that’s what this comes down to…a white person litters…he’s littering and he’s a douche.

If a Black man does it, he’s predisposed to littering and is going to blame it on slavery. Black people are walking, talking pathologies. Pathology is the new stereotype.

This has gotten long, and yes that’s what she said. But what are your opinions about Don Lemon’s “No Talking Points” segment?

Agree? Disagree? Why or why not?



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Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future.

  • Ashley

    you on it today huh! good shit, good sir

  • Caramel Sundae

    Agreed. Without acknowledging the source of these ” issues”, his point is moot. Boy bye!!

  • Yonnie

    J Smooth said everything I was thinking and feeling, only more eloquently. I really hope Don Lemon sees it. You can’t argue with this logic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmdlMlRdt7Y

    • http://daratmathis.wordpress.com/ dtafakari

      that man is a frickin poet. i love him.

    • panamajackson

      somebody sent that to me last night after i posted…that damn Jay Smooth be on it.

  • KingJames870

    I think he left out some very important points…We should talk about the failed Drug War (new Jim Crow) which has been detrimental to the black community, the fact that American history shows that everyone has had to fight powerful white men for rights including other white men and down the line in this country and that creates a powerful way of thinking giving the demographic that controls the laws and direction this country is going, it gives great power over the social standards, and poor education in poor communities. I would love to see the media address the real problems and come up with rational solutions.

  • http://testorshia.blogspot.com/ Testorshia Turner

    I think those talking points are not implicitly “black people problems,” and that, in the context of the conversation he was having, were meaningless points to make. In a national conversation about the death of a black child at the hands of an ambiguously-but-assumed white male, what does saggy pants have to do with getting shot? What does me being married have to do with the probability of my kid not being murdered? If there were less litter on the ground, would Trayvon not have been shot? See? Useless points to make.

    Yonnie posted a video that is essentially exactly how I feel about the whole thing.

    And Mr. Lemon is a buster.


    • LMNOP

      What does me being married have to do with the probability of my kid not being murdered?


  • I Am Your People

    What SHE said —> bit.ly/184pijf #shamelessplug

  • McNairian

    Taking it all out of context makes agreeing (or disagreeing for that matter) difficult. I think that you have to look at what the media is doing to us. Look at what the Mona Scotts and Shaunie O’Neals are allowed to do with the blessing of these media conglomerates. Let us demand more positivity on the radio. let us demand more positive images on TV and Media. There are no consistent, modern depictions of us that are positive on TV these days…The majority or negative and it seems that black males and females are some sort of hypersexualized, violent savages. The only positive images that we see of us are occuring in the good old days of segregation and Jim Crow. D*MN DAT!

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/pervertedalchemist1 Perverted Alchemist

      The funny thing about Don Lemon’s criticism is the White conservatives backing him up on it. As a Black conservative, I can tell you first hand that most of them form their views on people of color solely based on what they see on television. In fact, almost none of them have never been around a person of a minority group- that is, unless they were forced to.

      • Yonnie

        Hence Bill O’reilly’s re-cap of his trip to Sylvia’s. Like dude… have you ever met a real live Black person before in your life?

  • NomadaNare

    From my facebook:

    made Lemon the “proper attire/self-respect” referee?. Why do my clothes matter in
    assessing my worth as a human being? And why do these types of
    criticisms always include just enough back story/history to “support”
    their feeble argument, but not an accurate assessment of the historical
    problems that the people being criticized usually face? How about
    instead of worrying about my clothes, we talk about the more damning
    effects of poverty and systematic disenfranchisement? How getting a
    higher education just got more expensive for all new students regardless
    of color, but ridiculously more expensive for poor kids (who if black
    are more likely to fall into this category) who almost exclusively rely
    on scholarships and government loans? Where was Lemon (and O’Reilly for
    that matter) when Scalia and Thomas voted out protections on our right
    to vote despite the fact that the VRA had been used 70 something times
    in the past two years? We could’ve even talked about homophobia in the
    black community because this is a real problem that disregards possible
    allies for reasons no bigger than glorified real-housewife-level
    disagreements. I mean I could go down the list and talk about this ish
    for hours but It’s amazing that people like this never miss an
    opportunity to criticize people that are already down, but manage to
    miss the major stories (and history) contributing to their perpetual
    can’t-get-right. Where is the talk about white men in suits being predisposed to financially sink holing entire countries? Where is the talk about white kids becoming upset and blowing themselves/and other people away/up. Why aren’t these problems codified in a way that promotes pathologically “white problems”? I get it Lemon, you got picked on when you were younger
    for being gay, or the kid that talked funny. I was the same way. Here’s
    the difference, I eventually realized that just because I had the
    opportunities/support to get better grades then my class mates didn’t
    make me better, and once I stopped being an asshole about my perceived
    advantages, my classmates stopped teasing me. Lemon, you can go about
    this event thinking that black people don’t like you because you made
    something of yourself, because your gay, or because you have unpopular
    opinions, when in reality, black people are jumping down your throat
    because under the guise of “tough love”, you’re attempting to use
    unfounded hackneyed, intentionally politically/racially charged
    criticism to make you feel better about yourself. Educated, PhD track,
    neat-polo-khaki-chino wearing, wing tip oxford shoe buying, Queen’s-English-speaking, black man to educated
    black man, go f*ck yourself.

    A more eloquent response:

    • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

      ~ Why aren’t these problems codified in a way that promotes pathologically “white problems”?

      this is long overdue. long long long long long overdue. i’m all about putting this out there. it’s a cultural pathology that has global implications, and it’s been this way since the Crusades. i’m starting to think imperialism is a function of Neanderthal DNA. recessive genes will die out. they know this on some basic biological level. we are all living proof of the results of this natural deviation run amok.

      • NomadaNare

        We all have been between 2%-4% Neanderthal genes. I was curious about this too, so I looked it up. As American Blacks, on average we have no more or no less Neanderthal DNA then white people. There really is very little physical difference between the two races, it’s really all in how we’re socialized.

        • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

          i know that i cant prove my point. it’s intuition which means little to anyone else, but it’s helps me to construct a story that i understand based on my observations of white folk. while it would be impossible (for me) to prove that imperialism is a genetic trait, history shows that this is the way of the Caucasian, who built a world of global dominance based on false myths about race. i’d also like to add that i see willful imperialism every day. it’s disguised as gentrification but i see the commonality between the two.

  • http://www.WordsDontDoItJustice.com/ Ruthless Wonder

    While what Don Lemon said might not fully address the situation black America found itself dealing with(the perception that the death of an unarmed black teen can be justified), I stop short of calling it short sighted. This goes a bit to your point about the people who think of black as a pathology as much as a race. You can’t defeat the larger problems of the black community by just throwing money and programs around. You also can’t fix them by ignoring them. Before you can address more abstract concepts like the disproportionate application of the war on drugs to the black community, or the inherent segregation found in city planning and housing development and property values due to J.C. Nichols involvement, do some small stuff to make things start moving. When people start new habits it usually takes one small change that gets them more able to do bigger and bigger ones.

    Isn’t that the same thing we should be doing here? Yes not sagging, waiting till you get married to have kids by using condoms and other pregnancy prevention measures, stop using the nword so much(baby steps), stop littering, and make it big deal when you graduate so others want to do the same are small things. But aren’t they the kinds of small things that would help public perception so you have more than just the black community backing the attempts to change the other things? Don’t we have to start somewhere? How are you going to fix the inherent need for a below poverty service job class if you won’t throw away that 5-hour energy bottle in a trash can? How can we rectify centuries of systemic racism if we won’t stop giving more respect to the person coming home from jail than to the kid who just got a master’s degree? How can we stop having people like Riley Cooper feel okay threatening black men working security if your favorite rapper says Nword like it was some kind of black smurf? Hell yes we need to cover the big stuff, but we should knock out these easy small ones to build up to it.

  • iamnotakata

    Don Lemon meh…I look at it like this, talk is cheap. A lot has been said in regards to how to fix the problems in the black community but, not a lot has actually been done. Sure we can be upset that he hasn’t provided solutions or found the root cause, but at the end of the day if people don’t actually do something about the problem they will continue to exist.

    Same deal with poor performing inner city schools people complain and complain but when you actually suggest doing something they always negate their concerns with the assumption nothing will change…..

    You won’t know if you don’t try…

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