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?

WHO YA WIT?

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka lower.case.p aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

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Damon Young

Panama Jackson is a co-founder of VSB and co-author of Your Degrees Won't Keep You Warm At Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating, and Fighting Crime. He believes the children are our future and is waiting to find out if he is the 2nd most interesting man in the world.

  • NomadaNare

    How are we going to keep the house from burning down if we don’t fix the wallpaper, first ? I mean if we can renovate the look of the walls and make sure it looks better, surely the fire will burn itself out, right? It only takes one small change to significantly alter the future of a burning house.

    BTW this was on Democracy Now! today: http://www.democracynow.org/2013/8/6/a_dream_foreclosed_as_obama_touts

  • Shamira

    welcome! *grabs ankles for celebratory twerk*

    • MissJo313

      Aww shucks, thanks! My first ever welcome twerk lol!

  • Jay-D, MBA

    This may have been said before but Don Lemon’s respectability politics is ludicrous The belief that acting, dressing, or speaking a particular way would make people treat you like a human being and undo systemic oppression, or bring racism to a halt is insane. Honestly, telling people to bleach their skin and straighten their hair would probably lead to better results.

  • Perfectasdusk

    Yes, we do see a lot of crimes committed by Blacks on prime time news but if you want to see the crimes that other folk are committing, you have to watch a special show like 60 minutes, Cold Case Files, Hard Copy, Nancy
    Grace, Anderson Cooper, American Justice, Court TV, City Confidential, Intervention, Snapped,
    Forensic Files, and the like. Well all I know is there are roughly 223 million whites in this country compared to only about 38 million blacks. If ¼ of white men out of 250 million are in jail that is a waaaaaaaay larger number than ½ of 22 million.

  • aico

    Excellent post.

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  • milo357

    I THINK DONS EXACTLY RIGHT, lose the chip on your shoulder, stop blaming white men all the time, stop seperating yourselves from every other race, and as far as a black president Obama came out of a white woman and was raised and educated by whites and neglected of course by his black father. His brother is black, he had a black mother and father. Ask Morgan Freeman if America has had its first black president. Foremost Don Lemon is classy educated and civilized. You bet he’s embarrased.