by Yvette Carnell
It has only been a few weeks since writer Michael Arceneaux called out CNN anchor Don Lemon’s “sixth grade” N-word analysis in an Ebony op-ed. The problem? As Arceneaux implied, Lemon plays into the Politics of Redemption, the belief that white people would treat black people better if only black people would behave. Lemon lamented during the N word segment: “Have you ever considered that you may be perpetuating the stereotype that massa intended? Acting like a n*gger. Stop acting like n*ggers and saying ‘n*gga,’ n*gga.”
Instead of backing away from those comments, Lemon is doubling down, siding with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly in denouncing black culture. During a CNN segment, Lemon castigated black men for the damage they’ve done to their community.
Before sharing his own opinion, Lemon shared a clip from O’Reilly’s show, where O’Reilly stated the following:
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.
Then Lemon cosigns O’Reilly, saying, “Bill’s got a point,”adding, “In fact, he’s got more than a point…In my estimation, he doesn’t go far enough.”
“More than 72% of children in the African Americans are born out of wedlock,” Lemon said. “Studies show that lack of a male role model is an express train right to prison, and the cycle continues.”
“Please, pay attention to and think about what has been presented in recent history as acceptable behavior,” Lemon finished. “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.”
What Lemon never mentions is the impact of poverty, systemic racism, or the defunding of our communities, like the school closures in Chicago. In Lemon’s mind, none of this matters. It would all be fixed if black men would only pull their pants up. Is there any veracity to what Lemon is saying? Some, yes. But his comments are not balanced and certainly not thoughtful. He, and the folks at CNN, are trying to make news off the backs of black politics, just like the rappers Lemon is censuring.
Lemon comes from a wealthy family, so I understand that he may not “get” poverty, but he should grapple with the underlying causes before going live on air. And anyway, I thought he was a reporter. Since when did he become the go-to-guy on race?