Breaking Brown

July 5, 2013

Ebony Writer Goes in on CNN’s Don Lemon for His Cracker vs. N*gger Discussion

Ebony Writer Goes in on CNN’s Don Lemon for His Cracker vs. N*gger Discussion


by Yvette Carnell

Apparently not everyone in the black community wants to listen to another hand wringing, angst ridden news panel about who gets to say the “N” word and why. Some  black folks are actually over all the hoopla about the word, a point Ebony writer Michael Arceneaux drove home in his article titled, Dear CNN and Don Lemon.

Arceneaux laments the “sixth grade analysis” employed in the discussion, then goes in on CNN anchor Don Lemon specifically:

That leads me to you, Don Lemon and this despicable editorial of yours in which you so audaciously opine: “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.”

Well, “respectable Black,” massa didn’t even want me to read so you might as well stone me to death for being able to differentiate context and shifts in language, huh?

Then Arceneaux zeroes in on a point I’ve been mentioning for months, about how this sort of  “respectable black” nonsense is about the politics of respectability and black insecurity, not any real desire to help black folks. Arceneaux notes what’s missing from Lemon’s discussion:

I hope and pray I never catch Bill Cosby disease, because that brand of self-loathing and uppity point of view makes me want to bury my head in shea butter. If you’re really about going against the wishes of “massa,” why not do your part to discuss institutional racism?

There’s never any in depth discussion of systemic racism because that requires a bit of heavy lifting. Much easier to discuss how your parents were well to do and a cop called you n*gger one time (somebody get my swooning fan).

With the Voting Rights Act being gutted, Stop and Frisk, unemployment, and everything else, the last thing black folk needed was another discussion on the “N” word.

And Arceneaux is right when he says that the entire segment could’ve been cut down to one quote from Marc Lamont Hill:

“I always find it remarkable that white people find n-word usage such a complicated puzzle. It’s not that complicated: Just. Don’t. Use It. You just have to accept that there are some things in the world — at least one thing — that you can’t do that [Black] people can. And that might just be okay.”

That’s really all we needed. Everything else was black chatter.


Yvette Carnell is a former Capitol Hill and campaign staffer turned writer. She is currently an editor and contributor to Your Black World and Founder of BreakingBrown. You can reach Yvette via Twitter @YvetteDC or on Facebook.


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22 thoughts on “Ebony Writer Goes in on CNN’s Don Lemon for His Cracker vs. N*gger Discussion

  1. MalikAli says:

    Its a no brainer. A white person who uses the word nigger means only one thing. Black people have so many different ways of saying nigger, its like the skillful dribbling of a basketball or the slickest hoofer on the nightclub floor doing the Chicago 2 step. We can mean towards someone the most heartfelt love and affection while using the word. Be asking a question using the N word. Show that we are not believing what you are saying, we are pissed off, we are in love with a woman. Etc. Noone has to stop doing anything. Just do you. It bears no explanation, all dudes are trying to do is articulate, or rather over articulate some shyt that everyone already knows.

  2. AllisonGS says:

    I also would have liked if they added WHERE the word “cracker” came from. It was not derogatory it is when the white man cracked the whip. That is important to note, and it was never and is never mentioned in a discussion.

    1. richardwilliamson32 says:

      Go back watch the show again. There was indeed mention of the word “Cracker.” The word comes from how the people whipping the slaves made the whip crack “Cracker.” The panel also made a point in saying that slaves so whipped other slaves. They too were sometimes called “Cracker.”

  3. GregGross says:

    I don’t like the word. I don’t use the word. I don’t like the purpose for which it was created. End of that. Still, this must be said: The most dangerous, most despicable racists in America are the ones who would NEVER use that word, least of all in your presence. 
    They are the ones who politely, smilingly, quietly do what they can to assure that you live in second-class housing, receive a second-class education, discriminate against you in the workplace. They calmly and with good manners make certain that the hammer of criminal justice falls heavier on you than on others.  
    They then go home at night, gently assuring themselves and their peers that they “don’t see color.”

    1. Pattycake RN says:

      Wow, you ain’t never lied about that one.  That is for real and the most dangerous for sure.  A fake friend is exponentially worse than an enemy.  They will get all in your business with a smile and a pat on the back (but would really like to pat you on the head), and twist and turn everything you said to get the desired effect.  Then when you look surprised they will be so happy they want to dance a jig.

  4. DavidJones5 says:

    No respect for Don Lemon…the N word discussion was nothing but a subterfuge for the white executives to make money.  Don Lemon was more than happy to Sambo for white America and TV ratings under the guise of sincerity as a black man to eradicate the use of the N word for his massa. He even took a page out of the play book of his massa by putting black entertainers on the panel instead of black conscientious thinkers like Naim Akbar, Dr. Alvin Pussiant or Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu  who are scholars in the field of black culture. You would think a black man in journalism like Don would know there is a history of the white man being more comfortable with black entertainers instead of scholars because they see us as physical specimens and not intellectually.  I say thank you Michael Arceneaux  for exposing this sell out…DON LEMON.

    1. Andrea Carter Coffer says:

      DavidJones5 But of course.  CNN has REMOVED ALL black scholars from their rosters.  Its so obvious.

      1. Pattycake RN says:

        Andrea Carter Coffer DavidJones5 
        I made a comment about Sheriff Joe Arpaio giving ice cream to the prisoners (sarcastically equated it to prosecutor in Trayvon’s case just to bring some attitudes to the forefront) and it was removed from the page of a liberal media outlet.  I guess it’s not just the conservatives who don’t want certain ideas to get out.

    2. toyag says:

      DavidJones5 I totally agree with u

  5. JBReal says:

    The use of the N word is the least of our worries.

    1. Pattycake RN says:

      I somewhat agree, as long as it is not on a job that I am working at.  In that case, they should have what equates to a cussing jar where you have to pay out each time it is used.  Even if someone like Paula Deen uses that word to her employees, her cookbook sales went through the roof.  And yes she lost sponsors but I’m sure she will recover, just like Don Imus got another gig.  Money talks, so she should have to compensate those employees who were subject to her references. That should cut down on the liberal use of that work on the job cause out side of the job you can’t really control what somebody says.

      1. JBReal says:

        @Pattycake RN But the kids at school use it so much so that I stopped writing them up for it anymore. White and Black. Its a mess. They don’t even care when the whites use it to address them because they think it cool. SO how can you expect to penalize someone for it when its liberally used throughout the black community in front of white people no less. Its like telling a child not to smoke the blunt you have burning in the ashtray. My issues with PD go far beyond her use of the N word. To be honest, I am repulsed by the fact that the MEDIA is spinning it to look like this is the reason she is in hot shit when there is actually a 40 something page deposition of crap she did floating around the net. People should really get informed before they weigh in. Even the Media.

        1. Pattycake RN says:

          Well thanks for the info.  I’ve been weighing in on other issues lately but thought that I would comment on the info that I did have.  I guess no one can really know everything about a situation that they are not directly involved in but I still feel that I can take the opportunity to say how I feel about what I do know.  That’s one way of finding out more information when you discuss it with others.  I encourage people to share what they know and when they don’t know something they can always listen to someone else’s point of view.  There are all ways to educate ones self.

        2. JBReal says:

          Pattycake RN I wasn’t referring to you though. I hope you didn’t think that. I was talking about people who who have been saying that Paula Deen is fired over the N word usage when their are so many valid charges against her. I understand and agree with you.

        3. Pattycake RN says:

          JBReal Pattycake RN 
          No problem.

  6. Andrea Carter Coffer says:

    I concur.  Its a distraction away from the real issues…CNN, Where is Roland Martin and Donna Brazille?  Were they too intimidating?

  7. KalikKCrick says:

    Nigga Please!

  8. varopetop says:

    As a white man I never use that word. I was raised better than that myself. However if you really want it to go away perhaps everybody should stop using it.

  9. ladybeslin says:

    ” The N word”.  All Don Lemon needs to do is leave black issues up to real black folks, and just continue to keep being handsome,well dressed, proud and gay.

  10. Ar1 says:

    Damn the N-word, people are going to say what they want, just say it in the privacy of your homes or in your friends home. When you bring that nonsense in the street, that’s when issues arise.

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