by Yvette Carnell
CNN’s in house black respectability expert and race explainer, Don Lemon, is on a roll this week. Just yesterday BreakingBrown reported that Lemon, while interviewing Morgan Freeman, lamented over how weary he’d become at the prospect of discussing race. Well, care to guess what he’s talking about today? You ‘betcha: Race.
Several recordings have surfaced of pop star Justin Bieber using the “N” word. In the minds of most people, Bieber is wholly responsible for his choice of words, but Lemon somehow feels that blacks are at least partially to blame for the white mega-star’s use of the word.
During an appearance on the Tom Joyner show, Lemon said that black culture bears some responsibility for Bieber’s language.
“Some are saying Bieber is racist,” Lemon said. “Is he? I don’t know. But I do know that this is the danger of the proliferation of the use of the n-word.”
Lemon explains that people hear the word so regularly that they become more likely to use it.
“Clearly Justin Bieber, a young man who by the way, has immersed himself in black, hip hop culture should not be saying the n-word,” Lemon continued. “So the question is, if you want people like Justin Bieber to stop using it and to stop making excuses for using it, shouldn’t you do the same?”
As The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates previously explained, words have context:
As I’ve explained before, the meaning of human language changes with context. That is why you may call your wife honey, but I probably should not. That is why Toby Keith referring to himself as “White Trash With Money” will never be the same as me accusing Toby of being “white trash with money.” That is why Dan Savage proposing a column entitled “Hey Fagg*t!” will never be the same as me seeing Dan Savage on the street and yelling “Hey Fagg*t!” This is how humans use language, and it is wholly consistent with how black humans use language. The effort to punish this use, like all respectability politics, is an effort to punish black humanity, is racism.
Again, Lemon exposes himself as a wannabe pundit incapable of harvesting worthwhile cognitive insights from news stories. Somehow, I doubt that will stop him.