I want to applaud Don Lemon for having the courage and the presence of mind to say something maybe a little politically inconvenient, but the truth nonetheless. Russell Simmons took Lemon to task over these comments, as did many other prominent black people, but the issue that Lemon brought up has been mentioned by Dr. King, President Obama, and Bill Cosby among others. And that issue is the harm that blacks do to themselves through their own actions outside of any racist elements. I have read, and heard in my own community many times young blacks saying that being “smart” is acting “white” – how preposterous is that? That is a mindset that needs to be done away with. Along with that, the 73% out of wedlock birth rate among the black community and the continued victim attitude are guaranteed recipes for poverty and failure. These rarely mentioned facts don’t stop this black author from agreeing with Lemon to some degree, but then he falls back into the stereotypical trap:
I’ll keep living by the “rules” not because Mr. Lemon says so, but because that is how I was raised. I also know that living by these rules is not going to make me less likely to be killed on the streets of New York. Living by these rules is not going to make my dark skin less threatening to whites. Living by these rules is not going to make me less likely to be harassed by police officers.
Don Lemon’s remarks hurt because, by aligning himself with Bill O’Reilly, a man known for his consistently paternalistic and racist commentary on lower-class black America, he joins a chorus of voices he should’ve thought twice about lending his to. You see, Don Lemon isn’t talking to young black men or even to black people. Like Bill O’ Reilly, his remarks are not intended to uplift the culture, but to inspire paternalistic finger-wagging among those who aren’t a part of it. I could think of a number of things that Don Lemon could really do if he wanted to help the community, and lecturing us through the bully pulpit of cable news isn’t even in the top ten.
Truth be known, because of Affirmative Action, whites are at a disadvantage when it comes to competing in the workplace. And Bill O’Reilly is NOT a racist. Anyone that listens to him as I do, knows that, so the author does himself a disservice by inappropriately demonizing someone who actually just speaks the truth regardless of how hard it is to hear. The fact is that this author and Lemon had a strict and loving family raising them, but unfortunately the majority of young black kids don’t and that is what is at the core of the problem.