Don Lemon Wins At Black People’s Expense

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don lemonEver since CNN anchor Don Lemon (pictured) decided to start editorializing, he has not shown himself to be a serious thinker. Lemon has developed a knack for trivializing complicated sociopolitical issues affecting people of color, mostly by offering personal anecdotes to argue positions that could be easily debunked with data, such as when he peddled the silly little idea that if all Blacks just put on a belt and stopped calling each other “nigga,” everything would be okay. Don Lemon should know a style of dress or subtracting words from your lexicon won’t necessarily make you less susceptible to racism. It didn’t go away for him in 2001 when he sued a department store for racially profiling him.

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Then there’s the reality that Lemon often proves himself to be just as culturally ignorant as the older White audiences he’s whispering sweet nothings (about those wayward Blacks) to. You know, like the time Don Lemon came out of the closet and threw Black people under the bus by agreeing that Black people are more homophobic than Whites. Meanwhile, Blacks make up the largest bloc of the LGBT community. As in identified gay. Yeah, there goes your little “down-low-brother” myth too.

You would think one of the most-visible gay Black men in media would be fighting the stereotypes plaguing people like him and the collective community to which he is a part of.

Instead, he’s been nothing but a boil on the butt of common sense — cheerleading vigorously for the ideas from the greatest hits collection of systematic racism.

RAH! RAH! RAH! YAY, STOP-AND-FRISK! BOO, “POLITICAL CORRECTNESS!”

Not surprisingly, he is now being rewarded for it at CNN.

Mediate reports that Lemon will be getting his own show during the 11 p.m. hour. Apparently, “It will be a one-topic show tackling important issues of the day, either reported or vastly underreported, from Lemon’s unique perspective.”

Unique is one way of putting it.

Uninformed is another.

Dense is even better.

There’s also the word destructive — ahh, we have a winner.

Don Lemon may be on cloud nine about his ascension, but it is infuriating to know that belittling your own people for the entertainment of White audiences can still be so rewarding.

It’s not as though Black people are too pristine for criticism, but any form of criticism — particularly in a public space — ought to come from a place of love, or at the very least, be delivered by a person who knows what in the hell they’re talking about.

Don Lemon is not that person.

He reminds me a lot of Sarah Palin: Arrogant in his ignorance, attention starved, and so shameless that he’s ready to say anything so long as it gets the people talking.

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Right now, it is trendy in cable news media to be contentious rather than correct. Lemon is just another instance of this, but it hurts more knowing that there remains such a dearth with respect to how Black people are covered.

Even if Soledad O’Brien’s “Black In America” specials weren’t perfect, there was a genuine effort there to dissect issues plaguing African Americans in a thoughtful, meaningful way.

She certainly did better than this.

Melissa Harris-Perry and many of her colleagues at MSNBC do their part, but there should be more, and we all know that there could be if these network executives cared enough.

It is a shame that there are other qualified Black people in media who are more capable of the kind of commentary Don Lemon only pretends to give. Unfortunately, those folks aren’t skilled enough in the art of trolling to be handed a platform.

Harsh as it may sound, Don Lemon is an unqualified token that has been given a representational voice by a fledgling news network ran by a guy who looks at the news the same way he did family comedies in the 1990s. It may be entertaining to some, but it is not informative. Is that not the point of a news network?

Not only does CNN deserve better, but so do Black people.

Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick

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