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CNN’s Don Lemon Fires Back at Critics for Calling Him ‘Uncle Tom’

don-lemon-sex-abuseCNN anchor Don Lemon continues to deal with the fallout from his “tough love” scolding of the black community over the weekend, even bringing together his own panel on CNN to address some of the harsh condemnation he’s received, including charges that he’s an “Uncle Tom.”

During his initial CNN commentary, Lemon said the recent diatribe by right-wing Fox host Bill O’Reilly about the problems with black culture and black people didn’t go far enough in criticizing the black community. Lemon listed other problems he sees with black people, including sagging pants, the overuse of the N-word, littering in black neighborhoods, dropping out of school, and having babies out of wedlock.

While some analysts have taken Lemon to task for lacking context and perspective in his analysis and for missing the major issues facing black people, like unemployment, radical racial imbalances in criminal sentencing and a failing education system in black communities, Lemon attempted his own damage control by bringing panelists onto CNN to say that his criticisms were accurate.

For the most part, his panelists—who included journalist LZ Granderson and GOP pundit Ana Navarro—agreed with Lemon and said he wasn’t being condescending, he was just giving some much-needed “tough love” to the African-American community.

“What is wrong with telling people to dress appropriately?” Lemon asked the panel. “These are things that I said yesterday that my mom taught me in kindergarten… Dress nicely, speak well, speak appropriately.”

Granderson said that while there’s a certain level of context that needs to be understood in talking about the N-word, the bottom line is that when people walk around with saggy pants and dropping the N-word, they likely won’t get a good job or a “decent date with anyone worth loving.”

“You know what you sound like right now?” Lemon said to Granderson.

“Like a reasonable human being?” Granderson responded.

“It’s really just about respecting yourself,” Lemon said, “You have to make a decision at some point that you are going to be better than your surroundings and your circumstances.”

 

What people are saying

23 thoughts on “CNN’s Don Lemon Fires Back at Critics for Calling Him ‘Uncle Tom’

  1. Nicholas Imaging says:

    Don Lemon is a publicity hog…Racism and the way blacks are perceived did NOT start when rappers started using the N word. Nor did they start when African Americans started wearing saggy pants. African Americans have ALWAYS been judged by the worst acts of other African Americans yet this fact does NOT hold true for Caucasians. Why therefore has Don Lemon NOT addressed this issue in his limited and unscientific assessment. If we were to utilize this logic then it would be correct to say that homosexuality is an abomination according to selective verses in the bible. I am sure that Don would agree that this type of reasoning is seriously flawed. There are a number of young African Americans who have neither sold or glorified drug use, use the N word as a second language and dress "appropriately" yet they have been discriminated against when it comes to employment. Should they really blame Lil wayne and Jay.Z for this? Why is it then that Caucasians get the benefit of the doubt with the likes of Charles Manson Jeffery Dahmer and the Klu-Klux Klan. You are asking the victims to adjust their deportment that would have little to No effect on a perception that was created when someone thought it would be a good idea to enslave a people since they were not considered people at all. STOP trying to get the ratings of a failing Network up by this deliberate attempt to chastise african americans to achieve this objective. Its disgusting.

  2. Ray Jackson says:

    HOLD YOUR HEAD UP.

  3. Don lemon your the man, Detroit would be like Seattle if bill and yourself took charge, if CNN ever gives you crap fox would hire you in a sec. And not just for this but for the truth you speak

  4. Michael Harris says:

    Most white, and a few black, pundits repeatedly critique African American behavior and offer behavioral solutions that have never worked. They didn't work when black men wore ties to menial and blue collar jobs in the first 70 years of the 20th century and folk generally followed the admonitions Mr. Lemon received from his parents while growing up. Behavioral solutions do not work because they do not address the structural problems endemic to this society. Mr. O'Reilly and all the right wing barkers judiciously avoid structural solutions when speaking of race (usually in a racist manner) because such solutions threaten white privilege. Structural change will create behavioral change. Our prison system has been strengthened in the past 33 years to help protect the theft of wealth by the top 5 percent. Critique the corrupt, greedy, selfish structure of a society that would privatize education and disregard public transportation so that opportunity is no longer a reality for half the society.

  5. Sandra Myers says:

    we as a people need t wake up smell the coffee bill and don are telling us what we do not want to hear but we must hear a am a 67yr old grandmother and a told my two sons that everyday now they are good fathers and I am very happy for them.

  6. Sharon Norwood says:

    Such an elitist argument he has. If only our problems could be fixed by "talking properly" and "pulling up our pants"

  7. Jp Payton says:

    I don't really have an issue with Mr. Lemon and the points he brings up. Look here folks, we have got to stop getting caught up in the imbalance of inappropriate behavior(s) and critical discussion. Guess what, we as a people have a lot of issues (some out of our own volition others not so much). But at the end of the day we are responsible for subsequent steps and then a better resolution.

    It starts with us, truthfully ask yourself "what am I doing to correct behavior" "am I mentoring/teaching/educating?" And I'm not talking about your own kids as that should be the minimal expectation (which a lot of don't do as we all know to be fact).

    Personally I feel we are doing way too much talking and not enough doing. We can do better but it starts with us and only us. Until we start respecting ourselves, our fellow brethren, cleaning our own neighborhoods, and stop accepting the crap from our own community we won't be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  8. Jeez Michael… I don't know. If the premise of your argument begins with "we tried that from 1900 – 1970 and it didn't work", then I don't know if it's worth jumping into the discussion. So I'll ignore that part for the sake of keeping the chain going, b/c conversation is good to keep us moving forward. // While I definitely don't agree with everything O'Reilly has said on this subject, I do believe that the behavioral aspects that he brings up are derived from STRUCTURAL building blocks that we (as individuals and as a larger Black community) are responsible for establishing and maintaining. I want to see more people getting fired up about creating a better standard. If all we ever hear is "the prison system is against us" and "greedy, selfish people won't let me play too" then we ignore the two things that have truly driven the progress you disregarded in the first 70 years of the 20th century – our attitude and our effort. The great majority of the people who go to prison first made a bad choice. Many people (all ethnic backgrounds) who struggle economically can trace a root cause back to misaligned educational priorities. Also, in general, you're wrong if you think that the behavioral solutions didn't work for that generation that tried who "behaviroal approach". It did work – but the impact is seen looking at their kids and their kids' kids. The example from the oldest generation fed subsequent generations with a skill set that would enable them to go fast once other things that were not in their control were finally resolved. (And that resolution was driven by other solution-minded, action-oriented people) The result is all around you – an accomplished generation of minorities and women who hold key (earned) roles in every area – business, government, science/technology/engineering, law, education, and sports. We need more people to be the example that the people in that generation were. A 50% out of wedlock rate in the Black community vs. a 72% rate today… but as Don Lemon pointed out, that's not what Lil Wayne or 106 & Park are talking about. Nope – they are pushing the EXACT OPPOSITE. It's like cultural black on black crime. C'mon man… really Michael… you have to allocate at least some of the virtriol to the right place.

  9. Jamie Bond says:

    WHEN WHITE PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THE CONDITION OF BLACK MALES–THE ONE THING THEY DO NOT TALK ABOUT IS–HOW MUCH THEY HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE CONDITION OF THE BLACK MALE IN AMERICA–THIS IS THE LEGACY OF THE SLAVERY THEY IMPOSE ON US–YOU COULD SEE HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO ELEVATE FROM IT–SIMPLY PUT–THEY LIKE IT LIKE THIS–YOU THINK THEY WILL DO ANYTHING TO HELP–NO–THAT'S BECAUSE THEY ARE JUST TO BUSY SHOVING IT IN OUR FACES WHAT HAS BECOME OF THE BLACK MALE–CRITICISM IS NOT WHAT WE NEED FROM THEM–WE NEED THEM TO CONTRIBUTE RESOURCES SO WE CAN ADDRESS THE CONDITION OF THE BLACK MALE IN THIS COUNTRY– AND IF THEY CAN'T–THEN THEY CAN GO TO HELL–BECAUSE THIS IS EXACTLY WHERE THEY ARE HEADING ANYWAY_).

  10. Turn it loose man! You should wake up! Don Lemon is trying very hard to help you and others by spelling it out. Funny, if someone tells us a lie we pretty much accept it without question, someone tells us the truth; we get mad and defensive. Take a look around! Yeah, observe just your surrounding and be honest with yourself! That, what you saw during your observation, would you give him/her a job if you were the boss and profits was your goal? Would you want that person living next to you? Would you allow that person in your home with you wife and kids? Questions can be asked all day about your surrounding and lifestyle, but only you can provide the answers! Question I ask you is what do you really want in life? Who said that you must remain in the area in which you now reside? The world is a big place and made-up of 3 quarter dark skin people, is the English universal language! Stop the blame-game and do something for you!

  11. Sade Falana says:

    I am not saying that Don Lemon's comments are false, but they are just hollow. Yes of course it is partially a behavior issue, but is that the solution? "speak correctly and pull your pants up"? It's laughable that he would even say this. I agree with Michael Harris below that there are generations who grew up being as "proper" as Don says his mother told him to be. Did this change anything? No, in fact it seems things took on different direction. I would respect what he had to say if he went a bit deeper, instead of looking for validation that some blacks do wear baggy pants and say the N-word. According to him, these types of people are incapable of being loved or obtaining financial stability, since all black folks who use the word most likely walk into their jobs yelling "NI**A what up" from the top of their lungs with sagging pants. He did what unknowledgeable people do. He ran with the obvious stereotypes and wanted a pat on his back. Unless he is out there advocating to young black men, especially in Chicago, I suggest he sticks to what does, reading from his teleprompter. Lets not forget that blacks are not the only ones who sag pants and say derogatory words, we have white cultures in the states like this as well, but there is a reason why it is publicized ten times more when blacks do it. But never mind all that. I'll just go and buy a belt and study the dictionary.

  12. To all the crybabies on here, we as a race have increasingly become our own worst enemy. Mr. Lemon made some viable comments. We first have to start respecting ourselves before we can start to gain ground. Our fore fathers and mothers suffered through too much for the ignorance that runs rapidly amongst our people.

    Times are tough for EVERYONE…but, unfortunately we spend too much time thinking about and doing the wrong things. And you want to whine about people telling you to pull your pants up, stop using the N word and attempt to act like ladies and gentlemen. It's freaking riduculous!!!!

    . Lemon, thank you for the tough love! You will find many that cry about you being unfair in your assessments; and there are those of us that will "THANK YOU" for making us strive to do better. THANK YOU!!!

  13. I totally agree 100% with Lemons comments…Black America has a serious problems. He clearly said,"It's not going to fix racism, but improvement is positive ya know".

  14. Paul Taulton says:

    Dorrian, Don was 100‰ with this! I wish he would have taken it even further. We got to raise the bar and start calling people out by Name!

  15. Tim Harris says:

    An'del: Thank you! Your rebuttal is a thing of beauty.

  16. Tim Harris says:

    An'del: Thank you! Your rebuttal is a thing of beauty.

  17. JuJuan C. Taylor says:

    I think An'del is right AND Michael is right. Perhaps we should deal with the entities of An'del's logic and carry out in the style proposed by Michael…..with a clear understanding that we (and thus they should too) KNOW the real deal. Clean up outrageous racism so we CAN in fact, be more effective with our teachings and productive proposals for young people of color (by the way, let's never forget, we do not have a monopoly on dressing or speaking as per)

  18. Gail G. Williams says:

    Has he said any thing that hasn't crossed our minds at some point or the other…I am black and proud, but we as blacks allow others to think less of us by our actions and deeds, we criticize, those who make something of themselves, and we fight our own kind to keep them down. It's time to rise above what society deems us to be, are you willing to accept the challenge?

  19. I going to get a white boyfriend like Don lol then maybe I can fit it like him lol lol not!

  20. Kamaal Sultan says:

    I don't buy for a second, that blacks changing their behavior would have ANY effect on how we are treated and/or perceived. If you need a litmus test, look no closer than Islam in America. 99.999% of Muslims have no affiliation w/ anything to do with terrorism. Yet, to turn on the news, you would assume that ALL Muslims are terrorists. Muslims art treated according to perception. No amount of denouncing terror or patriotism will change that. Yet, when a pissed off white boy shoots up a school, it's considered an isolated incident.

  21. Getr-done Parmele says:

    Then?

  22. Getr-done Parmele says:

    Then?

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