His stance on the legitimacy of NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy, his concurrence with Bill O’Reilly on issues of Black culture, and his defense of a white reporter who mistook Samuel L. Jackson for Laurence Fishburne, have led many critics to say that he does not stand up for his own community.
In a recent interview with Jet Magazine, Lemon insists that his messages are misunderstood.
“A lot of it has been taken out of context; people hear what they want to hear. I am not criticizing the Black community. I was hired by the Tom Joyner Morning Show to do commentary that makes people think,” Lemon said. “I want my audience to feel like they are learning and not being pandered to.”
Lemon seems to be juggling a question plaguing the Black community for decades: What expectation is placed on Blacks who are given a platform by members of their community? Can they honestly voice their opinions even if they are not largely reflective of the community, or do they have an obligation to be the mouthpiece for an entire race?
Lemon, who does not shy away from disapproval, is more interested in being a diverse thinker than a representation of a diverse voice in a predominantly white field.
“I’m not afraid of criticism. I actually like it. I wish everyone could experience the level of assessment I get because it actually has made me a better person,” Lemon says. “I like to provoke the conversation and create a dialogue. That doesn’t always come from people preaching to the choir and having everyone in agreement.”