It has taken the tragic killing of unarmed teen, Michael Brown, for CNN journalist, Don Lemon to finally understand the fears African-Americans, specifically men, walk around with everyday. Lemon, like many other journalists, has covered the chaos in Ferguson, Missouri. But he’s brought home with him a very valuable lesson: He’s Black and sadly, that means, sometimes, we’re treated unfairly.
Lemon has always been criticized by many because of his limited view of the Black experience, often speaking nonsense about the complicated sociopolitical issues affecting us. Remember that time he offered personal anecdotes to argue lifelong prejudices that he thinks could easily no longer exist if sagging men opted to wear belts or if we all took “n*gga” out of our vocabulary or if we picked up trash around our community, among many other words of unsolicited advice?
One could call Lemon culturally ignorant, at least I do. Lemon has become a safe Black token that has been given a platform to be more sensational than he is informative. It seems this very historically poignant moment that’s unfolding in Ferguson has created in Lemon a greater sense of self. He’s been man-handled by police, has had tear gas thrown at him and has seen first-hand people getting assaulted and arrested.
(Please note that the following statement comes from a place of humor, but it is saturated in truth.) Lemon has finally realized that he’s a Black man and there’s certain unnecessary, yet painful truths that we have to deal with all because of the color of our skin. *GASP* Lemon has become empathic to the Black experience and it delights me to see that he’s finally getting it. Check out a few of Lemon’s experiences that have certainly (or at least I hope) opened his eyes:
When Lemon thought he was going to be arrested for standing and reporting from the streets of Ferguson, he told the police officer, urging him to step back that he’s been “standing here all day.” The he goes on to say, “I’m not going to resist a police officer,” Lemon said and he moved backwards. “Now you see why people are so upset here, because we have been here all day,” he added. “We’re on national television. So imagine what they are doing to people when you don’t see on national television, the people who don’t have a voice like we do.”
Lemon came back from Ferguson earlier this week and hosted a town hall called, “Black and White in America,” and he shared the following: “I’m just going to be honest with you. Last night, one of my producers said that they — I won’t say if it’s a he or she, because I don’t want to give anyone away — said they came in contact with one of the members of the National Guard and that they said, ‘You want to get out of here because you’re White, because these n-words, you never know what they’re going to do.’ True story. I kid you not. 2014, a member of the National Guard. And my producer doesn’t lie. It is a true story.”
3. Understanding Both Sides Of The Racial Divide
Lemon told the Huffington Post, “The only way that we are going to bridge that divide is if we stop judging each other when we talk about it, and for people to stop saying, ‘If you speak about this issue, you are race-baiting,'” Lemon offered. “You have to call people out on certain occasions, but you also have to allow them to speak to understand where they’re coming from.”
4. Some Cops Are Bad Cops
Lemon recalled one encounter with officers he had in Ferguson and said that he went to speak with Captain Ron Johnson and was told he was “suspicious” by off-duty officers at the command center, and then Johnson instructed for Lemon and his colleagues to be let in.
“There’s a difference between someone who gets it, like Captain Johnson… [and how] local police departments operate and treat people, not only African-Americans, but most people — as if they are immediately in a position of power to do whatever they want to do with you. It’s especially different with African-Americans and especially different with men,” he added. “I can’t imagine being a person who grows up in this community and feeling like you are occupied or being intimidated by police officers.”
How’s that 5-point plan to end racism working, Don Lemon?
What do you think about Don Lemon’s experience in Ferguson, Missouri? Is he finally able to empathize with the Black community, rather than criticize it?
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