So, why the outrage at what CNN’s Don Lemon said about the Black community? In order to understand, we should look at several circumstances surrounding what was said rather than the content. I believe Don Lemon’s opinion has resonance in the Black community. But I do believe Mr. Lemon made it appear as if to be a bit flippant in regards to the Zimmerman verdict’s aftermath, if not a bit naïve. This is what I felt was wrong about the timing and venue, although the content was substantive.
- 1. Came on the heels of the George Zimmerman verdict. Though it is still my contention that where prejudice did play a role, racism should not have been so heavily relied upon in the lead up to the trial. The fact remains that this trial was racially polarizing to say the least. Pro-Trayvon Martin advocates leaned heavily on racism and the justice system’s history of reluctance to advocate on behalf of minorities. Meanwhile, pro-George Zimmerman advocates leaned on demonizing Trayvon Martin and painting him as a teenager who had it coming. In the aftermath of the verdict, advocates on both sides, in there own ways, felt vindication in the need to advocate so strongly for their side. For pro-Zimmerman’s advocates, the system worked. For those who were pro-Trayvon, the system had failed minorities, specifically Blacks; yet again. For Don Lemon to come out at that point and say, and I am paraphrasing, “Oh well that is over so now I can say what I really think about the problems that the Black community face,” would come as a bit insensitive to those who felt that they were just slapped in the face by the justice system.
- 2. The narrative it promoted because of the timing. As a caveat to the racial polarization that I mentioned in the previous paragraph, let’s speak to what became the narrative immediately following the verdict. Although as a disclaimer Don Lemon spoke of the right wing talks of black on black crime as a “deflection”, he immediately praised Bill O’Reilly for excoriating the black community for their behavior in general. His excuse? That it had nothing to do with the Zimmerman trial or verdict. Yet, Bill O’Reilly would have never talked about it, had not it been for the Zimmerman trial. Zimmerman is being painted as a man who should have killed Trayvon Martin, while Trayvon Martin has been glossed over as a menacing teen who deserved to die that night. The further narrative is that the Black community set Trayvon Martin up to be killed by the behavior they display on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter he wasn’t doing anything wrong. It doesn’t matter that he reasonably could have thought he was being stalked as it was suggested. It didn’t matter that perhaps he felt in danger and was defending himself that night. What mattered is that because the Black community behaves badly on a regular basis and he “looked like” a thug, it was reasonable for Zimmerman to take the actions he took which led to a 17 year olds death.
- 3. The venue. Last but not least, Mr. Lemon, and this actually goes out to everyone else as well, why is it that the Black community, out of all racial and ethnic groups, the only one who is consistently singled out and subjected to such constant public reproof?
You will not hear such sweeping excoriations about Latino, Asian or Jewish communities. American Muslim communities are even grudgingly spared. Oh yes, you will hear buzzwords such as, “illegal immigration” or “terrorists” all day. However, you will not get both people outside and inside those demographics to get on national television and dress down the whole group. For example, when have you heard any Latino who was of Latin or South American descent say, “Latino community, we need to be honest with ourselves and take responsibility for many of the illegal immigration problems in the United States. We need to stop harboring anyone we know to be here illegally and we need to encourage others in our community to do the same. We should be on the forefront of curbing illegal border crossings because our community is the biggest violators of it.”
Whether that is a true statement or not, you will NEVER hear that from someone considered a prominent Hispanic, from Latin or South America. If they feel that they have that problem, they know that it is up to them to handle that within their community.
People like to get caught up in calling out Black on Black crime and talk about what Blacks should do about it. They should do the same as those who experience White on White crime should do. Work to decrease crime in their respective communities. The fact of the matter is that crimes within a racial or ethnic demographic happen at a higher rate by someone within that demographic.
Mr. Lemon, I do have one parting question. You mentioned a vindication or validation that you felt when you went back to your community and heard what a woman said to her child. Did you say something to the mother or did you just pass by and thought, “I can use this on my show”? After all, you identified her as a part of the community of which you live in.