5 Big Things Don Lemon Should Think About

5 Big Things Don Lemon Should Think About



CNN let Roland go and kept this? –> see video On this whole Don Lemon thing, it is a shame to waste time on 24 hour cable’s many flim flam artists — but in this case it’s a must. You see, Don actually believes he’s right. Anyone left who is confused on the question of whether a person can be mis-educated yet have a national platform has found their answer.  With that, I want to bring something up that’s been on my mind for some time now. Which is: If journalists can’t confront complex issues in a smart way they should shut up.

Yeah, yeah, I get it: If you can get paid to run your mouth why not right? Ratings, attention, fame: Good for you Don Lemon — look at you go. Just “pull your pants up,” everyone.  I guess any flunky on TV could come up with “Don’s 5 points”, and wouldn’t you know it, one did.  Sadly, TV’s Billy O and Double Down Don have no solutions. Long after these guys are gone harder questions will remain.

The deeper questions: How did we get to the place where the N-word is used casually in music and 1 in 28 kids in the U.S. has a houseparent behind bars? How do we break the cycle? This is where TV flunkies Don and Billy O fail. We are the country that leads the world in putting humans in cages. Why is any so-called journalist acting shocked that American youth have adopted prison culture with 1.5 million kids with a parent in jail? It appears a network anchor knows nothing about the effects of the war on drugs. Scary.

It took Michelle Alexander 332 pages to detail those effects, particularly on Black communities, in The New Jim Crow. Perhaps Don and Billy should read more. Or how about a viewing of The House I Live In? It’s never surprising when a Fox anchor doesn’t care to learn these issues. But one of the only Black anchors on a major network?

So if Don wants to “really fix” problems I say we start with “fixing” Don. Here are 5 things to consider Don — I write directly to you and no one else. Because it’s time for “tough love.”

News reporting around the story of a 17-year-old who was followed and then ended up being shot to death is not the time for “lessons to Black people.” Only if you are a brainless dupe who is too stupid to see you’re a dupe could you fall for the wingnutty spin Trayvon23that switches topics from Trayvon to “black on black” crime. Don, what’s with opening your seven minute “discussion” as if it’s somehow related to the death of Trayvon Martin — then saying you know it isn’t — then launching into how correct Billy O’Reilly is then rolling a clip of him doing just that? Everyone knows the first rule in the Fox debate playbook is “change the subject.” The only reason Billy O is talking about problems in the black community is as a device to change the subject from Trayvon. Billy will only return to the subject when he needs a handy way of saying Blacks are f’d up. And what did you do: Dance like a reverse Jolson to his narrative.

The N-word and pants sagging are the end result of pathology not the start of it. No one exits the womb doing these things. Sitting in pious judgement without considering a myriad of factors is a precarious adventure. But sure, it’s great for ratings and getting booked on The View. And do I have this right: You’re a gay black male and you don’t appear to understand what it is to be judged by others who don’t know you simply because you belong to a particular group? I hope I don’t have this right.

And so you and Billy O want to talk about black males and the American criminal justice system? Well hot damn, let’s talk. The NYPD has stopped over 4 million innocent people in over 10 years and the majority of those stopped were innocent black and latino crowmales. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly apparently wants to “save” black and latino males from being subjected to 4th and 5th amendment protections even though crime is at a record low in NYC. But there are no drugs and guns in Bensonhurst or Staten Island?  Perhaps you should consider who the disproportionate target of law enforcement is in the city you live in — even when that target is innocent and there is no probable cause.  Over 473,000 innocent people were stopped last year — 55% Black.  Find an interview.

Personal behavior is very important. And that behavior is often driven by the (read: limited) choices we have in front of us. Let’s ask ourselves: Is arresting kids better than suspending them? Are we making it easier or harder for people to get a criminal record? And when they do: Do we make it easier or harder for them to re-enter society? When stats show that black males are sentenced 20% longer what effect is that likely to have? Does our society make it easy for people to attend college? Does a poor kid have the same educational opportunities as a rich one in America? When a poor kid sees few opportunities what decisions is he or she likely to make? Last I checked there were 50 million Americans — 1 in 7 — in poverty. That’s a lot of people facing the above questions.

Your “respect where you live” advice was my favorite. “I’ve lived in several predominately white neighborhoods in my life, I’ve rarely witnessed people littering,” you say. Stopping litter will save us? 

Well how about you stop littering: On the group you are in. Ask yourself: Would anyone in any other religious or ethnic group in America do what you did on live TV to the group they are a member of? Think: Would Thomas Roberts or Capehart rag on gays on the air as you did on Blacks? Would you? Would any Latino anchor take to the air and “call out” Hispanics? Would Fareed Zakaria do a screed like yours on Muslims? Would anyone of the Jewish or Catholic faith be critical of others in their group in this way? And the Catholics had a sex scandal.  Every group has their issues.  Sit back, close your eyes and ask yourself why no other group in America but African Americans do public self flogging as celebration. 

“…you know the damage one ignorant Negro can do…?”

Remember the last line from Adolph Ceasar’s character in A Soldier’s Story: “They still hate you…”  Well President Barack Obama finished high school. He got a B.A. from Columbia U. He then graduated Harvard Law School. He became the 44th President of the United States.  And people demanded to see his birth certificate. You think you can escape from blackness by winking to Bill O’Reilly who demands the President’s “hidden college records.”  You’re reminding me a bit of Sgt. Waters in A Soldier’s Story with this episode.  The line, “you know the damage one ignorant Negro can do…” has many interpretations. 

Finally you may want to take note that the same people who now suddenly want to talk out-of-wedlock babies are the same people who advocate against sex ed in schools and contraception. The same people who want to abolish the Department of Education and cut funding for public schools are the same people who request $30 million to throw more people in jail even after that policy has proven it does not work. Chicago’s mayor “finds” $300 million for a sports stadium but closes 46 schools to “save money.” Chicago’s Senator finds $170 million for a prison but no money for summer jobs? Black youth unemployment is 46%. How about 7 minutes on that?

If I’m wrong I apologize but I’m going to go ahead and bet you didn’t study sociology, criminology or psycology. I’ll bet you’ve spent an entire life in journalism — a life of watching and not doing. I can speak first hand on what a vacuous vocation that can be. It can be a brilliant profession. It can also reveal deep ignorance.


  1. Ms. Burke,
    Thank you for giving thought to a response to Don Lemon and providing some excellent suggestions. It disturbs me to see the name calling and ridiculing that has followed his broadcast. A civil discourse is welcomed.

    In all fairness, Don Lemon has done many positive stories on Black people and been very supportive our community. He has done wonderful profile stories that would never have been on CNN. He has been our champion. Demanding his head over this or revoking his Black card is extreme.

    Roland Martin was not a anchor or reporter on CNN. The two Black men are not interchangeable. CNN should have more Black anchors and commentators not swap one for the other.

    My hope is that Don Lemon will get to produce a piece on the Black community that is in depth and illuminates the many points of view and balances our history with the policies that have led to the problems. The more constructive criticism he is given, the better he will be.

    Again, thank you for elevating the conversation.

  2. Don Lemon is good journalist,who needs a platform,he is only trying to find common ground…In the aftermath of The Not Guilty Verdict concerning The Trayvon Martin Case; we all have to roll up our sleeves to participate by contributing the best way we can…At the end of the day,building a brighter future for Ourselves,Our Children and Our Grand Children…It is not the responsibility of Politicians. However,they should be held accountable to create an environment for prosperity for all citizens…We should all be convinced that the Story of The Tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s Death,is The Story of All African Americans, consequently, we must all participate in Writing it…We should work Relentlessly for The Improvement of our Own Human and Economic Development…We need to Engage on Finding Solutions to Develope Ways to have Acess to Build and Implement our Own Media Outlets, so that we can Craft a Narrative about African Americans that both Promotes a Dynamic African American Culture and Reflects the Demands and Expectations of our Citizens.

  3. Excellent points made. Don is running a game, I’m afraid. I think it’s about time to start ignoring him so as to deprive him of what he is looking for: ratings and attention. Will see him on Fox News soon. Just wanted to point out that there are a few typographical errors (one of which is in your first point. It is your not you’re). Don’t want to be a stickler but people who disagree with your points but have no legitimate response as to why will point them out just to be aasinine.

  4. I suspect that once Don Lemon made his first reference about Bill O’Reilly he was doomed. Those that despise O’Reilly give him too much credit. He speaks loudly, he’s always angry and he struggles to make even minute issues controversial. As it relates to Trayvon Martin, we fell for his warmed over, racist crap and because of the hurt many of felt about Trayvon, we reacted by becoming even more angry. This is exactly what O’Reilly wants. One of the reasons that he makes people so angry is because what he says is sometimes correct – not often – but enough to sometimes make his arguments credible. His arguments may be correct, but that does not make him “right”. He’s not “right ” because he does not care about the people or subjects that he criticizes – Blacks, Hispanics, women, gays, liberals, politicians and the President are just fodder for him to cut down. That’s his goal, and because most people are vulnerable he knows their weaknesses – people are pawns and he knows how to play us. Write or say something vicious, start a dialog or fight, go home, have a nice dinner and a drink and leave us to tear each other apart.

    Don Lemon is not the enemy because you don’t agree with his 5 suggestions. He has just as much right to voice his opinions as the next person. He does not have to pay dues to the Black community and then hope that he’s embraced and accepted. He’s a journalist – a good and fair journalist. He spoke the truth and as usual, many Blacks don’t want to hear it. Of course there are many things that need to be changed, but we’ve been talking about the same problems for way too long. I’m 62 yrs old, I’ve heard the same arguments, the same suggestions, the same solutions for at least 50 years. Some things have changed, some things are better, and there are some things that I’ve pretty much accepted, will never change. My list is not yours; nor is it Mr. Lemon’s, but my pain, my memories, and my history is just as valid as yours – possibly even more so, because I’ve lived through many of the things that you read about – I WAS THERE! I applaud Mr. Lemon for being brave enough to step into the lions den – I’m pretty sure that he knew he would be vilified and asked to turn in his “Black card”. He’s a decent man and he appears to care. As far as I’m concerned, he has nothing to apologize for and nothing else to prove.

    • IMO Mr Lemon did what he did to boost his rating; IMO, Mr Lemon came out of the closest and wrote a book to boost his rating. It is all about is career. I don’t really think he cares that much about the people he was giving advice too. You see: as Mr Lemon calls them: the N word user low pants etc group don’t look at CNN. So, who was he directing his speech too???????

  5. I’m SO disappointed in this article!

    You did not understand the point he was trying to make.

    1) He stated at the very beginning of the video and played clips of others using this “lesson to black people” tactic to run around from the issue at hand, being Trayvon. Did you even watch the first few minutes of the full video? He explicitly stated that since the Zimmerman decision had been made, it was NOW time to address the Black America issue. Your first point is invalid. Please re-watch the video.

    2) Have you walked around the hood lately? This stereotype is continuing to ruin the black man, because many STILL sag their pants and say the N-word. How is that passing judgement? They NEED to stop doing that. Also – Innocent black males in prison – c’mon now. You are ranting about a very relevant issue, but irrelevant to Don’s list. He is aware of black injustices, but his list it directed TOO black people. So again, invalid point

    3) There’s a bigger picture here. I’ve lived in the hood and the suburbs and there is a different level of care for the community in the suburbs. He has a point. We get so angry when other black people call us out on public fronts, I know, because sometimes it upsets me. But that doesn’t change the message he is sending. We are always being publicly torn down, so why not some public uplifting? We need to action items, a plan. He is using the best platform that he can to deliver the message. What? Are you afraid that other groups will use this against us? Reality check: they dont need this list because they have their own. And it won’t be as nicely worded as Don’s.

    4) What is your point here? Barack is a lovely, but special case. Again, you obviously haven’t been to the hood lately. There are plenty of drop-outs! So black people shouldn’t be in school? I don’t get why you disagree with what he said about this? He is NOT saying every black man doesn’t go to school but a LOT of them don’t. I go to a top HBCU – us women outnumber the guys about 7:3. So what’s your point?

    5) You’re right. Conservatives are very backwards in their thinking. But I must remind you again that this list directed at BLACK people. You keep straying from the subject! I was lucky to leave the destitute city I did, but all of maybe 7 girls I knew at school aren’t pregnant, and don’t already have kids.

    You need to re-watch this video and instead of worrying about how other groups are going to react to his statements, think about the validity of his points. Think about how much of an impact they could have on our community if black people actually followed this list. Because this list is to HELP black people.
    The whole idea is that Don has several SIMPLE ideas on how we can start shaping up the image of black people in America, and as a result fixing our communities. We are not honest enough with ourselves. Yes there are people who are working against the black community but WE had attriubted to some of our own problems. We have some fixing to do of ourselves – He was just giving us a start.
    I’m looking forward to a follow up article Ms. Burke, because this won’t cut it.

  6. Stop and Frisk works. As for your claims about it being racially unfair? According to the 2010 Census:

    Blacks/Latinos comprise 53% of New York City’s population, also known as a majority.

    You also imply (as most arguing your side do) that the policy of Stop and Frisk is supposed to be random, when in fact it is not random. The implementation of the program is maximized in high crime areas – which are disproportionately occupied by Black and Latino residents.

    The disproportionality you claim exposes racial profiling/violation of civil rights does nothing of the sort when you consider Stop and Frisk is a method to deter crime, which happens, again, in areas where Blacks and Latinos make up a similarly disproportionate percentage of the population.