Should we blame every issue in Black America on White America or can we blame it on ourselves? CNN’s Don Lemon advocates for social responsibility, listing the Top 5 Suggestions for young Black Men to get ahead in life:
- Pull Up Your Pants
- Stop Using the N-word
- Stop Littering
- Finish School
- Not Have Children Out of Wedlock
Russell Simon’s Take
Philantropist Russell Simmons, wrote a letter to Lemon indiciating that Lemon’s critique wasn’t just on Black youth, but on the subculture that has birthed from Hip-Hop. Citing President Barack Obama and Senator John Kerry, two powerful politicians in America, who both participating in the subcultures of their time, Simmons admonishes Don Lemon for his comments.
I got a chance to see what you said over the weekend about black America. At first I thought it was Fox News, but then I remembered you’re a CNN dude. I have nothing against Fox News, as Roger Ailes is my man, but the gospel you were preaching sounded like O’Reilly and Hannity were pulling your strings. Thank goodness my political director, Michael Skolnik, was on the show to stand up for African-Americans, because conservatives love when we blame ourselves for the conditions that have destroyed the fabric of the black community. I respect your courage on many other issues, but I can’t accept that you would single out black teenagers as the cause of their own demise because they don’t speak the King’s English or wear belts around their waistbands.
Hip-hop language and clothing styles are expressions of frustration with the status quo. Young people sagging their pants today is no different than young people rockin’ afros, dashikis or platform shoes in the ’60s and ’70s. And many of those rebellious youth grew up to be quite successful… bell bottom-wearing, pot-smoking, Barry Obama became the President of these United States of America and a long-hair, anti-war activist named John Kerry became Secretary of State defending our country in more creative ways than just using violence. They were knee-deep in a rebellious culture, and did anything but integrate into a world that they saw is filled with problems that needed fixing, filled with challenges, or in their mind, with problems that they could fix. And now they are fixing them.
When this country closes 50 schools in black communities and continues to build more prisons, I know that young people see through the institutionalized bullshit that is laid out in front of them every single day of their lives. The lucky ones, like you and me, owe a real explanation of the problems in our community to the ones who are still living in struggle, not some old, conservative talking points left in the garbage from Mitt Romney’s campaign. I understand personal responsibility far too well, but you can’t ask them to pull up their pants and then stand idle as they fear getting shot in the heart by wannabe cops while walking home to watch basketball games.
If you want to tell the rest of America this weekend when you go back on CNN how we fix black America, tell them to re-start the “War on Poverty.” Tell them to end the failed “War on Drugs” that has cost this nation over one trillion dollars and unjustly incarcerated a generation of black men. Tell them to support the President’s plan for universal Pre-K, so no child enters elementary school having to play catch up with the other children who are fortunate enough to go to pre-school. Tell them make college affordable and obtainable for young students who come from low-income families. Tell them that the right to a healthy life should be universal and not just for the fortunate few. And lastly, tell them that young black men and women don’t just need “role models” or “mentors,” they need “sponsors” who are willing to offer them a job.
I want the black kids to grow up and be like you. I want them to know that their imagination is god inside of them and I want all kids, but especially black kids, to have the freedom to dream as well to create their own language. After all, without their jazz, blues, rock n’ roll and now their hip-hop, America wouldn’t even have a language of its own, much less a culture.
My Take on It
I am all for social responsibility and for people to take responsibility for their own actions in life. But these 5 points just perpetuate black stereotypes of young, Black males. These 5 suggesstion can be used for any young male of any color, not just Blacks, and the fact that Don Lemon and others BELIEVE that it’s only young Black males sagging and saying the n-word is just horrendous.
In high school and even in college, I saw more White Boys sag than Black Boys. The n-word is used by every race…even Asians say it in the bay area and no one bats an eye. I saw a lot of Black guys struggle to get ahead in school and even to get admitted in a school.
The fact that Lemon and others just used these stereotypes to describe young Black males is evidence that we don’t live in a post-racial society. Lemon automatically puts the blame on Blacks, but doesn’t even highlight the institutions in America that make is hard to get ahead as Black man.
Ya’ll, it’s HARD being a Black Man in America…it’s one of the hardest and even the most dangerous thing to be nowadays, just look at the Trayvon Martin Case.
We should really talk about the institutions–the cause–of all the issues we have in Black America instead of just looking at the aftereffects.