Fox News can always be counted on to lie. More dangerously they can be counted on to speak some truth completely out of context to promote a destructive narrative. When one builds a story or rant off of said out of context truth, it immediately gives the bad context plausibility to the willfully ignorant.
Don Lemon committed that sin on Saturday. He used a truthful rant with an out of context narrative by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly to justifiably castigate some in the Black community. The problem is that in using Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, he provided the wrong context. He will become the poster boy for many on the Right who as opposed to looking for the causes of the problem will be punitive in asserting that these problems are self-inflicted.
Don Lemon agreed with the recent Bill O’Reilly’s Talking Points Commentary without expanding that absent the correct context, adds to the problem. O’Reilly said, “The reason there is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African American family. Raised without structure, young black men often reject the education process and gravitate towards vice. Nobody forces them to do that. It is a personal decision.”
While partially true the causes of the disintegration of the African American family is not discussed. Lemon allowed himself to fall into a Right Wing trap that this country has fallen into. It is no different than the Mitt Romney 47% comment. It is not different than telling a truth about how little taxes many pay without stating the fact that depressed wages for most and exploding wages for the top makes that the mathematical reality that has nothing to do with one’s value, worth, or productivity to society.
Absent in O’Reilly’s narrative is the complicity of the justice system in criminalizing black men which over time destroys the family. Absent in O’Reilly’s narrative is the racism in employment that makes families poor and insecure. Absent in O’Reilly’s narrative is simply what racism does to the esteem of many that manifests itself as dysfunction in all aspects of life.
Don Lemon simplistically says there are five things Black people should think about if interested in fixing the problem; (5) Pull up your pants, (4) Stop using the N word. (3) Respect where you live. (2) Finish school. (1) Stop having out of wedlock babies. Really?
Most because of prevailing culture are more comfortable with the norm of wearing pants above the waist. Most agree that the N-word should really be excised from the vocabulary because of historic hurt it inflicted on many.
Lemon’s assertion about trash is rather baffling and insulting. He sees littering as a racial problem as opposed to the socio-economic problem it is most of the times. Maybe he should visit some middle and upper class black neighborhoods in Houston and other southern cities and some lower class white neighborhoods in Appalachia.
Lemon’s assertion about finishing school is on point. But yet again he fails to take into account poverty and access to higher education. Lemon’s assertion about having out of wedlock babies is also on point. What he fails to acknowledge is that you cannot fix dysfunctions with assertions. You must find the underlying problems. Much of the out of wedlock problems for teens is caused by a lack of education, poverty, lack of options after school, and lack of options in the summers.
There is a lack of investment in people in America. Instead of shallow platitudes, had Lemon used his platform to illustrate that the “black” problem is no different than the Appalachia problem that gets less coverage, he would have done a great service to the American society. He would have used his platform as a teaching moment to enlighten Americans that these behaviors are socioeconomic and not racial. As the middle class continue its decline the same problems that afflict the black community because it is generally poorer will afflict a large percentage of the white community in the not too distant future.
Lemon has a platform where he could have used Bill O’Reilly’s rant with an intellectually honest narrative. He could have used it to define why O’Reilly’s statements were partially true and where his inferences were wrong. He could have then provided the socio-economic narrative of this cancer spreading to the entire population absent fixes to the basic American economic contract.
The video follows.
LIKE My Facebook Page – Visit My Blog: EgbertoWillies.com
Gwendoline Y. Fortune says
A friend, Charlie Lindahl, at TAMU sends your articles. I enjoy your writing, and wish you continuing success I am appalled by Don Lemons’ interpretation of the problems and solutions to black family dysfunction. I am, a career interdisciplinary social scientist and author. Don’s problem weighs heavily for me and many of my generation. I am a grandmother, who, if my 20+ year old granddaughter marries, could make me a great grandmother. My sister was a study partner with M. L. King, Jr when Spelman and Morehouse students did that together.
I raise an issue that has no chance of resolution, but here it is.
I am a progressive, beyond liberal. I’ve traveled widely and hold four academic degrees. My point is to word history and usage–linguistics. Humans create words to express thoughts and actions. Interpretations vary. WE give words power. There is no inherent power in a word. Hitler banned books. My debut novel was selected as outstanding in the 2002 Dictionary of Literary Fiction. My son selected the title to gain a publisher’s attention–in 1988. I secured a publisher in 2002, who kept the title. Despite the content of my novel–it has been ignored (Oprah, etc.) People who read it love it–except for a few who don’t get that it is an accurate depiction of a little known black story I will be happy to send you a copy gratis if you will read it, an excellent book, trashed because of one word in its title. The hip- hoppers ruined my life’s work. Send your mailing address and the book arrives post haste.
Growing Up Nigger Rich–by Gwendoline Y. Fortune.
Gwendoline Y. Fortune says
PS I neglected to say what I think Don Lemons “problem” is. To many of my generation, the educational systems have been derelict in full and accurate teaching of OUR history, all history +, to students. Black history has, generally, been ignored and/or poorly taught in all American schools. Truly, many of us who attended our OWN segregated schools and colleges learned who-what-how-why to a greater extent than most students since the 1970s. Do you not wonder that if the schools were doing a better job so many white students would be less ignorant, and gullible to the lies and propaganda spewed by the O’Reillys and echoed by the Lemons of the world–and flung into the misguided media. We have been “sone wrong”in both areas, segregation and so-called integration. The omissions remain. As a teacher it pains me to say this, but the evidence is widespread.
I wrote and taught college level courses in this area.
Matthew Balasis says
Attacking the African-American community by implying that the problems inherent in black neighborhoods are the result of bad “choices,” poor parenting, and the disintegration of the African-American family, is like attacking a sick person for being sick after you’ve deprived him of food and medicine. Our poor communities (which often happen to be predominantly Black) have been eviscerated by fiscal policy and income disparities that have swelled to grotesque proportions over the past 20 – 30 years. The housing crisis and the recent economic downturn has made a terrible situation in our poor communities even worse. Do we really believe it isn’t the lack of jobs and economic and educational opportunity exacerbated by latent classism and racism that is hurting our black communities and that the fault is rap music and sagging pants and poor role models? I can tell you for a fact I don’t know a single young black person (and I work with at-risk inner city teens) who wouldn’t pull up his pants and put on a tie if it meant a real shot at real opportunity … the problem is THERE IS NO REAL OPPORTUNITY in these communities. I can expect this sort of gibberish from Fox News, but to hear it from other sources, some of whom you’d think might know better, is quite frankly mind blowing. Things are bad all over, it should not be surprising that things have gotten even worse in our most destitute and neglected districts, many of which happen to be black. A small percentage of our population takes takes takes from their gated castles, while the vast majority of us wallow in perpetual stagnation, struggling to get by and while more and more people fall into poverty, and we blame the problems born of this poverty on rap music and clothing styles and bad language? Unbelievable.
Gwendoline Y. Fortune says
“Believe it” all. Given the fragmented, propaganda we get 14/7 as news and education, and gullibility there are no surprises. We have to seek alternative sources–perhaps, still a few teachers– to learn the hidden truths.
We can’t ignore everything he says, even though some of it is total bs – however, I do agree that Lemon completely misses the mark. He misses the opportunity to talk about 400 years of discrimination and oppression, he misses the opportunity to talk about internalized oppression, he misses the opportunity to talk about systemic obstacles to success, he misses the opportunity to talk about why so many black men are in prison, he misses the opportunity to talk about why black kids are unable to go to college… unfortunately, in America, if you have made it with very little struggle and few obstacles, you assume that is the way it is for everyone, because that is our narrative, that is our mythology. Lemon is simply reflecting our cultural beliefs, though in the end, I believe he does much more harm than even O’Reilly.