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CNN Anchor's Bold Takedown of Russell Simmons on Race: ‘Attack the Problem, Not the Messenger’


"We must stop the blame for things that we can change ourselves."

Don Lemon (CNN)

CNN's Don Lemon drew the ire of many on the left when he agreed with -- and actually expanded upon -- Bill O'Reilly's take on the perpetual problems hurting the black community. Lemon advised fellow blacks to pull up their pants, stop using the N-word, finish high school and don't have children out of wedlock, among other things.

On Saturday night, Lemon hit back at his critics, including hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, who was so offended by the CNN anchor's assessment that he wrote a scathing open letter to him about race in America. Lemon's "No Talking Points" segment centered around promoting self-empowerment among blacks.

"We must stop the blame for things that we can change ourselves," Lemon said.

Lemon also discussed the importance of "personal responsibility" within the black community, using the words of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Bill Cosby and even President Barack Obama.

Don Lemon hit back at critics who took issue with his blunt words about the black community. (CNN)

"I’m glad you wrote the letter," Lemon said, addressing Simmons, who declined to appear. "Initially, though, I wasn't even going to respond to your letter, not because I think you completely missed the point, not because, like many of the other critics, I thought you were just using the occasion as a promotion for one of your businesses, your website, but I wasn’t going to address it because, quite honestly, it was hard to take you, and it, seriously after you called me derogatory names like 'slave' on Twitter."

Lemon said Simmons had been invited to make his case on CNN several times, but he declined. "That's fine," Lemon added. "But don't throw stones, and hide your hand."

Lemon slapped down Simmons's claim that "conservatives love" when blacks blame themselves for the problems that have "destroyed the black community."

"You should take that up with a conservative, or a liberal, or someone who is concerned about political affiliation in this particular situation," he replied. "It shouldn't matter if someone is black, white, brown, purple, green, Democrat or Republican. If the truth they speak is saving lives, then no matter what their intentions or background, we should listen. Attack the problem, not the messenger."

In his open letter, Simmons also argued that "young people sagging their pants today is no different than young people rockin' Afros, dashikis or platform shoes in the 60's and 70's."

Lemon educated Simmons on the roots of the Afros and dashikis, pointing out that they are symbols of African pride. On the other hand, he explained, sagging pants originated out of the Rikers Island prison in New York.

"It was originally called, 'wearing your pants Rikers style'," he added. "Are you equating dressing like a criminal to African pride? Are you saying it's OK to perpetuate the negative stereotype of young black men as convicts, criminals, prisoners? How does that enhance their lives or society as a whole?"

Before he wrapped up his takedown of Simmons, Lemon played another clip of Obama talking about the importance of personal responsibility and overcoming discrimination and/or a tough upbringing.

“Nobody cares how tough your upbringing was. Nobody cares if you suffered some discrimination. and, moreover, you have to remember that whatever you’ve gone through, it pales in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured, and they overcame them, and if they overcame them, you can overcome them, too," the president says in the clip.

"Thank you, Mr. President," Lemon concluded.

Earlier in the segment, Lemon made it clear that he is not offering a solution to racism or discrimination, but rather making suggestions that could foster self-empowerment within the black community.

(H/T: Crystal Wright)


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