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View Diary: Jay Smooth Drops Knowledge on Don Lemon's Respectability Politics (67 comments)

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  •  Ok, I'll admit I'm not a fan of the diary (0+ / 0-)

    or what Jay Smooth had to say.

    As LZ has said in response to this controversy, there are two parallel tracks that we can take at the same time.  One is what we can do as a society to uplift the black community.  The second is what can be done by the black community to uplift themselves.  Lemon chose to focus on the one that is far more within the power of the black community to solve.

    Ok, so some people don't like Lemon's advice for the black community.  To paraphrase/interpret his advice he said have respect for yourself (look good and don't demean yourself by using the N word), respect your community (don't litter), better yourself (graduate from high school and strive for graduating from college) and give yourself a chance (don't have kids too early).  So for those that don't agree with Lemon's advice, let's get down to where the rubber meets the road.

    Is there better advice that you would offer to the black community?  If so, please share it.  If you want to focus solely on the disadvantages caused by the systemic racism in our society, then you are missing a large part of the picture because, like LZ said, we can have both discussions at once.  

    So Vyan, Jay Smooth and all those that attacked Lemon, what is your advice to the black community?   I'm not saying that Lemon's advice is perfect but I would sincerely be interested in hearing/developing the top 10 list of what can internally be done within the black community to get "them" where we want "them" to be.  And so it would be interesting to see how many of Lemon's ideas make the top 10 and how many should be pushed lower.

    We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

    by theotherside on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 01:51:25 PM PDT

    •  I think that young black men with droopy pants (11+ / 0-)

      is as much of a "problem" for the Black Community as Surf Hooligans in cargo pants and flip-flops are for the White Community.

      Which is to say, not a "community" problem at all.  I mean, not any more than girls with low-cut jeans and tramp stamps are a scourge and a "Problem".

      If you want to talk about the Gangs and Gang Violence, that's another story and the solutions aren't all so simple.  We're about three generations deep into the spread and rise of gangs and the underground drug economy that fuels them.  From a public policy stand point we need to drastically fix our drug laws, we need to find better diversionary options for kids who may be beginning to slide away from school and into that life that doesn't send them into the revolving door of jail-street-jail-street-jail-street-jail.

      On the personal side we may need to reach and and support families that are crumbling under the weight of their own dysfunction and desperation, not simply band-aid their issue by glueing a "father figure" into the mix who might be just as much a more difficult and dangerous influence by his presence as by his absence. Being dedicated to your family requires more than just wearing a ring or showing up for a ceremony, it takes commitment, patience, grace and dedication.  And failing that the Foster care system needs reform, the adoption system needs reform, the child protective services systems needs reform and the mental health care system needs reform.

      Now, once you've built and rebulit some of this structure into place, then you can argue to a kid on verge of self-destruction that they DO HAVE valid options, they do have valid choices to do have a potential future beyond the bleak slow self-degradation that so many fall into within the Gang culture.  Once you've done this, you can argue that their is indeed HOPE for a better tomorrow for them, even if they do have tattoos, even if they don't "talks purfuctly propper englash".  Even if they do have some limited speaking ability they still have value and worth>, even if they don't necessary look and sound like say - Don Lemon - they can create a viable life for themselves, their children and their family.

      If they can hold onto that Hope  - which some of us used to naively call the "American Dream" - and never let it go, they might have a chance.  It's not about pulling their pants up, it's about pulling their mind and spirits up, which will take a much greater personal and deliberate involvement than mere cosmetics and fashion choices.

      Until you have that,  - until you can see what's really necessary - people like Don Lemon are just talking fucking useless terrible bullshit to them, and they know it better than anyone.

      Be that as it may, a lot of these types of things are already in progress.  A lot has been done with gang intervention.  The overall violent crime rate is now at a 40 Year Low, so it's not correct to say this can't be done, or that nothing is being done.  

      The number of violent crimes in the United States dropped significantly last year, to what appeared to be the lowest rate in nearly 40 years, a development that was considered puzzling partly because it ran counter to the prevailing expectation that crime would increase during a recession.

      In all regions, the country appears to be safer. The odds of being murdered or robbed are now less than half of what they were in the early 1990s, when violent crime peaked in the United States. Small towns, especially, are seeing far fewer murders: In cities with populations under 10,000, the number plunged by more than 25 percent last year.

      In the 1990 the murder rate in Chicago was 900 per year, in the last fives years it's been half that.  In the 90's the murder rate in New York over 2,000, but has been less than 600 for the last nine years.

      It is getting better and it has been getting better, we just need to keep doing it and improving on it.

      •  Brilliant. (6+ / 0-)

        Fwiw, whole segments of whites don't speak purrfectly perfect English. Ever talk to a hardcore SoCal surfer? I grew up with lots of them and dated a few. (Many still are completely immersed in the culture, of course. It's me who moved on).

        Many can code-switch, but not all.

        But "surfer lingo" is really "cool."

        © grover

        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 04:44:18 PM PDT

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      •  By and large, I'll agree with you (0+ / 0-)

        All the issues that you raise are perfectly valid and Lemon did not address those in the 15 minutes of air time that we are talking about.  

        I particularly agree with you regarding the drugs laws and the disproportionate effect they have on minority communities, particularly AA communities.

        But I disagree entirely with your argument that what Lemon is arguing is bullshit.  Self-respect, community respect, desire to do better and delayed satisfaction are really good values every "race" in America, every class in America, and humanity in general would be wise to adopt, IMO.

        That you think that the white power structure is overwhelmingly the problem is fine and dandy.  I don't have a problem with placing the majority of the blame there.  But it's perfectly obvious that Lemon wasn't addressing all blacks and that his advice would serve many kids (of all races) well.  There are at least two discussions that need to go on, one within the white power structure (or the "white community" at large) and one within the "black community".   It's not surprising that each side wants the other side to fix itself but to deny that each side has roles and responsiblities is ignoring reality, IMO.  The attack on Lemon, largely, seems to be an attack on reality, in my view, because they dismiss his point that there are constructive steps that the "black community" should embrace.

        With that said, if the sub-set of black community that Lemon was addressing did all of what Lemon suggested, I agree that there will be limited results because societal issues still loom large.


        We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

        by theotherside on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 05:50:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There's a big difference between (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chitown Kev, LilithGardener, poco

          what you're interpreting what Don Lemon said and what he actually said.  

          But I disagree entirely with your argument that what Lemon is arguing is bullshit.  Self-respect, community respect, desire to do better and delayed satisfaction are really good values every "race" in America, every class in America, and humanity in general would be wise to adopt, IMO.
          He didn't actually say "self respect" or "community respect" or "delayed satisfaction" - those are fine sentiments, but not what he said.

          He only addressed surface-level cosmetics that give the impression and illusion of self-respect and the rest, not ACTUAL self-respect, and that's why I say - and so many have said - that what he said is bullshit, because he didn't get past the surface to anywhere near the heart of any of those three items.

          Having or not having saggy pants has no real effect on your personal self-esteem.  It really doesn't, I see extremely well-dressed kids doing that.  Saying or not saying the N-word does not change or remove the self-loathing or racial hatred that may or may not exist in ones heart.  Being married doesn't make someone a FATHER, it just means you have a ring and went through a ceremony, not that you committed to your family and raising your children to the best of your ability.  The trash thing I could take either way, but it seems isn't picking up street trash a public service job?  So what's up with the public services in Harlem?  Also, that doesn't address the larger issue of sustainability and the climate impacts of our consumption. (Out of sight is sometimes dangerously out of mind).  Staying in school is fine, however that's not always an option in the post No Child Left Behind Era which is pushing 60-70% of minority students out the door without a diploma.  Don Lemon choose to blame the kids for the schools failure to inspire and reach them, while ignoring that their are no financially incentivised to toss away the difficult cases in order to maintain higher standardized testing scores.

          IMO None of his suggestions are real substantive improvements.  None of them came anywhere near the heart of the matters, only the surface.

          But it's perfectly obvious that Lemon wasn't addressing all blacks and that his advice would serve many kids (of all races) well.  
          No, they wouldn't and that's the problem.  A change in wardrobe would not necessarily reflect a change of heart or mindset. That Don Lemon Thinks it Does is itself more problematic than the actual "issue" of kids walking around with their pants sagging.  He's confusion Fashion with Character and that's a flawed proposition from the beginning.  

          I see College Students on their way too and from USC who dress like that.

          And more importantly they should have the freedom to do so if they so choose because it is still a free country isn't it?  

          If the solution to "solving the Black problem" is primarily to De-Blackify and resultantly Urkle-fy them to the point that they have to be non-threatening, non-sexual, non-beings, then the fight against White-cultural Supremacy is all but lost. That's surrender.  You DON'T have the freedom to be the person you wish, you DON'T have the freedom to express yourself they way you'd like to, You DON'T have the option - even in your private life away from work or business - to dress as you please.

          You have to conform to the middle of the norm, or else suffer the consequences of your own failure to outwardly appear Safe and White-ish enough.

          That's why what Don Lemon is saying, is bullshit.

    •  Let me ask you this (5+ / 0-)

      Would you give that same advice to all White people who wear sagging pants, or curse, or do the things that Lemon wants Blacks to stop doing? Would you offer Whites suggestions as to how they can improve White society? Would you tell rich White college students to stop drinking, doing recreational drugs, partying, and acting like idiots?  Most of us just assume they're "sowing their wild oats" and will grow out of it. Why don't Blacks get the same leeway?

      I think what you're missing here is that Lemon is basically putting the onus on the victim. It's like saying that women who are raped should wear different clothing, or only walk around in daylight, or cover their hair because, you know, men just can't help themselves....

      Racism is a WHITE PROBLEM. It can only be fixed by those of us who are willing to look deep inside, and rid ourselves of all the racist tripe that lives buried in our minds. Because trust me, it's in there even if we don't know it.

      Even the "least racist" of us makes assumptions we shouldn't. All the years of television and radio and societal cues telling us how to behave and react have ingrained all of us with bits of behavior that are subconscious. We need to rid ourselves of those, and strip society of the entrenched and codified racism in the system.

      Hell, look at the news - if the person being talked about is White, it's left unsaid, because White is considered the "norm" or default position. A person's race is generally ONLY mentioned in news stories if they're NOT White.

      I could go on for hours, but I'll leave you with this: Think about it for a while, please - and think about what Lemon said. He didn't just make suggestions, which would have been fine... he made suggestions TO other Black people, and essentially told them that the way society treats them IS THEIR FAULT because they don't behave and dress a certain way.

      I think the only way he could have made it worse was if he'd said "Know your place".

      "We have only the moral ground we actually inhabit, not the moral ground we claim." - It Really Is That Important

      by Diogenes2008 on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 03:28:31 PM PDT

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      •  I don't know if you saw both segments (0+ / 0-)

        with Lemon.  One is where he lists his 5 points of advice for a subset of the AA community.  The second is where he talks with LZ and a latina Republican strategist (I forget her name).  

        In the first segment Lemon focused on what a subset of the black community could, in his view, do to improve their situation.  In the second segment it was discussed how there are two parallel tracks that need to be discussed.  One is what the black community can do to improve their situation and one is that society at large (ie the white power structure or whites in general) needs to make changes.  The argument was made that both issues should be addressed. I agree with this.

        And, no, racism isn't a white problem.  In the US, it is because of the definition of racism.  But there isn't a "race" on this planet that is immune from racism.  But that is a nitpick because we are dealing with racism in the US and by definition it is white problem.  Of course, bigotry is also pervasive in our country and knows no cultural bounds.

        We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

        by theotherside on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 06:08:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, let me make it real simple.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Diogenes2008, leonard145b, poco

      If you can name ONE INSTITUTION, ONE, in this country that has been dominated by Blacks, then you can  begin to see the magnitude of the problem. People who have always  been a persecuted minorities don't have the cultural capital to make the long   term changes that this society so desperately needs.
      Bottom line: Until the pale skin population comes face to face with  the racism that has been present in this country, starting with the native populations that were here before Europeans, and begins to address this issue honestly with the goal being to end racism, this problem will fester in this country, waxing and waning, but still be present.  

      What do we want? Universal health care! When do we want it? Now!

      by cagernant on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 03:28:46 PM PDT

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      •  I agree with you (0+ / 0-)

        And while it is presumptuous for me to say, I would dare say that Lemon would agree with you.  Taking the two segments in whole, the argument was presented (with help from LZ) that there is improvement to be made in the white community (society at large) and also within certain segments of the black community.  

        But the arguments presented here (over the course of the last few days) strike me as Red-state-ish.  IOW, the problem is all on the other side.  No improvement needed on our part.  That seems wrong to me.

        We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

        by theotherside on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 06:20:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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