Black folks should cut Don some slack; he's too flattered by the attention to be embarrassed by his own concern-trolling.
Lemon makes his first mistake in accepting Bill O'Reilly as an expert on anything, much less the state of black America. Hell, Bill'O is still amazed that we don't go all Samuel L. Jackson on the waiters when we go to restaurants.
His second mistake is in accepting O'Reilly's framing of problems in the black community as separate from society's overall challenges. The prevalence of black children born out of wedlock reflects historic difficulties with forming families (the only place you'll ever see the words "reproductive rights" and "Sally Hemings" together is in this sentence), but marriage in the nation as a whole also suffers under the yoke of over thirty years of trickle-down economics. Whether Americans marry or not has become much more a matter of class than of race or religious belief or whether there's a falafel in the bathroom.
Our doe-eyed daytime doyen's third mistake is in not emphasizing something that is almost always obscured whenever black-on-black crime or the "sorry" state of the black community is mentioned: the millions of black parents and children who pursue lives of meaning and accomplishment that have nothing to do with the unrelenting nightmare depicted in the media. Chicago is a tragedy, but it is home to over 890,000 Americans of African descent. Two-hundred Chicagoans were murdered as of the beginning of July. Even if all of the victims were black, that still represents a minuscule percentage of the city's population.
The biggest problem with what Lemon said is its setting. Lemon mentions the number of special segments, reports, and features he's done on the crisis in the black community. They were fine coming from "Don Lemon, CNN Weekend Anchor." Serving as co-signer to O'Reilly's racist takedown of black culture, the image of young black males, black parenting, and "race hustlers" diminishes Lemon, his network, and the debate on race in general. Bill O'Reilly's only concern is getting more eyeballs on his hour of dreck, not the black community. "Me-Too" is not the correct answer to a cynical, empty-headed, empty-hearted diatribe from someone who so obviously does not care about his subject.
Truth be told, tales of marauding young black men are good for politicians, cops, the media... Hey! Maybe Don Lemon could spend some time investigating the role of that thuggish image in driving gun sales nationwide. Or maybe he can start a series on parents who succeed despite the country's trying economic circumstances. Maybe CNN could report why Republican clubs and service organizations who used to identify and reward promising black kids with scholarships now advocate closing down their schools and firing their teachers. Maybe we can stop treating black kids with early potential like improbable circus freaks and start getting them the advanced placement education that is so crucial to their success and so often lacking in their schools. How's about Lemon enlisting his network in a discussion of how depiction of minority communities in American media distort their images and fuels the madness that killed Trayvon Martin?
What am I saying?! Controversy makes ratings and--let's face it--good black parents like mine were are as boring as they are numerous. There is no ratings juice in kids who've been trained to keep their hands in their pockets when they walk through stores or who make the honor role or who aren't in jail. Viewers don't tune in to see black kids who aren't running from the cops. Black families are doing the best they can whether they're homeless or in the White House, but--to hear O'Reilly, Lemon, and others--those engaged parents and their children just don't exist.
Lemon isn't upset about the ill will he's received for his remarks. Indeed, he says--quite proudly--that he's bucking for The Uncle Tom Award. It's sad that the anchor man has set his sights on such an impossibly high bar because while Clarence Thomas draws breath, Don Lemon has as much chance of winning that award as New York Jets wide receiver Riley Cooper has of finding a n****r at a Kenny Chesney concert.