July 30, 2013
An Open Letter to Don Lemon of CNN
I share your frustrations and concerns about black-on-black crime, black unwed mothers, use of the N-word and caring about where you live, but I don’t share your desire to join with the likes of a race-baiting hustler like Bill O’Reilly to denigrate the entirety of my community based on malicious half-truths.
Don, I think you genuinely care about my community because you used to be part of it and used to know it. O’Reilly doesn’t know jack sh!t about Black America. Like an angry human volcano, he spews all the negative stereotypes and anti-black rhetoric that appeals to, incites and sparks feelings of superiority among the angry white guys Lindsey Graham anxiously says about the GOP is running out of.
Whether you know it or not Don, when you jump on O’Reilly’s racist bandwagon, you come across as a clueless sock puppet…a sell-out, who has lost touch not only with the black community, but with your own soul, as well.
When you raised those five points you broad-brushed the entirety of my community just like O’Reilly does with his “fire-ready-aim” approach to ranting about how terrible and deserving of scorn black people are.
The fact is, problems in my community run much deeper than wearing sagging pants, saying the N-word and listening to “gangsta” rap. That’s an overly simplistic way to say what they’ve said about us since we got off the first slave ships: Blacks are lazy, dumb, cowardly people proned to being natural criminals. But Don, you know better because not too long ago, you were one of us.
Educated, worldly man that you are, you’ve got to understand that there are correlations between crime, poverty, segregation and cultural genocide that have created what amounts to a permanent underclass of black Americans that O’Reilly and those of his ilk can’t and won’t understand.
This might sound like the blame game, but in reality ever since blacks were brought to America they’ve tried to make their culture ours. They took our names. They took our religion. They took our families. They took our languages. In short, they took everything from us and made us believe our culture was worthless. They made us hate ourselves, from our looks to our intellect—or supposed lack thereof. If you tell someone—even an entire people—long enough that they’re nothing, they will believe it, hate themselves and live down to low expectations.
That’s gone on for almost 400 years and it’s not going to change overnight just because you and your racist partner Bill O’Reilly say black Americans are our own worst enemies and worthy of all the disdain and fear white people choose to heap upon us. It’s like digging a bottomless pit of poverty, unbalanced educational and criminal justice systems and self-hate…throwing a whole race of people into it and then blaming them for not climbing out fast enough on their own.
But in spite of all of that, we’ve done all right. Of course, we can do better…but so can every ethnic group in our country. But we’re better than what you and O’Reilly think. We’re a resilient people, who are finding ourselves and pulling ourselves out of that pit…slowly but surely and some slower than others, but we’re getting there. But most importantly, as you and O’Reilly seem to believe, crime in America is not a “black thing,” implying that whites have a legitimate reason to profile and fear black people.
Another thing Don, crime transcends race and is typically intraracial. According to Justice Department statistics, white Americans are pretty much as likely to be killed by other whites as blacks are to be killed by other blacks and Hispanics are to be killed by other Hispanics.
Consider this from an article written by Edward Wyckoff Williams that was posted on the Grio.Com April 12, 2012 ( http://www.theroot.com/...):
In fact, all races share similar ratios. Yet there's no outrage or racialized debate about "white on white" violence. Instead, the myth and associated fear of "black on black" crime is sold as a legitimate, mainstream descriptive and becomes American status quo.As MSNBC’s Chris Hayes rightly pointed out recently (http://www.mediaite.com/...):
The truth? As the largest racial group, whites commit the majority of crimes in America. In particular, whites are responsible for the vast majority of violent crimes. With respect to aggravated assault, whites led blacks 2-1 in arrests; in forcible-rape cases, whites led all racial and ethnic groups by more than 2-1. And in larceny theft, whites led blacks, again, more than 2-1.
“There are about 200 million white people in America, making up about 63% of the population,” he said. “In 2010, 1,179 white people were killed by black people. Compare that number to the roughly 20,000 white people who died from accidental poisoning, 16,000 who died from accidental falls that year, or the 2,000 or so white people estimated who died from accidental drowning. In other words, Bill O’Reilly, you have more reason to be afraid of your own swimming pool than any young black man you see in a hoodie.”I hope you heard that, too Don.
According to a 2012 study by Scripps Howard, it also isn't true that black America is growing increasingly violent. Here’s what Radley Balko wrote in a Huffington Post article posted July 24, 2013 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...):
Again, black homicides, like all homicides, are in a steep, 20-year decline. In fact, the rates at which blacks both commit and are victims of homicide have shown sharper declines than those of whites. It's true that Chicago has had an unusually violent last few years, but this is an anomaly among big American cities. The 2012 murder rate in Washington, D.C., for example, hit a 50-year low. Violent crime in New York and Los Angeles is also falling to levels we haven't seen in decades.In addition, here’s an excerpt from an article about the huge role race plays in America’s criminal justice system by Keith Rushing posted on the Huffington Post on June 23, 2011 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...):
The Washington Post featured an essay by two experts, Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, and David Cole, a Georgetown law professor, who in "Five Myths about Americans in Prison" examined the role of race in incarceration.Likewise, Don, TV pundits like you and O’Reilly find America’s scapegoats where they look for them--typically and conveniently within the black community.
These men show that not only are people of color stopped more frequently by police, their communities, particularly with anti-drug efforts, receive far more attention from police. And black men are often charged and prosecuted differently than their White counterparts.
Mauer and Cole attempt to dispel the myth that there is a disproportionate number of black people in prison because black people commit more crimes.
They point out that although whites and African Americans use and sell drugs at about the same rates, Black men in 2003 were almost 12 times as likely to go to prison as white men. Although black people are 12 percent of the population and 14 percent of drug users, according to Mauer and Cole, they comprise 34 percent of those arrested for drug offenses and 45 percent of those incarcerated in state prisons for such offenses.
Both men attribute disparities in incarceration rates in part to the way urban black communities are policed.
"Police find drugs where they look for them," they wrote. "Inner-city, open-air drug markets are easier to bust than those that operate out of suburban basements. And numerous studies show that minorities are stopped by police more often than whites."
You and O’Reilly make it sound like the issues you rant about are peculiar to the black community—more specifically to BLACK PEOPLE. Nothing could be more off-base and soothing to people looking for reasons to justify their hatred for and vilification of blacks. The same issues that afflict poor inner city blacks tend to afflict poor communities across America be they predominantly white, Hispanic or Native American.
Your so-called "tough love" is nothing but scapegoating Don. And worse, it gives cover and solace to racists who applaud you publicly, but still call you n****r privately.
And there’s no balance in your scapegoating…just a bunch of tainted, misguided darts thrown at black folks and that’s just plain wrong Don—especially when those darts are thrown by somebody who used to be one of us and should know better.
A Black American Who Refuses To Be Labeled or Scapegoated By You, Bill O'Reilly or Anyone