It has taken the tragic killing of unarmed teen, Michael Brown, for CNN journalist, Don Lemon to finally understand the fears African-Americans, specifically men, walk around with everyday. Lemon, like many other journalists, has covered the chaos in Ferguson, Missouri. But he’s brought home with him a very valuable lesson: He’s Black and sadly, that means, sometimes, we’re treated unfairly.
Lemon has always been criticized by many because of his limited view of the Black experience, often speaking nonsense about the complicated sociopolitical issues affecting us. Remember that time he offered personal anecdotes to argue lifelong prejudices that he thinks could easily no longer exist if sagging men opted to wear belts or if we all took “n*gga” out of our vocabulary or if we picked up trash around our community, among many other words of unsolicited advice?
One could call Lemon culturally ignorant, at least I do. Lemon has become a safe Black token that has been given a platform to be more sensational than he is informative. It seems this very historically poignant moment that’s unfolding in Ferguson has created in Lemon a greater sense of self. He’s been man-handled by police, has had tear gas thrown at him and has seen first-hand people getting assaulted and arrested.
(Please note that the following statement comes from a place of humor, but it is saturated in truth.) Lemon has finally realized that he’s a Black man and there’s certain unnecessary, yet painful truths that we have to deal with all because of the color of our skin. *GASP* Lemon has become empathic to the Black experience and it delights me to see that he’s finally getting it. Check out a few of Lemon’s experiences that have certainly (or at least I hope) opened his eyes:
When Lemon thought he was going to be arrested for standing and reporting from the streets of Ferguson, he told the police officer, urging him to step back that he’s been “standing here all day.” The he goes on to say, “I’m not going to resist a police officer,” Lemon said and he moved backwards. “Now you see why people are so upset here, because we have been here all day,” he added. “We’re on national television. So imagine what they are doing to people when you don’t see on national television, the people who don’t have a voice like we do.”
Lemon came back from Ferguson earlier this week and hosted a town hall called, “Black and White in America,” and he shared the following: “I’m just going to be honest with you. Last night, one of my producers said that they — I won’t say if it’s a he or she, because I don’t want to give anyone away — said they came in contact with one of the members of the National Guard and that they said, ‘You want to get out of here because you’re White, because these n-words, you never know what they’re going to do.’ True story. I kid you not. 2014, a member of the National Guard. And my producer doesn’t lie. It is a true story.”
3. Understanding Both Sides Of The Racial Divide
Lemon told the Huffington Post, “The only way that we are going to bridge that divide is if we stop judging each other when we talk about it, and for people to stop saying, ‘If you speak about this issue, you are race-baiting,'” Lemon offered. “You have to call people out on certain occasions, but you also have to allow them to speak to understand where they’re coming from.”
4. Some Cops Are Bad Cops
Lemon recalled one encounter with officers he had in Ferguson and said that he went to speak with Captain Ron Johnson and was told he was “suspicious” by off-duty officers at the command center, and then Johnson instructed for Lemon and his colleagues to be let in.
“There’s a difference between someone who gets it, like Captain Johnson… [and how] local police departments operate and treat people, not only African-Americans, but most people — as if they are immediately in a position of power to do whatever they want to do with you. It’s especially different with African-Americans and especially different with men,” he added. “I can’t imagine being a person who grows up in this community and feeling like you are occupied or being intimidated by police officers.”
How’s that 5-point plan to end racism working, Don Lemon?
What do you think about Don Lemon’s experience in Ferguson, Missouri? Is he finally able to empathize with the Black community, rather than criticize it?
Check Out This Gallery Of Mike Brown Supporters:
Hands Up, Don't Shoot: Ferguson Sparks Photo Movement
1. A Call To Action
The fatal shooting of yet another unarmed teen, Michael Brown has caused outrage that's gone way beyond Ferguson, Missouri where the shooting happened. Protestors from all over are gathering, raising two hands in the air--the classic gesture of surrender--and turning the passive move into defiance for the sake of protesting Brown's death. Hands Up, Don't Shoot has become the definition of Ferguson protests.
6. Young Black Men Support
Demonstrators raise their hands during a rally to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
7. No Justice, No Peace!
A demonstrator raises his hands and holds up a sign during a rally to protest the shooting death of Mike Brown.
8. Hands Up
Demonstrators raise their hands during a rally to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen by a police officer in Ferguson.
9. Don't Shoot
A demonstrator in a business suit raises his hands during a rally to protest.
10. Beyond Color
Why is the officer looking at this White woman, who is supporting Mike Brown, in this way?
11. Youth Movement
A young man raising his hands in support of Mike Brown.
12. Don't Shoot
A White woman with her hands raised in submission with the message on her palms.
13. Generational Support
An older woman raises her hands in support of Mike Brown and the Hands Up, Don't Shoot movement.
14. Activists Of Our Generation
Protest over the killing of unarmed teen, Mike Brown in Ferguson.
15. Gathering Crowds
A capacity crowd gathers at Greater St. Marks Family Church along with the family of Michael Brown and civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton to discuss the killing of brown and the civil unrest resulting from his death.
16. Mike Brown's Mother
Lesley McSpadden (L), the mother of slain teenager Michael Brown joins a capacity crowd of guests at Greater St. Marks Family Church to discuss the killing of her son and the civil unrest resulting from his death.
17. The Revolution Will Be Socially Shared
Demonstrators raise their hands and chant "hands up, don't shoot" during a protest over the killing of Michael Brown.
Demonstrators wearing Guy Fawkes masks, raise their hands during a rally on West Florissant Avenue to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen by a police officer in Ferguson.
19. T-Shirt With A Message
Demonstrators gather along West Florissant Avenue to protest the shooting death of Michael Brown.
20. RIP Mike
Demonstrators gather along West Florissant Avenue to protest Mike Brown's death.
21. Hands Up
Demonstrators gather along West Florissant Avenue to protest the shooting death of Mike Brown.
22. We Are One Race
A demonstrator holds banner during a rally to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen, Mike Brown.
23. Do I Fit The Description?
Mohamed Bangoura, 21, holds a sign after speaking about a recent incident when he was pulled aside by the Boston Police while walking home one day because he was told, "he fit the description."
24. Am I Next?
Demetrus Washington joins other demonstrators protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.
25. A Happy Protestor
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
26. We Are Praying With My Feet
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.
27. Masked Supporter
Demonstrators raise their hands during a rally on West Florissant Avenue to protest the shooting death of Mike Brown.
28. Just A Young Black Man, Walking
Mothers need to have conversations with their sons regarding their lives and how to stay safe with police.
29. Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae grabbed her Wondaland camp to offer support to Mike Brown.
30. A Stand Off
Ferguson police face protestors who refuse to give up.
31. Even Kids Are Involved
Wow, the impact this movement will have on children is incredible! They know activism at such young age!
32. The Power Of Banning Together
Demonstrators protest the shooting of Mike Brown.
33. We Want Answers
Ferguson residents challenge police with their hands up.
34. Mommy/Daughter Team
How amazing is it that mothers are teaching their kids the importance of being down for the cause.
35. Brave Supporters
Protestors rally around Mike Brown's death
36. We Need Justice
It's a beautiful thing to see our young Black men commit to change!
37. Black Teens Support
As the tear gas fills the air, Black teens stay focused on the cause.
38. Hands Up
Protestors support Mike Brown's family.
39. Don't Shoot!
One brave soul spray paints his chest with the message.
40. Passive Aggressive
Sure, the hands up move may seem passive, but this protest turns it into an aggressive response to police brutality.
41. The People Flee
People flee as police advance on protestors firing tear gas and rubber bullets to force them from the business district into nearby neighborhoods.
42. Let There Be Peace
Supporters go down to their knees with hands up for Hands Up, Don't Shoot.
43. Howard University Students
HBCU, Howard University's students ban together to offer their support.
44. Reverend Al Sharpton
Reverend Al Sharpton is often one of the first responders of racial wrongdoing. He's been very supportive of the Brown family.
45. Hell No, We Won't Go!
Residents and their supporters were protesting the shooting.
What a beautiful sight to see! People banning together to fight for our rights!
47. Assume The Position
A man is approached by the police while his hands are up.
48. A Sniper, Really?
You can see one person's hands up in reaction to the sniper.
49. Never Give Up
On the 4th day of violent protests, brave souls don't give up.
50. Is It A Race Thing?
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Mike Brown.
51. A Powerful Image
Police approach a man on his knees who's hands are up and his back is turned.