Start With the Man in the Mirror, Don Lemon

The CNN anchor's "tough talk" fails to reflect what's really going on in the black community.

Don Lemon (
Don Lemon (

Recently I heard a story that fully exemplified the mirror concept as it relates to class and race in urban communities. I was at a brunch salon hosted by my good friends Danielle and Aisha Moodie-Mills, two dynamic women who are both passionate about leaving this world better than they found it.

At the brunch, one of the attendees — a woman, like so many in the room, who is at the forefront of her career — told a story about seeing another woman in need of help. She watched from the sidewalk as a mother struggled with a diaper-less toddler clearly in need of a bathroom who was seconds away from going right there on the crowded and hot sidewalk. Instead of shaking her head in disgust or going on a Twitter rant about “these people,” she offered her aid. There was a restroom in a store not too far away, she told the struggling mom. Could she help her get there?

That’s what looking in a mirror is like. Seeing another person, who might not be perfect but who in the end is a reflection of you. What Lemon did on his show — wagging his finger at all the pants-sagging, littering, unwed high school dropouts — was a mutation of truth telling. He was nothing more than a tattletale, pointing excitedly to all the things his brothers and sisters are doing wrong in the hopes of what? A reward? A pat on the back? A seat at Bill O’Reilly’s table?

As we continue to have “real” discussions on race in America, shouldn’t we begin first by looking in the mirror?

Helena Andrews is a contributing editor at The Root and author of Bitch Is the New Black, a memoir in essays. Follow her on Twitter.