In a piece for the Huffington Post, Antwaun Sargent tackles why the CNN anchor’s statements about black men are so stinging. Sargent explains that Don Lemon’s words only perpetuate the stereotypes that white America already has about black men.
I have by Don Lemon’s estimation done all the right things. I am a 24 year old black man. I don’t sag my pants. I went to Georgetown from the Cabrini-Green Housing projects and then on to get a Masters degree, and recently just finished teaching for two years in an under resourced community in Brooklyn. I don’t litter, and I don’t have any children. But I do feel alienated by Don Lemon’s comments. I feel alienated by his comments because they translate into a form of media violence, that Black men know all too well.
Don Lemon’s comments are reminiscent of the media violence that has played out across news broadcast with reports that have called young black men crack babies, predators, dropouts, absentee fathers, and thugs. Reports that have captured the American imagination, and created moral panic. Reports that lead most of America to believe that the “scene of the crime” was not in historical processes and institutions located in American history but in black neighborhoods with black men. These reports and the media figures that delivered them have sought to construct the Black male identity for the large part of the last 40 years. It is a construction that makes black men suspicious because the media has pathologized the way we talk, act, and dress.
Read Antwaun Sargent’s entire piece at the Huffington Post.
The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.